Hi, I'm Katherine Homuth, the Founder and Inventor of SHEERTEX. In long form: we're a relentlessly inventive and transparent apparel company that invented a patent-pending stretch sheer knit that was one of TIME Magazine’s 50 Best Inventions of 2018. (Talk about having your mind blown!)

We launched our first pair of pantyhose last year, and reached hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding within a few hours. Since then, we've expanded our size range up to 3XL, released nudes in inclusive shades, launched a luxe bridal collection (don't get hot under that dress!), and are releasing a specialized dance collection and kids line later this month. (Whew!)

We have tons more incredible new products coming and our collection is entirely driven by insight and feedback from our community. We would love to hear your ideas and your questions.

Ask me anything!

Proof: https://sheertex.com/pages/redditama

Comments: 891 • Responses: 44  • Date: 

VerbableNouns1629 karma

10 times stronger than steel

Also

10 times stronger than other leading brands

Are you implying regular pantyhose are as strong as steel?

tonkaty518 karma

Steel isn’t actually that strong of a material in tension compared to other fibre based polymers and materials.

It would be more interesting if they provided yield and ultimate tensile strength of their material and what type of fatigue properties are exhibited.

kathomuth204 karma

Our polymer has yield strength as high as 2.4 GPa and a strength-to-weight ratio up to 10 times that of steel. Prior to Sheertex it was never made nearly fine enough for sheer applications (30 denier and below). The sheerest it was generally made on the market was 100 denier and above and was generally reserved for applications like bulletproof vests, climbing equipment, and fishing line.

mickeybuilds20 karma

I'm going to make nylon armor. I'll be UNSTOPPABLE!!

kathomuth50 karma

You're really not far off, prior to Sheertex on of the primary applications for our polymer was bulletproof vests. We've taken than and made a much sheerer version. But as our lawyer likes to say, these are for the boardroom not the battlefield.

kathomuth69 karma

We usually say lasts up to 10x longer than designer brands as opposed to 10x stronger, because you're right our fiber is much more than 10x stronger on a weight by weight basis compared to a nylon for example.

stabby_joe28 karma

Unbreakable

I have two 700 tonne weights that would like to argue otherwise.

kathomuth67 karma

We like to say unbreakable in the hands of your strongest friend. Totally unbreakable in human hands, at least I haven't found any one strong enough yet.

IGFanaan70 karma

Get ahold of the actor that plays the mountain on Game of Thrones. Forgot how to spell his name. Send him a pair and ask him to record himself trying to tear it.

Should prove your point quiet effortlessly.

kathomuth8 karma

Haha. This would be great!!

___o----56 karma

Why do you give only a 30-day guarantee on the pantyhose if it's so strong? Wouldn't a 12-month guarantee (or 10-year guarantee) be more appropriate? Especially if you are charging $79-$99 a pair.

kathomuth28 karma

We're still honestly learning what the limits of the product are. We started shipping product in December of last year (4 months!). 30 days was an easy number that we knew would give our customers confidence that they would be able to get the product, try it, and see for themselves that we aren't bull****ing them, that this is real. I'm sure the length and terms of our guarantees will evolve in time as we learn more about the product and wear cycles though.

DoggystyleFTW23 karma

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kathomuth15 karma

I'm so excited to one day try to make a pair of pantyhose out of spidersilk...

yawetag12200 karma

How environmentally-friendly are your hose? Will we see a dolphin wearing one in a few years?

kathomuth303 karma

Today over 1 billion pairs of pantyhose end up in the landfill every year, after just 1-2 wears, and take over 50 years to decompose. A big motivation behind this invention was to create something much more durable, and non disposable. Our sheers can last dozens and dozens of wears. Ultimately we are looking to create a trading program that will allow our customers to send back old pairs that we can break down and turn into new fiber.

somaRM200 karma

So not very eco friendly, but the exchange program should fix that. Wish more companies did that. Would you offer a discount on a new pair ass an incentive to return the old pairs for repurposing?

kathomuth148 karma

Yes! That's exactly what we're thinking. I think it will be really important to find ways to incentive customers to return the product. We are even looking at running return programs in partnerships with municipalities where we'd encourage anyone to send us their "pantyhose graveyard" as we call it - of regular nylons. So that we can make sure the billions of existing pairs of old nylons sitting in drawers can get ground and repurposed as well.

wirral_guy104 karma

You might want to talk to Terracycle. They team up with companies to offer recycling schemes. I use them (as a consumer) for several recycling schemes and they seem to have a good handle on the process.

