So you're looking dapper in your snappy business suit as you head out into the afternoon sun to walk a few blocks to your next meeting, but by the time you arrive you're a good deal less fresh than when you set off just moments before. Your expensive new super white cotton shirt is stuck to your back and something nasty is taking to the air around you. This is precisely the kind of scenario that the Apollo shirt from Ministry of Supply was designed to combat. The wrinkle-free dress shirt makes use of NASA technology to help regulate body temperature, while also neutralizing pit-pong and adapting to the movement of the wearer.
The company began when MIT student Gihan Amarasiriwardena was asked to design a better dress shirt by a friend in the latter half of 2010. He then joined forces with Kevin Rustagi to launch a limited line of shirts and undershirts. MBA students Aman Advani and Kit Hickey were subsequently brought onboard to upscale operations, and now the company is embarking on a new venture with the development of the Apollo dress shirt.
Central to the new shirt is a new knit synthetic blend which makes use of the same kind of phase change material technology that NASA uses for the regulation of body temperature in its space suits. According to Ministry of Supply, the blend pulls heat away from the body when it's hot outside and is able to feed that stored heat back to the body when the wearer moves to a cooler environment, such as an air-conditioned office. The unique blend is also claimed to have moisture wicking properties to help keep the wearer nice and dry.
Foul odors are kept at bay by an anti-microbial coating along with silver threads in the cuff and collar. Rustagi told us that the coating lasts for over 70 washes and the silver thread should be good indefinitely. He said that the company is committed to "developing better, more durable ways for our shirts to be anti-odor."
To create a better fitting, more responsive shirt, the designers looked to a technology known as strain analysis to map out exactly how the skin of a body moves so that the Apollo shirt can adapt to the thousands of movements made during a working day.
"The strain analysis - a fancy way of figuring out just how 'stretchy' something really is - is important as it informs the tri-panel design in the back of our shirts," explained Rustagi. "This makes them less likely to come untucked and provides more of a tailored fit for a wider variety of body sizes. This specifically has to do with how the shirt itself is able to flex (a single panel can't do this in the same way)."
Owners of an Apollo dress shirt can also leave the iron locked away in the cupboard. Intrinsic to the synthetic knit is its wrinkle-free nature, which is achieved without the use of harsh chemical coatings and doesn't wash out.
On the subject of washing, Ministry of Supply recommends that the shirt be machine washed only and that owners avoid dry cleaning altogether.
"We've seen anomalies every once in a while depending on what chemicals are used," said Rustagi. "In general, we advise against dry cleaning because its not good for the environment, using what's known as tetrachloroethene. In certain circumstances, it can affect the color-fastness of the shirt. We advise against it."
The Apollo dress shirt is currently undergoing crowd-funding on Kickstarter, where it's attracted more than eight times its funding target at the time of writing. The level of support has allowed the team to add a little pattern to the design, collar/sleeve length sizing for a more precise fit and make some new colors available.
Backers are being asked to pledge US$95 or more for the new shirt, making quite a saving on the estimated post-Kickstarter price of $129. The campaign is set to close on July 11.
Have a look at the Kickstarter pitch video for the Apollo dress shirt below.