Urbanist Chamois Panties were launched via a Kickstarter campaign back in 2013, with the first shipments arriving mid-summer 2014.
The brainchild of Christiana Guzman the goal was simple: to offer comfortable cycling underwear for women with an in-built chamois.
Speaking to us around the time of the launch, Guzman who studied Product Design at Arizona State Unversity told us: “The idea behind the Chamois Panties is creating the ability to ride in comfort, without having to sacrifice your own personal style." The idea earned 250 per cent of the Kickstarter target set – it was clear that the market was there.
The chamois panties meant women could commute without discomfort in their normal clothes – be that riding to the gym or to work – forgoing the need to switch between padded lycra cycling shorts and casual clothing throughout the day.
Describing the design process, Guzman told us: “The idea for the chamois panties came about while I was on a ladies’ social ride. We had just finished and, in our discomfort, were joking about how we wished we could wear our padded cycling shorts under our jean shorts. Then we really thought about it and started wondering why a product like that didn’t exist.
“After further investigation, I found that there were indeed a few products on the market with a similar function. None of the available options incorporated a good chamois and there weren’t any feminine designs available. This motivated me to get started on a quality product that maintained a feminine appeal."
With a quality Italian chamois that’s more than capable of hacking rides over 20 miles, the pants have been tested up to 40 miles without any discomfort and are slim enough to fit under normal clothes – skirts, jeans and whatever else you may choose to wear.
Initially, the pants which were designed in Austen, Texas, made their way to owners by Kickstarter - but soon after the brand set up an exclusive UK deal with the quickly expanding women’s cycling clothing website, VeloVixen. They’ve since gone on to become the site's strongest selling item – competing against some of the big guns in women’s cycling clothing.
Initially, there were two key styles and designs available – the Brigette and the Bettie – both of which are still well and truly on the market. The Brigette, in a black and white stripe, offers full coverage, with a 50s style rise at the back. The chamois is extra thick and material is both breathable and quick drying – you can work hard in these. Not only that, the waistband is made from a stretch lace to avoid unsightly muffin top.
Since the initial launch, two new patterns have been added – with the Brigette available in polka dot and [our favourite!] leopard print.
“If you’re a lingerie lover and a cyclist, then they’re a bit of a must have."
The other founding product was the Bettie. Designed for those who want to feel a little bit sexier, this version comes with sheer mesh sides, and a cute ruching pattern on the back. The style is slightly lower rise at the waist and higher at the back, and the chamois pad is a little bit thinner. These are perfect for day to day commutes, but you might want a little more protection from a style like the Bridgette for longer or more impactful rides. When our reviewer and fashion writer Adele Mitchell tested these she concluded: “If you’re a lingerie lover and a cyclist, then they’re a bit of a must have."
More recently, Urbanist added one more design in two more styles: the Daisy, in ‘mint swag’ and ‘purple flower’. Closer to a boy short style, the Daisy offers full coverage and actually feels a little bit more like a cross-country running short – though quite a bit prettier. The chamois is the thicker style, making it perfectly adequate for medium to longer daily rides.
We love how this simple idea has proved such a success – and the immediate take up clearly demonstrates that this was a product many women were looking for, perhaps without knowing exactly what the solution was until Guzman created it. Allowing women and girls to commute in comfort, without having to change their clothes, makes cycling just that little bit more accessible – and anything that breaks down barriers between women and bikes can only be a good thing in our opinion.