Ministry of Supply Puts MIT Engineering Cred Into Dress Shirts

6/8/12Follow @xconomy

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panel in the middle of the back that can better stretch with men’s movements, and fibers in the sleeves and collar that bond to bacteria and prevent the shirt from getting dirty (certain features are only available in certain shirt colors at this point). “Little secrets like that,” Rustagi says, also noting the fabric’s synthetic blend gives it “ancillary benefits” like being stain resistant and environmentally friendly because it doesn’t rely on formaldehyde for its anti-wrinkle properties.

There’s a reason businessmen don’t wear Under Armour-esque shirts to work, so to get the product up to par on the design front, the startup is using manufacturers in New York who have done work with the likes of Ralph Lauren and Express. It has also brought on DKNY founding president Denise Seegal as an advisor for some more retail-savvy feedback.

And for those who want shirts that are sweat-free, wrinkle-free, odor-free, and have astronaut-grade thermo regulation, there’s the Apollo fabric, the product Ministry of Supply is specifically pushing through the Kickstarter campaign it just introduced today.

“It’s scientifically shown that [the coating] can help alleviate changes in your skin temperature by as much as one to two degrees,” Rustagi says.

Meaning, the shirt itself can hold heat while you’re outside in the sun, and store it for when you enter a cool, air-conditioned building. Rather than immediately shivering, your body can pull heat stored in the shirt to slowly adjust to the right temperature. The material has been used before in athletic apparel but certainly not business wear, Rustagi says.

Ministry of Supply is looking to bring in $30,000 with the Kickstarter campaign, and introduce the Apollo shirts next month. Supporters can donate $95 to get a shirt (if the project is fully funded), which is a discount from the roughly $130 the shirt will retail at.

In case you haven’t heard of it before, Kickstarter is a website that allows people to fund essentially pet projects through a slew of individual donations. The projects have a fundraising goal and a deadline, and if the full funding amount doesn’t come in, none of the backers are charged. Boston-based Blank Label, which has sold custom-fitting men’s dress shirts, has looked to Kickstarter to fund a move into the women’s clothing market. Its campaign launched May 30 and has pulled in about $12,000 of a targeted $50,000, with 20 days to go.

Kickstarter could potentially solve an interesting problem for companies like Ministry of Supply and Blank Label, which need much more startup capital than say Web or mobile apps. Since producing physical products requires more upfront cash, these kinds of startups can come off as riskier investments for venture capitalists.

“In terms of fundraising, there’s a really interesting gap with product companies,” says Advani. “There’s this idea of demand and risk in a business context. People want to know there’s a … Next Page »

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