Challenger to Watch: Heist

For elevating a wardrobe staple

How do you feel about your tights? This boring, humble wardrobe staple rarely gets airtime.

Prompted to ask this question by Heist, my reflection has been that what we put up with is pretty dreadful. Tights ladder, go baggy, slip down, develop Halloween-like holey toes and are pretty darn uncomfortable. Thankfully, Heist is here to wake us from our lethargic tolerance of sub-standard hosiery.

Heist is on a mission to innovate in underwear. Launched in 2015, tights are its first port of call. The status quo of the industry has been to deliver products that are either practical or sexy. Practical tights meaning your underwear choice and quality of product remains as it did at primary school. Sexy tights (or we could say impractical) are those best saved for fancy dress.

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Heist’s team are not fashion insiders and as such they don’t come to work with the pre-existing wisdom of the industry. Instead this start-up is purely concentrating on injecting science into underwear design.

Heist's ‘intelligent’ tights took 12 months, 197 samples and 67 women to create. It has stolen with pride from the luxe sportswear category to create a waistband that doesn’t make you look like a stuffed sausage. By using a 3D manufacturing technique, Heist eradicates the need to utter the prudish word ‘gusset’ ever again.

So far, so good. Everybody from Vogue to the Huffington Post has given the resulting product the thumbs up. The numbers are looking good too, Heist has raised $2.6 million from Net-a-Porter’s Natalie Massenet and top fashion venture capitalists.

One challenge Heist faces is that it’s not obvious what brand of tights somebody is wearing. So to get the word out there, the brand needed to achieve fame.

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Heist's first two above the line campaigns have been bold. The first caused controversy that a feminist brand like Heist can only dream of. Transport for London demanded that the woman’s naked back in their London Underground poster be covered up in post-production.

Heist subsequently complained to the press about blatant double standards (surely a male back wouldn’t be deemed too saucy for somebody commuting on the Piccadilly line?) and the story was picked up by multiple news agencies, catapulting Heist into the public eye.

Embracing the trend for body positivity, Heist’s latest campaign doesn’t feature bodies at all.

 #WhateverYou campaign by Rapp 

#WhateverYou campaign by Rapp 

"Why do campaigns selling bodywear, lingerie or underwear to women treat them like objects?", co-founder Edzard van der Wyck told The Drum, "worse than that – objects for men to ogle. We don't want to sell bodies. We want to sell bodywear.”

Instead this campaign uses different shapes, sizes and the rich texture of fruit to flag that the brand is open to people of all sizes who want to wear tights. This is reflected in Heist’s range which runs inclusively from a UK 4 to 24.  

Following its headline-grabbing Underground campaigns, consumers are now realising that not all tights are created equal. Combining this with the unrelenting trend for premiumisation, Heist looks like a challenger to watch in 2018.

Emily is a strategist at eatbigfish and a wannabe social scientist. This year she found her spiritual home in Peckham and recently tried to poison the office with a creative interpretation of Nadiya’s peanut butter biscuits.