They should have some good ideas around how to set a scheme up, costs, viability etc.

kathomuth81 karma

Thank you! Very interesting. They look awesome. Will definitely reach out.

[deleted]-3 karma

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kathomuth26 karma

Unfortunately no - it's not biodegradable. It's environmental advantages, come from it's non-disposability. That said, the polymer has an exceptionally high value on a per gram basis which makes a return/exchange program more economically viable for this fiber typical lower value textiles and polymers.

tacobelley18 karma

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kathomuth31 karma

Interestingly the fastest growing segment of the pantyhose industry is millennials. Today over 1 billion pairs of pantyhose are sold every year and surprisingly the market actually growing a few percent a year. Ever since I got into this industry, I walk around and see pantyhose everywhere!! I never really noticed it before. Most of our customers are women aged 25 - 45, living in urban areas.

manwithabazooka14 karma

What is the flammability like?

kathomuth30 karma

Our polymer has a relatively low melting point, 136 degree C. So it's fine for traditional apparel, but not great as a replacement for textiles made with aramid fibers.

Oax_Mike10 karma

What is the inventing process like?

Did you physically invent this product, like in your own at-home lab? Or it is more something you theorized and then had existing pantyhose manufacturers tinker with?

What kind of equipment is needed to manufacture your product? Is it done at your own facility or outsourced?

What did you do before inventing this product and launching this business? Have you always been an inventor or always worked in the clothing industry or was this a side project?

kathomuth67 karma

The process of developing this was so much fun, and so much harder than I initially anticipated. My background was in software and hardware manufacturing, not apparel. When I started working on this idea (about 2 years ago), I wasn't sure if it would be possible but my initial hypothesis was that if I could find an incredibly strong fiber that was also fine enough for hosiery I could create something way stronger than what is on the market today. I started by ordering spools of supposedly "strong" apparel fibers through distributors, Alibaba, you name it. They had to be super low denier (fine) and they had to be super strong (high tensile strength). All of the first fibers I tried would break as you pulled them off the spool. So I started ordering high performance fibers, like aramids/kevlar. I was literally googling, calling around, and ordering samples off Amazon and Alibaba for months. The biggest problem was that everything I found that was strong was way too thick. Eventually I found a factory willing to run samples in what I though was the most promising fiber, but after running one leg they told me they wouldn't run it any more because we were breaking all of their machines. But at least I got the single sample back, and it was enough to tell me that if I could make this finer, color it and make it stretch, it might just work! From there I raised a 250k angel round based on my awful prototype (it looked like cheese cloth), and 2 years later we have a product that is virtually indistinguishable from regular sheers. Ultimately we had to develop a custom version of the fiber that was much finer than my initial tests and we extrude it in colors usable in hosiery. We also set up our manufacturing facility from scratch here in Canada.

cortechthrowaway4 karma

How does the fabric feel? And how long will it retain its elasticity?

I have a lot of kevlar / aramid motorcycle gear; while the fabric is tough as hell, it also tends to be scratchy and stiff.

