Airy, light, and recycled – TUKEA’s sustainable underwear

Have you ever wanted to know how to find the right bra for you? No problem, Juliane and Louise from TUKEA will tell you! In an interview, they tell us about their start-up TUKEA for sustainable underwear, why fair products are so important to them, and what body diversity and body literacy mean to them.

Can you please briefly introduce yourselves and your start-up?

We are Juliane Bock and Louise Unger, the co-founders of TUKEA. At TUKEA we make environmentally friendly and fair underwear for women* by women*. The underwear is wire-free, yet supportive, and without the granny look. We currently specialise in large sizes and therefore offer our bra up to cup size 95J.

What exactly does TUKEA mean and how did you come up with the idea for sustainable underwear?

We had the problem of finding sustainable underwear that fit our size. Not wanting to miss out on either aspect and very dissatisfied with what was available on the market, we decided to found TUKEA. We want to produce in a fair and environmentally friendly way and at the same time create underwear that supports. It should also be able to support large sizes and be sexy.

That’s why we decided on the name TUKEA. TUKEA is Finnish and means something like “support, sustain”. And that’s exactly what we want to do, we want to support and sustain – starting with well-fitting underwear in which everyone can feel comfortable and sexy.

Photo Credits: Valeska Achenbach

Sustainability at TUKEA – Where do your products come from and how are they produced?

Our underwear is faily produced in a small family business in Bulgaria. We have already been able to see the working conditions for ourselves and are looking forward to the next visit, which we are planning during our production period.

We try to source our fabrics from Europe. It doesn’t work yet with all materials (metal sliders and rings) but we manage it with our fabrics, rubbers, and labels. The choice of our materials depends very much on the characteristics it has to have to guarantee quality. However, we mainly look at environmentally friendly materials. Only if we absolutely can’t find anything we can use, we resort to conventional materials for the time being. However, we continue to look for alternatives to use in the next collection. We want to become even more sustainable with each collection.

Unfortunately, the choice of sustainable materials is still limited at most retailers and often only available in very large quantities. This makes the search for materials very time-consuming. We expect this to improve as the demand for sustainable alternatives increases.

Airy, light, and made from recycled fabrics – what makes your sustainable underwear so special?

Several aspects come together for us. We don’t want to use underwires, and we won’t in the future. This also applies to preformed cups. There are many reasons for this, but the most important one is that breasts are allowed to be what they are.

What we want to offer instead is:

  • Support without underwire!
  • Fitting bras instead of wrong sizes including back discomfort!
  • Sexiness instead of a granny look!
  • Natural breast shape instead of minimising breasts with minimisers!
  • Airiness instead of congested warmth!

What is body literacy and what role does it play for TUKEA?

We think body literacy is an important tool for feeling more comfortable. Even to find the right underwear. Because if you can read and understand your body well, you can already feel if the bra fits or the underwear pinches when you try it on, and not only after hours of wearing it and after the right of return has expired.

We are only now getting to know our bodies properly and would have liked to have had the feeling of body sensation as a child.

All breasts and body shapes are beautiful! – How do you fight for body diversity in the fashion industry?

We did our last photo shoot exclusively with women* from our community and the retouching of the pictures was just light balancing and colour enhancement. And that’s exactly how we want to continue and further expand the diversity of our models. We want to show women with whom our customers can identify. Neighbours, friends, siblings … just normal women*, because that’s what we look like! And that’s what we want to show. Naturalness in form, colour and, structure.

Why is good weight distribution in the right bra so important for me?

If the bra fits correctly, the optimal weight distribution is such that about 80% of the weight of the breast is carried by the underbust band and only 20% by the straps.

So if your underbust band is too wide, you automatically carry more weight on your shoulders. The larger your chest, the more problematic this is. Unfavourable weight distribution can cause discomforts such as back and neck pain and painful cutting straps.

That is why it is soooo sooo important to see the underbust band separately from the cups! Because the underbust band is your support, your carrying aid, your chest width! The cup is your breast.

So always make sure that your underbust band does not pull up at the back. Because then it’s too wide and your chest is almost exclusively supported by the straps on your shoulders.

Photo Credits: Valeska Achenbach

How do I find the right bra for me? What are your tips?

There is an order to finding the right bra:

  1. First, find out what your underbust size is. The underbust band needs to fit and is usually expressed by the number on most brands (e.g. 85 or 90). Always try on the bra on the widest hooks, as the material will give over time and you’ll be able to enjoy your new bra for longer. We know: Measuring sucks. But it’s the most effective way to find the right size.
  2. Second, comes your cup. We recommend using the scoop and swoop method (where you push your breast into the cup with your hand) to see if you’ve found the right cup size.

These two steps are the nuts and bolts of bra shopping.

If you still have trouble finding a good-fitting bra, you need to delve deeper into breast shape, bra shapes, nipple direction, and menstrual body shapes and variations yourself or get professional advice. We also give tips on this from time to time. So if you want to know more, feel free to drop by or contact us.

How sustainable underwear from TUKEA connects

We love interacting with so many different women* that we connect with through our start-up. On the one hand, almost all women* have similar problems with their bras, on the other hand, all bodies are so different. We love this diversity and find all body shapes beautiful and hope that we can give our customers a good body feeling with our underwear.

Note: This interview often refers to “women”. However, not all women have breasts, and not all who have breasts identify as women. Trans, non-binary or gender-neutral people can also have breasts. That is why at Vulvani when we talk about periods, we use the terms menstruating people or menstruating persons and do not talk about women or girls.

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August 17, 2022
Vivi studiert Journalistik und Kommunikationswissenschaft im schönen Hamburg und ist seit Juli Teil des Vulvani-Teams im Bereich Social Media und Content. Ihre Lieblingsaktivitäten sind: mit Freund:innen durch die Stadt spazieren, Serien bingen und leckeres veganes Essen kochen/schmausen (nicht unbedingt in dieser Reihenfolge). Sie interessiert sich sehr für Menstrual Health und findet, dass es noch soooo viel über den menschlichen Körper zu lernen gibt. Instagram | LinkedIn

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