Adaptive lingerie brand Intimately recently announced raised $1 million in its November 2021 funding round. The company intends to use the funds to expand its operations, products and market reach. Steph Korey, entrepreneurand the startup investor was a key backer of the round, supporting the brand’s mission to provide lingerie for women with disabilities.
Intimately was founded in 2019 by Emma Butler with the hope of providing women with disabilities with lingerie that helps them feel beautiful and confident. Traditional bras and underwear can be difficult to put on and often don’t support diverse bodies. Intimately, on the other hand, was created to provide women with disabilities with both functional and fashionable underwear.
Prior to the creation of Intimately, this demographic of women often viewed the purchase of lingerie as dehumanizing. Previously available adaptive clothing was generally limited, offering only full coverage and drab colours. Intimately breaking down the barrier, allowing women of all backgrounds and lifestyles to embrace their beauty and support their fashion sense. Using magnets and loose handles, Intimately has revolutionized the lingerie industry, empowering over 600 million women worldwide who have a disability that affects the way they dress.
Currently, intimately offers five bras, ranging from $49.95 to $60 per unit, which includes the intimate bra (a front-opening wire-free bra); the essential Elba bra; the convertible plunge bra; the Slick Chicks velcro closure bra; and the Slick Chicks Wireless Zip Bra. The company also offers seven underwear options, ranging from $22 to $39 per unit, which include the Cheeky Tanga (side-opening underwear with velcro); the everyday bikini (side-opening underwear with magnets); the Slick Chicks hipster brief; the Slick Chicks thong brief; Slick Chicks incontinence underwear; the Slick Chicks brief; and ClipKnix Classic Clip & Hook underwear. Additionally, Intimately now offers the Slumber PJ Tank and Shorts.
Each garment is designed for ease of dressing, support and comfort.
Growth of the adaptive clothing industry
Intimately was inspired by Butler’s personal experience. When she was twelve, her mother was diagnosed with a chronic illness. She witnessed the impact of the diagnosis on her mother’s daily life.
Butler’s mother is not alone. People with disabilities are the largest minority in the world. Unfortunately, they are also the most underserved and underrepresented community. Major clothing brands design for mainstream consumers and usually leave people with disabilities out, forcing them to fend for themselves. However, this population is growing and a new industry – the adaptive clothing industry – has emerged.
“With appropriate clothing, a disabled or elderly patient may [maintain] dignityprovide some level of self-care and enjoy the added comfort of faster access to medical devices and [their physical] needs both for them and for a nurse or doctor.
According to recent research, the increase request for adapted clothing is expected to propel industry growth worldwide, a prediction backed by Steph Korey.
“Among regions, North America is expected to witness significant growth in the global adaptive clothing market during the forecast period… [due] to the high rate of people with disabilities in the region. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2018 approximately 61 million adults, or 25% or one in four, lived with a disability in the United States. Additionally, the presence of robust healthcare facilities is expected to drive the growth of the regional market in the near future. Similarly, “Europe should [see] lucrative growth of the global adaptive clothing market over the forecast period… [due] to the growing geriatric population in the region. According to Eurostat, in 2019 around 90.4 million people living in the EU-27 were aged 65 [or older].”
In 2019, the global adaptive clothing market was valued at $250.1 million. By the end of 2026, the market size is expected to reach $294.3 million, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.3% from 2021 to 2026.
The growth of the global adaptive clothing market is part of a broader personalization revolution that is impacting industries worldwide. Spurred by the growth of the Internet and related technologies, many leading companies are beginning to deploy personalization at scale. The new trend in personalization not only involves aesthetics – choosing the red SUV instead of black – but also features unique to an individual’s degree of ability. Therefore, it makes operational and financial sense for Intimately to capitalize on these changes.
The importance of inclusivity
Companies looking to target market share through personalization, however, must have inclusivity at the heart of their concerns, reveals Steph Korey, a leader in the growth of the adaptive clothing industry. Inclusiveness is a practice or mindset that deliberately tries to involve all types of people.
