Dear Kate undies are made from three layers of patent-pending fabric that absorbs up to three teaspoons of liquid.

Julie Sygiel developed the product during a entrepreneurship course while pursuing a degree in chemical engineering at Brown.

Though designed for ladies during that time of the month, the undergarments are also ideal for new mothers and post-menopausal women, who are said to experience light incontinence. The design of the actual undies themselves came after the fabrics were developed.

Sygiel believes there’s opportunity to use the material in other contexts as well.

A bit fuller coverage.

Co.Design

Solving A Daunting Problem: Ladies' Undies For That Time Of The Month

A chemistry student turned entrepreneur creates a replacement for the ruined undergarments that women stash in their drawers.

Benjamin Franklin once said that the only two certainties in life were death and taxes, but had he been a lady, he probably would have added menstrual periods to that list. The female fact of life is an incredibly powerful gift of fertility but, month to month, it can also be a major pain.

A few years ago, Julie Sygiel was studying chemical engineering at Brown University, but a chance course in entrepreneurship offered her the opportunity to do something completely different--create a product that offered a solution to an everyday problem. Encouraged by feedback from her gal pals, she decided to produce a pair of attractive, absorbent undies specifically designed to wear during menstruation and, from there, Dear Kate was born.

Finding a durable textile that could handle minimal overflow was essential to the concept, but as it turns out, it didn’t yet exist. “When we first set out to develop a leak-resistant fabric, all the experts told us that we had to use a plastic film laminate,” Sygiel tells Co.Design. “We requested samples with the thinnest possible film laminated to fabric--five microns--only to discover that it felt like a yellow rain slicker on your behind.”

When it came to R&D for the ideal soft, stretchy, and breathable material, Sygiel’s background proved to be a boon for the business; she performed most of the experiments herself and knew the complex technical questions to ask of the manufacturing partners. Prototypes were tested in the lab and by volunteers across the country until the multiple-patent-pending combo was established. “The inner layers are stain-releasing, wicking, and fast-drying with the use of special finishes similar to those found in sports apparel,” she explains. “The outer layer has a hydrophobic finish that acts as a barrier to leaks reaching your designer dress or white pants.” Plus, it’s all conveniently machine washable.

Sygiel and COO Sharon Ruggieri were ready to source modes of production, but found that almost all underwear sold in the United States is manufactured overseas. “It took a while to track down pattern makers and sewers experienced in undergarments,” she says. “I heard ‘That’s not possible,’ and ‘We’ve never done it that way,’ on a regular basis, given that we wanted to incorporate three layers of fabric.”

A cool million dollars in funding from a trio of investors helped launch the business about a month ago, and Sygiel says the response--from new mothers, post-menopausal women, and dames of all ages--has been truly encouraging for Dear Kates to grow further in the future. “Right now, we’re focusing on our foundation garments, but we’re learning infinite details that will be useful when we expand.”

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23 Comments

  • under-where?

    If you pick the right size, the underwear is actually really comfortable and it totally works! Obviously you don't use it on its own - you have to wear it with a pad or a tampon. It's the best backup I could've asked for

  • hotonymous

    Seems like a great idea.  Won't have to use both pads and tampons at the same time.  (for leakage) It could be great when your unsure of when your period will start too. I do wanna see a vid of this with a blue liquid or something though before I buy.

  • Alex90

    I've been using tampons for all my periods but for the first two, for which i used pads. Pads are disgusting, truly. Having dried up mentral blood grinding against your coochie all day? No thank you. And pads you would need to change quite a few times per day, which means you'd need to do that with these undies too, consuming maybe 6 pairs a day of your mentral cycle? Nice business idea, you'd sell a LOT of undies.
    But no, it's not practical, and it is disgusting.

  • Actually

    The idea behind Dear Kate for periods is that it's added back-up when your regular back-up just doesn't cut it. This means you're to use it along with a tampon/pad, not as a substitute to a tampon/pad. It's peace of mind against ruining another pair of favorite undies or jeans with stains from menstrual overflow--which 60% of women experience.  

  • A. Robins

    I think the point of the underwear is that they add protection from those nasty accidents that happen at the worst of moments. Most of women's underwear on the market consists of thinly made, unfriend to liquids fabric.These undies seek to literally add a safety net. 

  • chiming in

    Fit - definitely looks a little questionable. Solution to any potential stains - black fabric. All black. Only black. I don't have any back of the drawer underwear anymore... just a good selection of black underwear. 

  • Anataya

    Wouldn't say periods are a certainty, in fact life is most terrifying when you're not sure if you'll get it. ;)

    That said, will these still be stained while keeping the fluids from leaking through to your pants? 'Cause if they still become stained they'll still be that bad pair you shove in the back of the drawer and only take out once a month.

    Also, could this design potentially work for those with minor bladder leakage problems?

  • jonsenc

    Umm, is it just me [as a male], or does the underwear looks a size too small for the models, particularly the first picture? Looks very uncomfortable.  

  • Kelly

    For sure - I look at that and wonder if they have any "normal" underwear. That looks sooo uncomfortable. But it's a great new product idea.

  • Anonya

      No, its not just you!  I'm female and it was the first thing I noticed!  Unexpected from a female-led company.  What happened at the photoshoot?  Even if it was a male stylist/photog, I still wouldn't expect this.  Using a mannequin would have been better if it meant a better fit.  Details matter.

  • Kitten123

    TOTALLY! These do not seem to fit!  Also - for normal women, these look uncomfortable and useless.

  • Heynonnynonnynonnymus

    You are MUCH easier than I am!  I demand to see a vial of BLUE liquid poured on them.  None of your 'bluish' stuff!!