If you’re new to period underwear, you might be picturing something bulky that doesn’t quite sit right under your clothes. Devotees know differently, especially with the rise of high-quality, well-designed labels out there dedicated to period undies and accessories. In Aotearoa, Awwa Period Care has been at the forefront of this movement since it was founded four years ago.

Created by Michele Wilson and Kylie James, the Indigenous- and female-owned B-Corp certified company has several size-inclusive ranges of underwear and swimwear – and its newest Lush sets are some of the prettiest we’ve seen.

Made from Tencel Modal, a beechwood fibre fabric that’s used for its softness and breathability, the Lush styles can be bought separately as tops and bottoms, or as matching sets. The undies come in high-waisted or cheeky styles and can hold two pads or tampons worth of liquid for average to moderate flow. The wire-free bras have scooped necklines, cut-out details and stitched under-busts for support. Available in black, dusky blue and rusty orange, both the knickers and the bras have a beautiful scallop detail around the edges.

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“The idea came to me because I wanted people to feel a sense of comfort and contentment when they had their period, while also developing a product that you would want to wear even when you don’t have your period,” Wilson tells Broadsheet of the Lush set’s design. Tencel is a sustainable material that moulds to the body and doesn’t cut in, she adds. “All things I look for in my underwear! Just because we have our period doesn’t mean we can’t be comfortable and even feel a little sexy.”

Awwa worked with designer Anja Bucher (ex-Lonely Lingerie) and technical designer Ella Sarjant on the range. “We drew a lot of inspiration from vintage lingerie and looked at ways we could modernise classic styles,” says Bucher.

Beyond its ranges, Awwa is committed to shifting the taboo around menstruation. The name comes from the Māori word “awa”, meaning river or flow. Periods were traditionally called “awa o te atua” or the divine river, and they were celebrated. The company is also dedicated to making period underwear more accessible. “[We have donated] more than 9500 pairs of undies to schools, NGOs and registered charities since our inception”, says Wilson. Using period underwear also prevents millions of single-use products from ending up in landfill.

On the company’s website, you’ll find comprehensive resources and articles all focused educating people on that time of the month. “We have gone through decades of girls, women and people feeling shame about their periods, and even though that’s still the case to some extent, we have seen a huge shift in the attitudes towards periods and period products since we started Awwa period care four years ago,” says Wilson.

“Recently, we started working with dads to help them better understand how we can re-indigenise periods [and to help them support] members of their family when they have their ikura [period]. Our aim is to break down the patriarchy one family at a time!”

Awwa Period Care is stocked around New Zealand, online with international shipping, and in Australia at The Yoga Place Cafe, Favourite Daughter and Biome.