The Year of the Vibrator Isn’t Over Yet
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“Vibrators, decades and decades ago, used to be marketed as gender-inclusive, external health devices,” Maude founder and CEO Éva Goicochea said the other morning, beamed in from the company’s office in north Brooklyn. “It was, like, ‘Use this around your eyes, use this around your, you know. Obviously there was subtext,” said Goicochea, in her matter-of-fact way. “But I don’t think that’s a terrible idea.” If, in a prudish era, you could market a device with an imagined variety of uses, could you now—in this time of just-about-anything goes—make a legitimate case for that kind of wide-ranging utility? “I think that’s actually the right idea,” she added, “to think about it just like caring for yourself and your partner.”

That is the preamble for Drop, the new egg-shaped, three-speed design from Maude that nestles into the palm of one’s hand. It’s the second entry into the vibrator space from the sexual-wellness brand, which launched in 2018 with a starting lineup that included easy-to-open condoms, two formulas of lube (to suit different usages), and the understated Vibe. Even though the collective mood around female founders at the time was rah-rah and pink (of the pastel, salmon-tinged variety), Goicochea situated Maude as a universal good. (As she told me that spring, why must a sex toy be treated like a fetish object, when something like “70 percent of women don’t orgasm during sex? It’s an essential item.”) Inclusive in scope with a minimalist aesthetic—the dove-gray Vibe seemed more in tune with Noguchi sculptures than anything seen on Sex and the City—Maude was for everyone: alone or together, day or night. The tagline spoke to its positioning as a matter of well-being: “A better morning is coming.”

Maude founder and CEO Éva Goicochea, left, with the brand’s co-creative director Dakota Johnson.

By Sharon Radisch/Courtesy of Maude.

What qualifies as “wellness” has undergone a sea change in the past three years—none more so than the last. Amid an unfolding pandemic, lockdowns instituted a new cloistered reality. (As the NYC Health Department famously advised residents last June: “You are your safest sex partner.”) It wasn’t just the singles who needed a sensory escape. The low-hanging fog of anxiety and sameness had a way of disconnecting brain from body, underscoring the need for some kind of return—if not to society, then at least to sex. People found their way to Maude in droves, as did Dakota Johnson, who signed on as co-creative director in November. The business “grew 50%, quarter over quarter, last year,” Goicochea told me, estimating that they sold out of the Vibe (now offered in deep green as well as gray) six times. At one point, she said, “we had 25,000 pre-orders for the vibrator while we were out of product.”

While the recent vibrator buzz is hardly unique to the brand—Goop’s double-sided wand sold out within hours of launch on Valentine’s Day, and the model Cara Delevingne recently joined sex-toy company Lora DiCarlo as co-owner and creative adviser—Maude has staked out its own turf: unassuming, sophisticated, ahead of the curve. Against this landscape comes the new Drop. Goicochea, a close observer of an already crowded market (including a spate of copycat brands, some as far-flung as India and Australia), had no interest in putting out needless variations of Maude’s original Vibe. “We really believe in how we created it and its shape and its usage,” she said of the elongated design, built for focused stimulation. (It’s also accessibly priced, at $45.) Instead, Goicochea’s team considered the varied feedback received over the years—even from, say, nursing mothers who discovered that the vibration helped ease breast pain.

“We just started to think more about this idea of what we began calling ‘sharecare’—the idea of a vibrator being used for other parts of your body and erogenous zones,” said Goicochea. “That’s where Drop came into play.” She rewound back in vibrator history, acknowledging that the iconic Hitachi wand was first billed as a body massager. This past year, as handheld Theraguns spiked in popularity amid pandemic-induced backaches, that role of machine-assisted relief made a return. By giving the Drop its universal egg shape (Goicochea, in my Google Meet screen, held up a collection of 3D-printed “Brancusis,” as she jokingly called the in-house prototypes), it feels less site-specific. Yes, one can use it in the usual vibrator ways. But this version, imparting an even, all-over buzz, might also be welcome along the back of the neck, the perineum, however you like, she added.

There are technical niceties, too: A tiny light now pulses as the Drop is charging, switching to solid to indicate that it’s ready. There’s also a travel lock, as people start hitting the road. That part of Johnson’s praise for the Drop (“…discrete and legit. TSA won’t even bat an eyelash”) is what strikes me as optimistic, painting a future of sleepovers and weekend flings and honeymoons after all those Zoom weddings. Encouraging words, as is Johnson’s seal of approval: “absolutely epic.”

Maude Clean No. 0 Sanitizing Spray

Designed as a rinse-free spritz for hands as well as the Vibe, this 70%-alcohol formula is boosted with glycerin and coconut oil. 

Maude Vibe in Green

With three speeds and USB charging, this vibrator joins the original gray version. 

Maude Shine Organic Lubricant

This aloe-based, pH-balanced formula lends slip without stickiness and is safe to use with condoms. (A silicone-based version is also available.)

Maude Oil No. 0 Body and Massage Oil

A certified-organic blend of jojoba, coconut, castor, and argan oils, this fragrance-free formula sinks into skin for extra nourishment.

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