Subset (formerly Knickey) is an organic cotton underwear company based in the US. They’re known for their comfortable styles, colorful options, and sustainability practices.
I was gifted a couple items from Subset in late December 2020, and wanted to share my unsponsored, long-term experience with their undies. This review will go over Subset’s sustainability as a company, as well as the durability, comfort, and fit of their undies.
This post contains affiliate links and codes, meaning that I earn a small commission from any purchases through those links, at no extra cost to you.
Subset’s Sustainability and Ethics
Subset has a lot of great things going for it. For one, they trace their supply chain from raw materials to finished product. Their cotton comes from an organic farm in Gujarat, India. The fibers are then separated from the seeds in Erode, and spun in neighboring city Tirupur. The yarn is knit, dyed, and sewing in a Fair Trade factory in Tirupur. Finally, orders are packed and shipped from Chelsea, NYC.
Fair Trade ensures safe conditions and living wages, so we know that their factory workers are being treated right. That said, it’s unclear if the whole supply chain is Fair Trade, so it would be helpful for Subset to share more info about that. They have other sustainability certifications, including Oeko-Tex (meaning the product is free from harmful substances) and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard).
Their pieces are made primarily with organic cotton, though they also use some elastane for stretchiness. Their bralettes also use some Tencel and recycled nylon, which are lower-impact materials, as well as a small amount of polyester and spandex in the band.
Subset is 100% carbon-neutral, investing in carbon offsets through Climate Neutral, who ensures that the offset projects are legitimate. Their packages also ship plastic-free in the cutest box.
They also have a US-only recycling program for all brands of undies (as well as socks, tights, bras, and cloth face masks). The collected materials are then turned into things like insulation, cleaning rags, and yarn. The shipping labels cost $5, but you get a 15% discount on your next order.
Finally, Subset cares about diversity and inclusivity. They feature models of different ethnicities and sizes, and their size range is XXS to XXXL. I hope to see them continue to expand their size range; they have been making steady progress on this, as just a year ago, they only had a couple products offered up to XXXL.
My Experience with Subset Underwear after 1.5 Years
I got to try the Mid-Rise Hipster and the High-Rise Brief, and I was also recently sent the Mid-Rise Brief and the Tank Bralettes (which I may review in a separate post).
Things I Love
I’ve tried several sustainable underwear brands, and Subset is one of my favorites. Here’s what I love about them:
The fabric is extremely soft and buttery. Some cotton underwear can feel too thick, but Subset’s is breathable and comfortable. It reminds me of the undies I’ve previously gotten from Aerie (but Subset’s is way more sustainable!).
The gusset width and coverage is just right. I prefer underwear with good coverage, and one of my pet peeves are gussets that are too thin. I haven’t had a problem with the styles I’ve chosen, though I prefer the coverage of the briefs rather than the hipster.
Secure and stylish waistband: the waistband is thin but still holds up well, and it looks cute! The waitband actually reminds me of a pair of undies I got from Victoria’s Secret years ago (that weren’t nearly as comfy because of the thin gusset).
Fair pricing: each pair costs $17, but you can buy a Starter Set of all size styles for $97 ($16.17 each). You can also get 3 for $48 ($16 each), 10 for $150 ($15 each), and 20 for $280 ($14 each). This is pretty on-par with mainstream brands that offer “fancier” underwear. (You can also use code IMPERFECTIDEALIST for 10% off)
True to size: I’m 5’4″ (1.63m) and 125-130lbs (56.7-59kg), and I got a size small. They fit well, and because the fabric is so soft and stretchy, I’d say there’s additional room if needed.
Holistic sustainabilty: There aren’t many brands that use conscious materials, pay their workers fairly, offer eye-catching colors, prioritize inclusivity, and are circular. Subset is one of the few that checks basically every box.
Things to Be Aware of
Since the fabric is so buttery, there’s a risk of wedgies. This is an issue I mainly have with the Mid-Rise Hipster, since the Briefs offer more coverage and also have elastic at the leg holes (though I do sometimes also notice wedgies with the Mid-Rise Brief). I almost wish the fabric was a bit less buttery so it would stay in place more.
There is a floating gusset in the front. The extra layer of fabric on the gusset is sometimes open on the front end and sewn down in the back (it used to be that some styles had a floating gusset on both sides, or it was completely sewn down, but it’s since been standardized). The Subset team let me know that the floating gusset is to prevent potential irritation.
The elastic can wear easily if you use a dryer. I typically air dry my clothing, but I’ve been living with my family for most of this year, and basically all the laundry gets thrown in the dryer. I noticed that little elastic threads have started coming out of the waistband of my Subset pieces after one year. It’s not enough to compromise the fit, but it makes me wonder how much longer the undies will hold up.
Update: The Subset team let me know that they replaced this elastic with a stronger version on their new products since this was common feedback they got. This new elastic is supposed to no longer have this issue, and I’ll update this post after my new pair gets more wear.
The stitching can also wear easily. Speaking of longevity, the waistband of my Mid-Rise Hipster started coming unstitched from the fabric after just a few months (while I was mainly air-drying). It was an easy fix, but it was strange to see this issue so early on. I didn’t have this issue with the High-Rise Brief, so it’s possible it got snagged in the wash, but I want to mention it to be as honest as possible.
All in all, I love what Subset is doing as a brand, and I find their underwear really comfortable, minus the wedgies from the lower-coverage styles. If you use your dryer a lot, I’m not sure I would recommend Subset for the sake of durability (I’d suggest Boody underwear instead), but if you air dry, then I think your undies will last a long time.
I hope this review was helpful, and please leave any questions in the comments! If you’re wanting to shop Subset, it would mean a lot if you used my affiliate link and 10% off code (IMPERFECTIDEALIST).
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