Sustainability efforts touch almost all aspects of our lives, from periods products, to food packaging, to our wardrobes, but the small matter of our daily under garments has been largely overlooked leaving many of us wondering what are we supposed to do with these small inconveniences when we’re ready to part ways with them. They are products that obviously can’t be sold, donated or rented. So Rose Colcord created Cou Cou in order to redefine our daily undies for a new generation of women by tackling the environmental impact of our most disposed-of garment. Cou Cous are created to be compostable and are made with 100 percent GOTS certified organic cotton and French lace. The wearer can simply remove the trims and pop them in the compost. FashionUnited spoke to Colcord to understand more.
Can you outline your path into eco-friendly intimates and founding Cou Cou?
Cou Cou started when I noticed this dichotomy between lingerie and daily fast-fashion underwear that seemed to reinforce the notion that for women comfort and beauty are mutually exclusive. I wanted to bridge that gap and prove to women that with the first choice they make each day, they can feel empowered, comfortable and beautiful by choosing their favorites everyday. Beyond this, despite Gen-Z caring so deeply about environmental sustainability, the impact of our intimates are so often overlooked. Only 95 percent of underwear are sustainably sourced, they have the shortest life cycle of any garment and are most likely the only thing you don’t want to be reselling on depop. Therefore, it was clear to me that compostable underwear that took responsibility for the whole life cycle was necessary for Cou Cou.
What are the challenges in creating compostable underwear?
The main issue we faced with making 100 percent organic cotton underwear was the issue of having no elastane in the material itself. Because people generally want no VPL, and the comfort of such an intimate garment depends so heavily on the fit, it took over a year to develop the product because not only did we want it to be compostable but also beautiful. Most underwear fits quite simply due to its elastane content, which allows it to stretch so much and hug the body. But obviously with our sustainability initiative there’s no way I wanted to use any elastane in the body of the material. So the biggest challenge was definitely in perfecting the fit and making sustainable not “look” sustainable.
Any plans to expand beyond intimate briefs?
We’ll be primarily focusing on underwear, but we really see our product as elevated, intimate essentials, which I want to expand to be anything that comprises that first layer. So although undies will be Cou Cou’s focus, I also see us expanding into more camis, vests and crop tops.
Do you think consumers will go that extra step of removing the trim and composting the item?
The Cou Cou girl is a conscious consumer, so I have no doubt that in caring deeply about reducing their environmental impact, she’d put in that little bit of extra time to remove the trims before setting her Cou Cou’s on the next stage of their life cycle.
Are compostable trims and details planned for future product development?
Yes. We have the goal to be carbon neutral by 2025 so a priority for us coming up will be in reducing the impact in every way we can.
Is Cou Cou packaging and dying also compostable?
Yes, all packaging is recyclable and compostable.
Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry