Since launching in 2013, the Toronto-based underwear brand Knix has been working to dismantle taboos around the female body, said its founder Joanna Griffiths. The brand has tackled many. This September, it authored a children’s book about menstruation, and in 2019 it hosted a 12-episode podcast about fertility issues. In 2021, its campaign about the postpartum stage became a Rizzoli coffee table book dubbed “Life After Birth: Portraits of Love and the Beauty of Parenthood.” The latest topic it is addressing is one Griffiths believes has not been broken: perimenopause.
To tackle the issue, Knix launched a new campaign titled “The Invisible Period” on November 7. In tandem, it’s also launching a new product, Zones+ Ultra Leakproof underwear. It’s most absorbent underwear ever, said Griffiths, adding that it was third-party tested against products by 22 competitors. Perimenopause can bring on heavier periods. But the product is tangential to the educational elements of the campaign, Griffiths said.
“We’ve had to speak openly, proudly and compassionately about these different conversations to make our customers know that we’re a brand that understands them … and understands their bodies and their needs,” Griffiths said. This ladders up to the brand’s overall mission, which is to “to enable people to be unapologetically free.” Elaborating on that, Griffiths said Knix’s products are all “rooted in [making the wearer] feel comfortable and free to express who they are … every day of the month, in every activity — but also free from judgment, from shame.”
“The Invisible Period” campaign is also launching with a video centered on how little attention is paid to perimenopause and the fact that 90% of women feel unprepared for this stage of life. The campaign video will run in a paid and organic capacity across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and TikTok. Knix will also have a cut-down version of the video that will be used for streaming advertising later in the month.
Knix declined to comment on the investment in the campaign and its current revenue. In September 2022, 80% of the brand was acquired by Essity for $320 million, and Griffiths owns the remaining 20%. At the time of the deal, the brand was valued at $400 million.
In addition to launching the video, Knix tapped a panel of experts to co-create content for the product’s promotion, which will live primarily on Knix’s blog, The Lift, and on Instagram. They include the Ob-Gyn known as Dr. Ali on Instagram, psychiatrist Dr. Judith Joseph, PT and women’s health expert Amanda Thebe, and relationship expert and sexologist Dr. Jess O’Reilly.
“Perimenopause refers to the lead-up to menopause, and it’s a natural stage of life. When people say they’re ‘going through menopause,’ they’re generally referring to perimenopause,” said Dr. O’Reilly. “Symptoms might include irregular periods, hot flashes, changes in weight, difficulty sleeping, mood shifts, bladder issues or vaginal dryness. … Some people don’t notice any symptoms aside from menstrual changes or stoppage.” She added that perimenopause often begins in one’s early 40s, but for some people, it can begin in their 30s.
Finally, the brand is also launching a quiz on its website allowing women to identify the symptoms they’re experiencing to be led to educational resources based on their responses.
It’s a timely subject as millennials who’ve grown up with brands catering to their every need are entering perimenopause. In 2020, Glamour called menopause “the last great taboo in women’s health” and noted that “the oldest millennials, at 39, are now entering the perimenopausal period.” Glamour also noted that “every woman (and some trans men) will go through menopause — that’s an estimated 1.3 million women in the U.S. alone who enter menopause every year.”
Already, a spate of beauty brands has launched to cater to the needs of perimenopausal and menopausal women. Brands like Womaness and Naomi Watt’s Stripes have been designed to cater to this demographic.
Griffiths hopes to see the same headway when it comes to breaking the taboo around perimenopause she has seen over the last decade when it comes to talking about periods. She pointed to societal shifts and big moments like NPR naming 2015 the “Year of the Period” and changes to rules about attire for tennis players.
She’s experienced the shift herself, too, she said. “In March, I had the opportunity to go to a dinner with Justin Trudeau and Joe Biden here in Ottawa. When I met Justin Trudeau, we talked about periods, period equity and the important work that [Knix] is doing. When I started Knix, did I think I would be meeting world leaders at a party and talking about menstruation? Absolutely not, especially a man.”