KENT Makes the Cleanest, Greenest Underwear You'll Ever Find
All-natural and plastic-free, it can go in the compost when you're done with it.
Stacy Anderson was having trouble finding a great pair of underwear. Her criteria were not unrealistic. She wanted them to be cute, to fit well, and to be made with all-natural materials—but that's where she ran into difficulties.
"I was shocked to find that 99.9% of underwear contain synthetics," Anderson tells Treehugger. "Synthetics, which essentially are plastics, inhibit our body’s natural ability to breathe, expel toxins, and regulate our pH levels. When I dug further, I discovered that wearing synthetic underwear is tied to bacterial and yeast infections." Then there's the added issue of microplastics shedding in the wash.
She had no choice but to create the underwear she wanted to wear. That is how KENT was born, a Los Angeles-based company that now produces cute, comfortable, all-natural underwear using 100% organic pima cotton.
Pima cotton stands out for its superior quality. Grown in Peru, it comprises only 2% of the world's cotton, and organic pima is even rarer (less than 1%). Pima has extra-long fibers that are twice as long as regular cotton, earning it a reputation as the "cashmere of cotton."
Anderson was so dead-set against synthetics that she even found a plant-based source for elastic waistbands, made from a blend of cotton and plant materials. "It's fully biodegradable and compostable, and so will return to nature as a resource, rather than emit toxins in landfill like polyester alternatives," she explains.
Compostability is a focal point in KENT's marketing. "Plant Your Pants" has become a rallying cry for its customers, with the company offering guidance on how to cut up old clean underwear into strips and add it to a backyard compost, where it will break down within three to six months. Anderson explains that LA Compost conducted a test that saw a full breakdown in 90 days, but home composts tend to have more variability.
KENT encourages customers to refresh their underwear drawers on an annual basis—or at least revisit each piece to determine if it's still good to wear. Anderson cites an interview that KENT had with Dr. Tara Shirazian, a gynecologist from New York City, who recommended replacing underwear every one to two years because it gets so much use. "Studies have shown that micro-organisms remain on our underwear even after a wash, and over time can build up and contribute to infection and irritation," advised Shirazian. Rips, holes, tears, fraying, open ridges or edges, and general discomfort are all signs that replacement is in order.
All too often underwear is an afterthought, something we purchase with less care than shirts or pants; and yet, it deserves more consideration because of its proximity to the most sensitive part of our bodies and the frequency with which it's worn.
Anderson hopes that everyone will start paying more attention. "When I dug further and discovered that wearing synthetic underwear is tied to bacterial and yeast infections, I wanted everyone to know... It felt like knowledge that we should all be armed with," she says. "As someone who previously suffered from regular infections and sensitivity, the switch to 100% cotton is something I can feel good about for my body, and also for our planet."
KENT sells three styles of underwear—bikini, high waist, and thong—in various neutral colors. You can buy them as single pieces or in mixed packs. The underwear, including the elastic waistbands, are made in California. They come in plant-based, acid-free, compostable packaging printed with soy-based inks and tag-less labels.