When Southern Highlands swimsuit designer Rel Vild’s two daughters started school, she was so disappointed with the lack of suitable underwear that she designed and made her own.
With feedback from other mothers spurring her on, Rel has now launched her brand of girls underwear called sHEROes.
Working from the iAccelerate business incubator at the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus, she has started an affiliate program that allows school parents and carers groups and uniform shops to sell her range and raise funds for their schools.
“When my daughters started school I looked for school colour, full coverage undies that would preserve their modesty while wearing a school dress,” Ms Vild said.
“I wanted them to be empowered, not restricted but I couldn’t find anything suitable. So I decided to make our own. Having a 20-year career designing swimwear has led me to here – launching a range of super hero coverage, girl-power pants, or contemporary scungies, that enable girls to be free of limitations, more confident, and more physically active.”
Ms Vild said girls were twice as likely as boys to be inactive and experience more barriers than young men, and this needed to change.
“Girls don’t want to be judged or ridiculed. While I can’t change society or its pressures, I can offer girls some assistance in gaining confidence in their abilities and in the fight against poor body image,” she said.
“We need to encourage our daughters to gain the benefits of a regular exercise habit, to address the stress and self-esteem issues so many teenage girls are facing. They will reap the benefits not only physically and mentally, but also academically.”
Ms Vild said sHEROes briefs were a unique design, providing full coverage, super hero-sized briefs that stay in place when girls are cartwheeling or sitting on the floor cross legged.
“When girls dress for school, what they are wearing should be no barrier to being physically active during any opportunity that arises during the day. sHEROes provide more coverage than a swimsuit and are carefully engineered to stay in place even when you cartwheel,” she said.
She has plans to develop a wireless comfy sports bra and also a version of a period pant for high school girls, as well as younger girls who are increasingly commencing puberty in primary school.
The focus will be on comfort and fit, and continuity between primary, tween and teen to help girls feel mentally and physically secure as their bodies develop.