If you've created a flexible aramid weave, there's going to be a huge market, way beyond pantyhose.

kathomuth7 karma

The fabric honestly feels just like regular pantyhose. Even I was surprised just how much like regular pantyhose they look and feel. The elasticity remains just as long as any other spandex garment would. And its not scratchy or stiff at all. The only property it doesn't have over aramids is that it has a lower melting point - so it's not a great fire retardant material - which might mean it's not perfect in a motorcycle gear application. But there are definitely lots of things beyond pantyhose that we imagine it in down the line!

ih8karma4 karma

The real question is could you make the worlds only unbreakable, cooling mens tighty whiteys. I have some that are 5-6 yr old and need to be replaced because of "wear and tear" but if you make some that are unbreakable AND cooling, well you'll have a customer for life?

kathomuth3 karma

This is a great idea. Underwear is definitely on the list of things we think Sheertex would be a great fit for down the line.

outer_space_agent4 karma

Did you have any troubles with existing patents which you had to circumnavigate around during the development process?

kathomuth9 karma

Interestingly very little has ever been done with very fine versions of this fiber before. We're patent pending on our knit right now, and there really wasn't much prior work done at the deniers we are working with.

Chtorrr4 karma

What is the very best dessert?

kathomuth33 karma

I'd have to go with tiramisu.

entropylove3 karma

Any unexpected or surprising applications of the material yet?

kathomuth22 karma

We've had people reach out to us to use Sheertex in everything from filtration systems, to protective gloves, pollution masks, military uniforms, safety vests, tents, you name it. Eventually we brands using the Sheertex fabric as a stronger / lighter weight alternative in a large variety of traditional textiles.

VESTINGboot3 karma

How and why did you come up with the idea?

kathomuth18 karma

Before Sheertex I was working in the connected devices / hardware space. I was surrounded by super smart people who were spending there time creating products that often didn't seem to be solving any really problem. It was "connected everything", whether the world needed it or not. So when I set out to start my next company, I really wanted to just start with a real problem - something super annoying - and let the technology some second. Pantyhose made the list, but honestly I didn't think it was what I was going to end up doing. I mean - pantyhose - really? But then I started researching and just got sucked into a rabbit hole of fibers and knit technology, I was fascinated. And after a few months I was convinced there was a way to do this not just a bit better but to fundamentally change the way pantyhose are done today.

ncdave3 karma

Any thoughts to make dance tights for kids? Asking for a daughter who never seems to have a pair of tights without holes in them...

kathomuth10 karma

Funnily enough dance is next! We're launching dance tights for kids and adults at the end of this month. You can sign up for more updates here > https://sheertex.com/pages/dance

thewinnern12 karma

Are you the first inventor of this thing? Why it is not common in the market?

kathomuth1 karma

Yes, we're the first one to ever do this. Prior to us the polymer we use didn't even exist fine enough to make a sheer hosiery product, we had to do that. Even today you can't buy our fiber on the market. We expect now that we've proven its possible, the rest of the market will start to move. So we're constantly creating new products, lower deniers, and improvements to the knit to stay ahead of the curve.

Benukysz2 karma

You mentioned using angel investments. What implications does that have?

kathomuth9 karma

The angel investors now own a percentage of the company, we took on the investments through SAFEs (simple agreement for future equity). Since then we've gone on the take on other capital as well from larger investors. Having investors definitely has implications, it's no longer just about you and you have a responsibility to the other shareholders. As an entrepreneur beyond just being careful about how much ownership you give away, you'll want to be aware of what other types of control you're giving away at the board and share voting levels if you're going to take on outside capital.

NotThoseThings2 karma

What if you really let one rip?

kathomuth11 karma

I think you'd be a bit embarrassed...

drizzyjake7447-3 karma

How much money have you made so far off of it?

kathomuth6 karma

Personally? I am the majority owner of the company, but all of my 'money' is in stock, and any money we make gets reinvested to continue growing the business. While I've been developing this for 2 years, the company has only been shipping product for 4 months (although it feels like years!) and we're producing about 3000 units a month right now.

drizzyjake7447-1 karma

So you’re company is producing the product and selling it, rather than you selling your idea to a larger company?

kathomuth12 karma

That's correct! Today we make all of our own product in house in our factory and sell it direct to consumers. Ultimately we see ourselves producing product on behalf of other brands, but we see direct to consumer as the fastest way to get the technology in as many hands as possible.

DaaaaGAME-20 karma

What is it like to lose the game in unbreakable pantyhose?

kathomuth7 karma

Thanks so much for your comment. I'm not quite sure I understand the question. Can you clarify?