Thigh Society is on a mission to normalize chafing. Founder and CEO, Marnie Consky, identifies as the “Chief Anti-Chafing Champion” at the company – and also a reluctant entrepreneur.
Consky launched Thigh Society as a self-funded endeavor in July 2009. “I was going for a walk on a hot summer day and all of a sudden my thighs were rubbing together under my skirt. I had forgotten about this ongoing problem because here in Toronto our winters are long and brutal and there’s no spring. You don’t get the chance to wear dresses until the summer hits. My solution at the time was a ratty old pair of bike shorts,” says Consky.
She finished the day with one thought: “there has to be a better way.”
That summer she went on a mission to find a long leg boxer brief for women. “I did not at that time want to start a business in underwear. I was just looking for a solution to my problem,” she said. After pounding the pavement she came up empty-handed.
So, she decided to create the solution herself. She quit her job and started having conversation with friends of varying shapes and sizes, asking them if they’d ever had chafing. “About 75% of them did,” said Consky. “Chafing had nothing to do with their size. This is something I’d always intuitively known.”
“Chafe has everything to do with skin sensitivity, moisture and friction – not weight or size,” says Consky. “I knew this wasn’t a plus-size issue.”
“There were women who were a size two and reported lifelong chafe and women who were a size 20 and had never had that experience. There was a lot of shame when women would admit to having thigh chafing,” says Consky. “I really resented that shame. So what if you get chafing? What’s the big deal? Why were women so embarrassed about this?”
She set out to develop a solution and a brand that stood for inclusivity and destigmatizing chafing. She undertook an early form of crowdsourcing, going to Live Journal communities such as “Fatshionista” and asking questions. Prototyping came next.
She wanted to create a “forgettable garment.” That meant focusing on fit and making an undergarment that wasn’t shapewear. “I was very deliberate,” says Consky. “I want this brand to signal that your natural shape, curves and the way your body wants to be in this world is totally fine and perfect. I had a lot of resentment toward shapewear companies marketing to women’s insecurities. I approached this garment the way one would a boxer brief, a garment that just provides more coverage.”
They manufactured in Canada for the first ten years of operation, using a cut-and-sew based bamboo cotton stretch garment. Four years in Consky became aware of new technology that used circular knitting to create seamless garments with unique yarn recipes – the same technology used to make bandeau tops or seamless leggings.
Each of the machines has a unique cylinder that determines the size it can produce. When it came to extending their size run earlier on, Consky says that the cost of the machines – upward of $100,000 each – became a challenge. “We didn’t have the capital to extend sizing and buy that machinery for our factory.” She continues, “And we decided not to cheat. A lot of brands do. They’ll have three cylinders producing seven size ranges. I’ve always found that’s never a good fit, and our customers agree.” Consky says, “The last thing we wanted to do was evoke anything about body image or sacrifice anything around fit because we were cutting corners on the manufacturing side.”
They took manufacuturing overseas and now offer a size range from extra-small to 6X. Consky says, “Our secret sauce is that we use the right machinery for the right sizes so that women always feel super comfortable and hugged.”
Beyond that, Thigh Society says it’s looking to help women love their thighs at any size.