adidas unveils its latest product innovation designed to keep more menstruators in sport: the new TechFit Period Proof tights, featuring an absorbent layer to help protect against leaks when worn with a tampon or pad. In addition, with teachers and athletes alike calling for more information on the topic of menstruation, adidas has collaborated with Dr. Georgie Bruinvels and Orreco to create free resources and lesson plans for schools around the world.
The launch is part of adidas’ roadmap of innovations coming out this year to better service all women in sport under the long-term Watch Us Move campaign; a commitment to revolutionising its product offering and services to better support the needs of its diverse female community. The first step in this was understanding what physical, emotional and societal barriers exist to sports participation.
adidas found that teenage girls are dropping out of sport at an alarming rate, with one of the key reasons being fear of period leakage. Using these insights, the brand set out to create a product that helps athletes stay in sport throughout their cycle by giving them an added layer of protection. After over two years of development and rigorous testing carried out at each stage of the journey, key details of the tights are as follows:
- TECHFIT PERIOD PROOF TIGHTS: Using new adidas Flow Shield technology, the tights have a set of absorbent layers and a membrane that help protect against leaks, giving athletes added confidence whilst training through their period. A wicking layer, absorbing layer and leak proof layer work together to provide protection, whilst a bonding frame holds each layer together and keeps the tights in place
Speaking about the collection, Kim Buerger, Senior Product Manager – Women’s Apparel at adidas, said: “We knew it had to be comfortable and breathable, but most importantly, it had to serve its purpose of helping to protect against leakage.
The biggest challenge we faced in bringing the TechFit Period Proof Tights to market was the testing. It was incredibly rigorous and went through several rounds, because we had to be sure our product could deliver. Our ambition with this product is to keep more people in sport by giving them the confidence to train on their period. We’re so proud of what we were able to achieve, and look forward to introducing more product innovation in this space.”
The 1 in 4 dropout rate not only emphasised the need for performance wear that better serves the needs of those who menstruate, but also highlighted a lack of education and understanding about periods amongst teens and adults alike. Analysing data from over 14,000 athletes found that even those at the top of their field didn’t learn about – or talk about – periods in sport at school or with their coaches. In the UK, 82.3% of participants indicated that they had never received any education about their menstrual cycle in the context of sport or exercise, and of those who have a coach, 81.5% have never spoken to their coach about their cycle. In the US, 65.3% have not received education on the topic, and 75.8% have not discussed the menstrual cycle with their coach.
To break this taboo and normalise period conversation, adidas has partnered with leading sports research scientist, Dr. Georgie Bruinvels, and PE teachers who are on the front line, to craft educational materials and practical lesson plans. Our aim is for these to be used in schools around the world, helping teachers, parents and teens better understand how to navigate their cycle. Taking an open-source approach, adidas will continue to collaborate with teachers to gather feedback and understand how the materials can be evolved and adapted to help create real change.
Dr. Georgie Bruinvels, Director, Sports Science and Female Athlete Lead at Orreco, added: “It is great to see that the landscape for girls and women in sport is progressing, however it is evident that despite this, the menstrual cycle is still an area that is of embarrassment, and as a result is typically neglected and ignored. Given the impact that the menstrual cycle can have on participation and overall quality of life, this must change. Education is the ultimate starting point whereby those who menstruate can be empowered by an increased understanding of an essential physiological process. Education will enable progressive discussion, helping to break down barriers associated with physical activity and the menstrual cycle.
We know, more than ever, the importance of exercise for both mental and physical well-being, and I am excited to see the positive impact this campaign will have.”
To sustain the dialogue and put the topic of menstruation on the global sporting stage, adidas will be passing the mic to its network of athletes to share their own experiences of training and competing on their periods, including Team GB athlete and Olympic medallist, Jazmin Sawyers, and WNBA player, Layshia Clarendon, who is currently the Minnesota Lynx guard.
The TechFit Period Proof collection is adidas’ first step in creating performance wear that supports those who menstruate.
Check out adidas’ Stay in Play Period Lesson Plan…