FOF chats with Bob Deerin, President and CEO of Prime Life Fibers, manufacturer of Wearever Incontinence Underwear.
No reason to get your panties in a bunch any longer over light-to-moderate incontinence. One out of every two women 65 and older experiences the condition, which causes the bladder to leak during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing, or any body movement that puts pressure on it, according to the website of the National Association for Continence. Recognizing the need for an aid, other than adult diapers, entrepreneur Bob Deerin created Wearever, a line of incontinence underwear. The panties look and perform just like normal undergarments, but have a sewn-in, absorbent “Unique-Dri” pads to trap liquid. “We want people who suffer from incontinence to be able to not only wear real underwear instead of diapers, but also to have a choice of attractive colors and styles,” says Bob.
Your website says you started the company after seeing incontinence underwear in Europe.
Europe has always been a bit ahead of the United States in offering reusable products for incontinence, but we didn’t think that the institutional designs we saw in the UK and Germany would sell here. However, we tested the concept and realized it was viable.
From what fabric are the sewn-in pads constructed?
It’s a highly absorbent, non-woven material that can be washed and reused.
Is Wearever meant to replace an adult diaper?
Wearever underwear is for light to moderate urinary incontinence and does not replace diapers for someone with no control of their bladder. It is what we call an ‘active’ product, for men or women who are out and about and don’t want to feel embarrassed when they’re changing at the gym or by the crinkling of a diaper when they move about throughout their day.
Tell us about the fiber that’s used.
The undergarments are made of typical underwear fabrics like cotton. The innovative pad has a top layer of polyester that touches the body and allows liquids in and dries relatively quickly. The middle layer contains a unique silver-based fiber, made by a company called Ageon. The outer layer keeps the moisture within the pad so your clothes stay dry.
Do you have competitors?
Yes, we have competitors, but our product is affordable and doesn’t look institutional, which is why we are the leader in this category. Even so, we still have a way to go. There are over 30 million American adults with incontinence and 99 percent of the $800 million spent at retail on incontinence products each year is on diapers. People still don’t know they have options that will fit their style and budget.
Why aren’t women buying this product by the tons?
People with incontinence used to be embarrassed and didn’t want to run into their neighbors with a pack of adult diapers in their grocery carts. Incontinence has come out in the open over the last five years, thanks to advertising by the pharmaceutical companies. Now, once the consumer knows about and tries Wearever, she becomes a loyal customer. We’re continuing to market our product so that more and more people know about it.
Where do you now sell the product?
Mail order catalogs, drug stores, e-commerce sites such as Amazon and Drugstore.com, as well as our website. We sell singles, three and six packs. There’s a bigger savings when you buy a six pack.
Are there any other benefits of Wearever underwear?
They’re environmentally friendly and the lifespan is very good —the same as other traditional underwear—so you’re not constantly adding diapers to the landfill. Wearever underwear also saves money because they don’t need to be replaced all the time. You can wash and dry them with normal laundry.
What type of styles do you offer?
We have a broad range of styles from prints to lace to seamless shapers but we’re constantly researching and developing new styles. We’re working on designs for lower-cut styles, too.