But it all started way back, in January 2021. Intermission traffic was stagnant, and like many others trapped at home, Richtman spent most of his time online. She’s always been a fan of thongs: A proud, self-proclaimed exhibitionist and an admirer of sheer clothing, Richtman admitted to wearing them exclusively, even in her sleep. Yet she could never find the exact style she wanted.
“I was looking for a very hyper-specific silhouette,” she tells Fashionista. “I wanted something very reminiscent of ’80s bikinis, very dramatic and risque – it’s a shape that I’ve seen working in vintage for so many years. I posted on Instagram and I got so many responses from people , who told me that this one [kind of silhouette] was exactly what they were looking for, but none of us had any idea where to get it.”
This enthusiastic response was the spark of energy and inspiration Richtman needed to jumpstart the project. She began researching patternmakers and production facilities in the city, in addition to receiving peer reviews and real-time suggestions from her audience via Instagram.
“It was the funnest thing ever to experience because it reminded me of the feeling I got from The Break,” she says. “The Break is also such an IRL community hub.”
After developing and reworking the tiny outfit for two years, Richtman finally launched Gush in October. 6. Over 2,000 people signed up for the waiting list. Just before its release, the $42 thong — which comes in sizes XS-XL — was spotted Julia Fox during Vogue‘s New York Fashion Week party in September.
It’s made from an opaque fabric that’s comfortable and stretchy and also wicks away moisture, perfect for those days when you’re…how do we say…bubbly both metaphorically and literally.
Speaking of the word “gush,” it appealed to Richtman as a name for many reasons, the first being that it simply “rolls off the tongue, but it also sounds a little muddy.”
“There’s this double meaning—it’s very wet, and it’s a very strong fluid force, like water cascading,” she adds. “It has this sexual undertone that I felt was really cheeky and fun. Most importantly, it’s that sense of euphoria when you’re gushing over something you’re so excited about and you find other people who are so excited about it thing.”
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Thongs has been around for many, many years, but unlike other wardrobe staples that are constantly reinvented, it hasn’t really changed, Richtman argues: “They go through trends, but I feel like we’ve never really evolved from the typical straight -on-fit .”
Throughout the design process, Richtman used himself as a tester and model, distributing batches of samples to friends and followers. She brought the concept to life as an “it” thong that prioritizes comfort, as well as the coveted silhouette inspired by the über-dramatic high waists of the 80s and 90s.
“I wanted a material that was very stretchy. I have curves, so I wanted to figure out a way to use a material that was incredibly forgiving and didn’t show sweat stains,” she says. “I also wanted this very deep, dramatic shape, while also giving a little bit more coverage. I don’t think I’ll ever be fully satisfied, but I’m getting real-time reviews to keep tweaking it, so it can be as good as it can possibly be for the people who want it. I’m very happy with where we ended up.”
For Richtman, that wouldn’t have been possible with the digital and IRL community that powers Gush.
“It was less about me being like, ‘This absolutely doesn’t exist,’ and more about, ‘I’m so excited to do my version with all my new friends because it brings us joy,'” she says. “It wasn’t really my intention to build a thong empire by any means – it was more of me feeling inspired to work on a product that I inherently love and want for myself.”
After my conversation with Richtman, I put the strap to the test. Gush comes encased in an elegant blue box and sealed metallic package. After slipping into it, I immediately noticed how high it sits at my waist, just above the hip bone. It has crimped seams, but barely came out below my preferred bottom. Every time I wore it I was surprised at how comfortable it actually was. (I mean, I know a lot of us are tired of suffocating underwear that leaves stretchy marks at the end of the day.) I even took my Gush to an intense Pilates class and commuted in it all day with no leaks or sweat stains in vision.
As a more modest dresser, I’m not usually one to bare my underwear through see-through ensembles or low-cut pants, but Richtman assures I can pair Gush with any outfit I choose. She also emphasized that I don’t need to love wearing thongs or Gush — it’s all about experimenting with different styles and brands.
“It looks like a white T-shirt,” she says. “Think about how many cuts there are and how some people look better in a small cropped t-shirt or an oversize. It’s the same with a personal intimate experience: I find this shape most flattering on me, and I feel the most confident about it. I hope other people feel the same when they put it on, but not everyone will — and that’s okay. There are so many other thongs on the market.”
Like many, I’m a now-converted fan, and Gush is just the beginning. Maybe we’ll get different silhouettes and colors soon, or even matching bralettes.
“I still want to continue this family affair where we all design this thong together, because that was the best part,” Richtman says. “That enthusiasm, that encouragement and that feedback – it feels like I’m working on this with a team. I didn’t feel isolated in the whole process. And even though I don’t consider myself a designer, I have a very specific idea about things I love to wear. And if other people love them too, I’m happy to share.”