Auckland - New Zealand technology firm Confitex has developed an absorbent and leakproof knitted fabric which can be used in the manufacture of incontinence underwear, negating the need for a plastic layer.
The eco-friendly, absorbent knit is offers consumers a discreet, effective and sustainable alternative to single-use pads and liners.
The new textile is said to be unique in that it's fully waterproof without the use of a layer of PU plastic. It was invented by Confitex founder Frantisek Riha-Scott, a designer with a passion for endurance ski racing.
"I originally wanted to create high-performance absorbent sports underwear so athletes didn't need to stop for bathroom breaks during long races," he says. "But I quickly realised that reusable leakproof underwear had a much wider application – it would also be life-changing for the one in three women and one in five men who live with light-to-medium urinary incontinence."
Riha-Scott's research demonstrated that the layer of polyurethane (PU) plastic usually used in waterproof fabrics isn't fit for purpose – not only because it takes centuries to break down in landfill, but because it can't be stitched, heat-sealed, moulded or tumble-dried and it is not breathable when worn.
Drawing on his textile design training and extensive research into microscopic textile technology, Riha-Scott created and patented the world's first and only fully waterproof fabric that doesn't rely on a layer of PU plastic for its efficacy, and used it in a range of absorbent underwear for men and women.
He launched the Confitex label at New Zealand Fashion Week – tackling the taboos around bladder leakage head-on and making international headlines as the world's first fashionable range of washable incontinence underwear.
In June 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic carved up the world, Confitex launched its second-generation range of trunks under the Confitex for Men label, as well as a new Just'nCase range of absorbent period-proof and pee-proof underwear for women and reusable nursing pads for breastfeeding mothers.
Confitex's textile also performs effectively when used in period underwear – providing a more eco-friendly alternative to single-use pads, tampons and other brands of period pants, which almost invariably contain a layer of PU plastic.
And because Confitex products don't contain that PU plastic layer, they can safely be tumble dried without warping, scrunching or losing their leakproof performance.
Confitex's products have been independently tested by International standards laboratory UL, verifying that the textile created by Riha-Scott is at the forefront of high-performance absorbent textile technology.
"We know that our textile technology is superior because our underwear and nursing pads have been independently tested against other leading washable brands, and have come out on top for absorbency per square inch with the least bulk," says Riha-Scott. "That sounds like a technicality, but it makes a huge difference to the comfort and confidence people experience when they use our products."