One out of every six American women have been the victims of aome form of sexual assualt in their lifetimes, according to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
Safe Shorts were designed by Sandra Seilz, a German woman who wanted a portable safety device for solo female runners following an attack from three men who attempted to rape her.
Safe Shorts are designed with a flexible layer of light, flexible, tear-resistant material. The same fabric is used in bullet proof vests but is designed in a way that women can wear the shorts comfortably while running. Safe Shorts have a lock that prevents an attacker from unbuttoning the shorts without a code. A 130 decibel alarm system is also rigged inside the shorts. The alarm can be activated manually by the runner or by an attacker if they continue to pull on the shorts.
Emily Alsop, John Brown University student with an associates degree in fashion design, said. “They’ve obviously done a lot of really intense work on it because honestly I don’t know how someone could think of something like that. I mean, it’s crazy and creative.”
Alsop said she first saw the shorts marketed in a Facebook video, but was unaware of all of the features incorporated into Safe Shorts. Similarly, freshman cross country runner Sarah Larson never saw Safe Shorts prominently advertised in any media news outlets
“Honestly, I’m kind of oblivious when it comes to that,” Larson said. “Sometimes I run with my phone but usually I run by main streets [when running alone].” Larson said that while Safe Shorts are an interesting concept, she’s worried about the expense of replacing all her running shorts. Safe Shorts cost between 89 and 129 euros, which is about the same equivalent in dollars. Instead, Larson said she would probably buy pepper spray or a pocket knife to save money.
To better market the shorts, Alsop suggests the designers change the image of Safe Shorts. “From a design standpoint, they’re not necessarily the most attractive shorts,” Alsop said. “I would probably add a color or pattern because women actually like those kind of things.” Along with a change in physical appearance, Alsop would promote the shorts more on social media and YouTube.
“Traditional forms of advertising in newspapers or on television shows wouldn’t reach the target market, which is women, who tend to be more vocal about these kind of things,” Alsop said. “Even getting a couple influencers who are very vocal about issues having to do with rape or sexism would be a very good way to market.”
“They’re amazing to me because they’ve combined the design and artistic side with a very scientific approach,” Alsop said. “That’s a really interesting trend that’s been happening in the fashion industry, combining technology and design.”