Confitex on the runway at NZ Fashion Week.
Saturday, 5 December 2015
Fashion and incontinence becomes talk of the town
The silent epidemic of incontinence became one of the most talked about topics at New Zealand Fashion Week this year, thanks to fashion designer Frantisek Riha-Scott and business partner Mark Davey, who is also Chair of Rotary Club of Downtown Auckland’s Community Committee.
Their product is Confitex, an innovative and stylish range of underwear for men and women with incontinence. A fine example of Kiwi ingenuity, the Confitex range marries high-tech sports fabric with fashion and is sleekly styled, absorbent, waterproof, pad-free and eco-friendly.
Almost one million women and men in New Zealand experience incontinence or occasional bladder leakage. In Australia the figure is around 4.5m and in the USA 115m.
Mark Davey says New Zealand Fashion Week was an important step forward for an essential conversation. “It was a world first to have lingerie designed for incontinence on the runway at a fashion show,” he says. “When we first researched incontinence products, we were shocked to see what people had to wear - they were big and bulky, and look like adult nappies - it’s no wonder people’s self-esteem is low.”
While developing Confitex, Mark and Frantisek met Dr Lynsey Hayward, an Auckland Urogynaecology Specialist and Vice-President of the International Urogynaecology Association. “It’s very common for women to be so embarrassed they don’t tell their family or partners. Sometimes they won’t even leave the house, play with their children, or even laugh,” she says.
Following New Zealand Fashion Week, Dr Hayward was delighted to accept from the Rotary Club of Downtown Auckland a Confitex donation of 120 pairs of underwear to help women who can’t afford incontinence pads that can cost over $2,000 a year. “Some women with this condition will lie on a bed of newspaper because they can’t buy pads anymore,” she says.
The range is being marketed across Australasia by Pharmaco Ltd, a specialist New Zealand owned healthcare sales and marketing company.
Pharmaco Chief Executive Officer Chandra Selvadurai says Confitex is a fantastic example of Kiwi innovation that’s set to disrupt its category by improving people’s lives through innovation and design. “Up until now incontinence products have been functional, uncomfortable and ugly, and do nothing to boost confidence,” he says. “As a Kiwi company, we are delighted to be working with another to grow its business in New Zealand and Australia.”