A good wool shirt is awesome, but would you wear one for 100 days straight without washing it? Wool & Prince claims that you can do exactly that with its buttondown shirts, which it handed out to 15 “wear testers” who wore them while engaging in such activities as backpacking in the Andes and dancing in "Tropical" NYC clubs. According to the makers, the shirts not only proved durable, but still looked – and smelled – fresh after over three months of straight wear.
The premise behind the Wool & Prince shirt is that it’s the buttondown equivalent to a pair of denim jeans. Jeans look good (if not worn by a middle-aged journalist), are durable, comfortable, and don’t need to be washed too often. Shirts, on the other hand, need to be washed after almost every wearing. The thinking was, why not make a buttondown shirt that worked like a pair of jeans?
Unfortunately, what works for jeans doesn't for shirts. Denim jeans are made out of cotton, which is fine for trousers, but cotton shirts, however comfy they might be, tend to wear out quickly and don’t wick away perspiration very well, so they can get clammy and smelly pretty fast. