Icon is gearing up for some real growth and adding staff to carry it out.
The editorial boundary-ignoring, “pee-proof” women’s underwear brand, which is a sister line of the “period-proof” underwear line Thinx, has its first creative director in Clifford Borress, who joined Icon last week as part of a broader wave of hiring aimed at expansion.
Borress joins Icon from AIGA — a nonprofit design association that works to advance design across an array of fields — where he served as creative director from 2014. In his new role at Icon, Borress will be overseeing all creative aspects of the brand, including marketing and product design. A spokesman for Icon said Borress is “hitting the ground running” and is already heading up a new product set for release at the end of this month.
Borress said he was drawn to Icon because of its design-forward approach, especially coming out of a “design-focused community at AIGA,” as well as what the brand represents, which he described as a mix of “social impact, product innovation, lifestyle and wellness.”
“It’s really special for a company to be involved in so many cultural conversations in such a thoughtful and considered way,” he added. “As a creative director, Thinx/Icon uses design, editorial insights and brand strategy to not have the simple conversation, but rather create conversations.”
Kejal Macdonald, vice president of marketing at Icon, noted that the company’s “secret sauce lies in our experimental approach and hiring top-tier creative talent” and said Borress fits that bill.
“Clifford’s unique branding process and background make him a perfect leader for our design team,” she said.
While Borress’ work will not cross over with Thinx, both brands already share a similar approach to marketing and product innovation, utilizing hyper-absorbent, wicking, antimicrobial and washable fabrics and showing off the underwear in editorial campaigns that lean on female diversity and the reality of menstruation and occasional bladder leaks. The underwear sell for roughly $40 through an only direct-to-consumer model.
And they are selling. While the company declined to give specific revenue numbers, sales of the underwear brands combined increased 50 percent in 2017, and Icon alone increased by 130 percent. It now makes up 25 percent of the company’s overall business, but the company declined to comment on profitability.
That growth has led to a focus on expansion this year. Together, Icon and Thinx currently have 44 people on staff, but the goal is to nearly double that to 78 employees. The hiring wave is not being funded by any additional outside investment, the company said.
The apparent success of the brand comes after a turbulent year, in which Thinx founder Miki Agrawal was pushed out of the company amid allegations by some employees, made in reports by New York Magazine’s The Cut, Racked and a complaint with New York’s Commission on Human Rights, that her eccentric leadership style had sometimes crossed over into a hostile workplace and harassment.
Agrawal, by her own account in a blog post on Medium, “gave up control” of the company in March 2017, shortly after the allegations became public. She admitted that the allegations were “weird” and stemmed from her failure to consider human resources needs during the early success of the company, but maintained she had “proof of what actually happened.”
Maria Molland Selby came on as ceo at the end of July, tasked with growing Thinx and Icon into global brands, as well as the implementation of new company policies and practices.
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