Maybe it’s just us, but underwear shopping isn’t high on our list of things we like to do for fun. It was the same for Sophie Hopkins and Bianca Robortaccio, the duo behind Bits, a new one-stop shop for all things intimate – underwear, period-wear products and sex toys.
“We were walking down [Melbourne’s] Swan Street one day and we found ourselves outside Mecca,” Robortaccio tells Broadsheet. She met Hopkins when they were both working at the beauty giant. “And we started talking about what it might be like if the two of us could buy bras and undies at the same place. I’ve got big boobs and Sophie has small boobs. And we realised that over the more than 10 years we’ve been friends, we’ve chatted about absolutely everything under the sun, but we had never spoken about our boobs and where we were buying our underwear from. I have to buy mine at specialty stores while Sophie can buy these gorgeous little triangle bras – we never really got to have that experience together.”
Enter Bits, an online store which aims to take the awkwardness out of undie shopping. The website offers free shipping, no minimum spend and easy returns. There’s also a live-chat function (which feels like asking a friend for advice on a purchase you’re unsure about); tips on how to get your measurements right; and size charts specific to each brand.
But it’s not just a place to buy underwear, says Hopkins – it’s about encouraging body positivity and creating a space where people can have conversations about everything from boobs and bums to bleeding (including how to fit a period cup for the first time).
“It allows the customer access and choice,” says Hopkins. “We don’t want to tell the customer how to shop or how she should feel about her body. We are trying to create a community and a platform for people to have those conversations.”
Bits stocks 16 brands, including niche Aussie labels such as Queensland’s Nico, which makes plant-dyed cotton bras with underwire, and Vee Underwear, which makes biodegradable bamboo undies you can bury when they’ve come to the end of their life. There’s also ethical and sustainable Sydney label Lela Lingerie, which has a line of bralettes and underwear made locally using global organic textile standard cotton.
Beyond bras and undies, there are colourful sex toys by Melbourne’s Smile Makers, period cups, and – launching this week – a range of period underwear by We Are Scarlet.
“We wanted to create a conversation around something that has traditionally been a little bit awkward, or a little bit taboo.” says Hopkins. “Both of us had such different experiences, not just in shopping for underwear but in body confidence too. We want to break down some barriers to allow people to feel more confident to talk about these things.”