Inclusive fashion aims for the acceptance of all people without exception, including people with disabilities. The big challenge for the future of the industry is true inclusion. Long gone are the fashion shows and magazine editorials with tall or racialized models that were used to tick the diversity box. This is no longer enough; today’s consumers demand more. Companies need to increase their visibility and representation so that customers with disabilities feel reflected in the fashion industry and identified as part of society.
Steph Korey’s recent investment in Intimately supports her goal of shifting business platforms to support diversity and inclusion. In the past, the majority of brands that targeted the disabled demographic missed the mark due to a misunderstanding of the true experience of their target audience. Intimately, on the other hand, was built on the thoughts and suggestions of women with disabilities around the world.
Intimately targets a niche market for adaptive intimates that is practically white space. The company uses new technologies and patents to create intricate garments and mobilizes a community of women with disabilities to demand changes in the fashion industry to include shoppers with disabilities.
Waiting intimately with impatience
The recent financing of Intimately support the continued growth of the business, as it seeks to change the experience of shoppers with disabilities around the world. The hope is to expand the current range of products available, developing a solution for anyone who faces daily challenges.
Butler spoke of the recent seed tour: “Lingerie shopping is an intimate experience that defines a woman’s femininity, personal identity and confidence. Everyone, including women with disabilities, deserves an empowering shopping experience. Takes a wholesome approach intimately, bringing confidence to women with disabilities. It’s more than just a bra and sexy underwear; it is also the unique support of a community of women who understand what you are going through.
Steph Korey added, “When I first heard about Intimately and its strong mission, significant market opportunity and visionary founder, it was clear this was a company special, and I would be lucky to have the opportunity to become an investor. Butler’s passion knows no bounds, and I’m excited to see where she and her team take this great opportunity from here. More recently, Steph Korey expanded on her enthusiasm via a LinkedIn post. She shared, “Proud to be an investor in the new Intimately, led by visionary founder Emma Butler!”
Intimately seed tower, led by Venrex and the first-ever British Fashion Council investment, also included investors Michelle Kennedy, founder and CEO of Peanut; Sarah Drinkwater on behalf of Atomico; and Alexandra Fine, founder and CEO of Dame Products.
Steph Korey supports a brighter future
Every investment Korey makes provides an opportunity for a new future – a future that better supports diversity and inclusiveness and expands the current demographic of successful entrepreneurs and investors. In addition to intimately, Steph Korey invested in Veracity Selfcare, a platform that creates a personal skincare experience based on real data about a user’s hormones and biofactors through its Skin + Health test; Starday Foods, a healthy and sustainable food company; Front of the Pack, pure and simple supplements for dogs that are delivered directly to your doorstep; Lovevery, an early learning platform that offers a state-based information system for parents and products for children; Parade, an underwear company that creates designer and eco-friendly fabric underwear; Calibrate, a digital metabolic health company changing the way the world treats weight; Modern Fertility, a women’s health company that tries to fill the fertility information gap by allowing women to test key fertility hormones at home; and Great Jones, a modern kitchen company that equips, encourages and inspires people to cook more frequently.
As the company name suggests, Intimately strives to create a more personalized relationship with all lingerie buyers, regardless of ability. Having raised $1 million in its funding round, thanks to the backing of early-stage investors like Steph Korey, the company is poised for great success in the months and years to come and will serve example to other adaptive clothing companies around the world. .
About Steph Korey
Steph Korey is a well-established entrepreneur and a seed investor who focuses on businesses and brands that support underrepresented communities. She is the founder of a $1.4 billion company that has been named “World’s Most Innovative Company” by Fast Company twice since its inception. She previously served as Supply Chain Manager at Warby Parker, where she built and led a team responsible for the development, manufacturing and fulfillment of physical products.
Korey holds a BA in International Relations from Brown University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. She was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for retail and e-commerce and recognized as EY Entrepreneur of the Year. Korey was also honored as one of Goldman Sachs 100 Builders and Innovators in 2018 and 2019.
This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or management of EconoTimes