SheFly Apparel began with a simple question: Why is it so much easier for men to pee outside than it is for women? Men can just turn around and unzip their flies, while women must search for privacy, strip half-naked and bare their bums to cold weather, mosquitoes, spiky plants and other people. That’s about to change, as three students at Middlebury College in Vermont have designed a better way — or a better pant, that is.
In 2018, Georgia Grace Edwards, Bianca Gonzalez and Charlotte Massey founded SheFly Apparel, an outdoor brand dedicated to equality and inclusivity through innovative product design.
“It’s a layerable line of outdoor pants for women that allow us to comfortably, safely and easily answer nature’s call in the outdoors, says Edwards. “As a product that lies at the intersection of female empowerment and outdoor accessibility, our pants give women the power to adventure anywhere, anytime of year, without being inhibited by their gear.”
Their first product, the SheFly pant, features a patent-pending zipper design that allows women to pee with their pants on and their bums warm. Now that the SheFly pant has launched on the crowdfunding platform iFundWomen, we caught up with the women of SheFly to learn more about the story behind and future of their innovative product.
How did you come up with the idea?
Georgia Grace Edwards: When I was working as a guide on Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska, it was impossible not to notice the extreme difficulty I was having using the bathroom compared to my male counterparts. While they simply had to turn around and unzip their flies, I found myself trekking across crevasses to find enough privacy, removing three or four layers in freezing temperatures, doing my thing, then putting my layers back on and hiking back to the group. I thought to myself, “There has got to be a better way to do this.”
What makes the SheFly pant unique?
Charlotte Massey: No one has seriously redesigned women’s pants in decades. Zipper flies help everyone take their pants on and off, but they also allow men to easily use the bathroom. In contrast, women are left with our asses hanging out in the cold. Women have dealt with this problem since pants became common in the 1930s, but this is the first large-scale commercial design for a better zipper fly that works with the female anatomy. We’re making women’s lives easier and more comfortable while hiking, biking, rock climbing, mountaineering and peeing on the side of the road on extended road trips.
What has your product development process been like?
Bianca Gonzalez: Product development has been a whirlwind. When we first started as students, we’d sit on our dorm room floor and do a less-than-ideal sewing job to get the idea across to people. In conversations about the prototypes, we found an inherent desire for this product from all the outdoorsy women we spent time with. We soon realized we couldn’t keep sewing these ourselves, so we found seamstresses throughout Vermont to help execute our concept. We then connected with other designers in New York City and abroad. It’s been a process that’s taken longer than anticipated, but that comes with creating something new.
What was your first experience with the SheFly pant?
CM: I tested a prototype pair while taking a glacier crevasse rescue course on Mount Baker in Washington. I spent five days on a glacier with three guys I’d never met. Normally, I would’ve awkwardly wandered away from camp to find privacy and avoided pee breaks altogether on big summit pushes. But with the SheFly pant, I just turned around and peed, with my harness still on, just like the guys. I felt like I had a superpower and knew this was something necessary for every outdoorswoman.
How do you see SheFly growing and shaping the outdoor apparel industry?
GGE: I envision a world where women don’t have to think twice before using the bathroom outside, a world where women are entirely uninhibited by their gear. We’re onto something, and we won’t stop until we’ve demonstrated this demand to every other apparel company out there. Human-centric, specifically woman-centric, design always has been and always will be the strategy that improves equality and accessibility in the world. SheFly is emerging at a time when female empowerment initiatives are making headway in every sector of society. We are inspired to be part of these movements and grateful to the women who’ve paved the way. Progress in women’s apparel in the outdoor industry has been slow but steady, and we are excited to help spark a new phase of fun practicality in this space.
Photos by Dayle Massey, Morgan Edwards, and Ruthless and Wellington.
XX Charlotte Massey