If you’ve ever limped home after an intense spin class, with your undercarriage aching and determined to find a less-crippling way to stay in shape, Pixi has a solution that might just keep you coming back for more punishment.
The Boston-area startup thinks it’s found a way to address the most familiar complaints of women cyclists and fitness fanatics: pelvic chafing, irritation, bruising and, as Pixi delicately puts it, “genital numbness”.
Pixi’s solution? Its high-tech Go Anywhere bike pants with a removable inner pad, called the TushCush, that’s engineered to protect the female anatomy.
And the best part: Pixi’s pants are nothing like those droopy purpose-built bike pants that look and feel like you’re wearing a loaded diaper. After your ride or workout, simply detach the patent-pending TushCush pad, and you’re left with a pair of sleek performance pants suitable for a yoga class, gym warmdown or a brisk jog home.
Pixi is the brainchild of Emily Welsch, a management consultant with a background in polymer science and design, who quit her job last year to bring the brand to life. After 10 months of testing prototypes and consulting cyclists, instructors and commuter bikers, Pixi launched its debut line on Wednesday with a Kickstarter pre-order campaign.
The brand’s first offerings — full- or ¾-length Go Anywhere pants plus the machine-washable TushCush inserts — are slated for an August delivery. Subsequent pieces will include capri and short styles.
Welsch says she learned the hard way about the torments of cycling for women riders — as a member of Boston University’s road cycling team while studying chemistry in grad school.
“During that time, I experienced several major barriers that were preventing women from becoming involved in the sport of cycling, and I wanted to change that,” she said. “Just about everyone has experienced some level of discomfort while riding a bike, but the padded diaper-like cycling short options are so unflattering that many women opt for yoga pants with no protection at all.”
The engineering behind the TushCush insert, she says, was inspired by the construction of women’s bras and “how they contour and support a women’s form.” The flexible pad is held in place with subtle fasteners in the waistband and moves with the body, even when you pop up from your bike saddle into a standing position.
Pixi’s versatile pants are made from a breathable, moisture-wicking fabric that makes them suitable for high-energy workouts or leisurely lounging. The silky Italian fabric is opaque, so there’s no reason to fear a ‘Lulu moment’ (you know what that means). And, with nighttime runners and cyclists in mind, they include reflective elements as well as a front pocket for keys and other essentials.
Pixi has some serious design and business credentials, with staff members who have worked for Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs (among others) and two advisors who previously worked for Lululemon and Reebok. It also has more than 35 brand ambassadors who beta-test its products and provide feedback.
But this ambitious startup has bigger goals than just becoming the next shiny bauble in the fashion universe. It wants to get more women onto bikes.
“We aim to create beautifully designed and functional performance apparel that easily transitions from the bike, to run, to yoga, and to everything else,” Welsch said. “Beyond selling versatile apparel, Pixi has a steadfast commitment to getting more women on bikes while promoting confidence and health.”
The company’s Kickstarter campaign runs until April 26 and offers discounts on pre-orders and multi-packs of its TushCush inserts. Once the campaign ends, the line will be available on the company website and at bike shops and cycling studios.
And there’s good news also for male cyclists, who know the familiar and unflattering waddle that goes along with conventional padded bike shorts. Welsch told Lingerie Talk that Pixi will expand the product line to men eventually, with a different ‘ManTush’ insert that addresses the sensitivities of the male anatomy.