Remember Those “Free” Facebook Leggings? We Tried Them Out

Update, February 1, 2017: Girlfriend Collective has just announced that their free leggings promotion will be ending this week. You still have the chance to grab a pair until the end of Friday, February 3.

This story was originally published on November 29, 2016.
I’ll admit: When I first saw a Facebook ad back in May for a free pair of leggings (just pay shipping!), I rolled my eyes and continued on. I assumed it was yet another sketchy online retailer selling poor-quality products on the cheap. You know, the kind that show one thing, and when you actually get the product into your own hands, it's terrible? It wasn't until I saw a similar headline here on Refinery29 (yes, shameless self-promotion), that I figured it was time I maybe paid the offer some attention. In the piece, written last May, Ellie Dinh, the cofounder and creative director of Girlfriend Collective (the start-up producing these almost too-good-to-be-true "free" leggings), explained that this viral promotion was not, in fact, an empty gimmick. The brand launched with one product — plain black, eco-friendly leggings made in Vietnam, under certified humane conditions and out of recycled plastic water bottles. Instead of spending money on advertising, GC decided to use that budget to actually get its items in the hands of consumers, betting that those happy customers would then spread the word organically. Dinh told us: "We know that if we can just get somebody into a pair of our leggings, and let them know and experience firsthand what we stand for — they'll fall in love." I was tempted to test this theory; 10 minutes after reading it, I had paid $20 for shipping and received an email confirming the leggings would be on their way to me — but not until August, at least. Due to a massive influx of orders (Dinh says she received over 10,000 on the first day alone), the wait time for shipping was long, but supposedly worth it. Cut to a few weeks ago, when the (long-awaited but admittedly semi-forgotten) bottoms finally arrived. I spent a better part of the following weekend taking them for a test drive, and here’s what I learned.
Photo: Courtesy of Girlfriend Collective.
GC’s website FAQ section claims the leggings are “high quality” in terms of four categories: fiber, fabric, fit, and construction. Indeed, the fabric felt thick and durable at first touch, though the fit seemed rather tiny. When I actually put them on, though, they were stretchy enough to fit comfortably. According to the brand, they are meant to have “the perfect amount” of compression — they're reportedly crafted from “the best blend of spandex to compress your muscles (so they achieve optimum performance), but don’t make you feel tightly bandaged.” Skeptical as I was, I will say I found this to be true. The longer I wore them, the more they seemed to mold to my form, and the results were, quite literally, warm and comfy. These seemed to perfectly conform to my curves (and what Bridget Jones might refer to as "wobbly bits"), without being too tight or restrictive. My one issue with the fit was that I didn’t realize quite how high the rise would be (the waistband hit about six inches above my belly button). But, while it wasn't exactly what I had anticipated, it didn't take away from the overall experience. And, though I was concerned about washing them — in regards to both retaining the fit and wondering if the color would bleed — so far, so good. After a few washes (cold water and air dry), I’m happy to report my "free" leggings haven’t had any issues thus far. If you're looking to take advantage of the bold promotion, it’s still going on. As the cold weather sets in, and winter weekends approach (hello, my couch and Netflix), I know I'm going to get tons of mileage out of these leggings. Here's to the best damn chance I ever took on a Facebook ad.

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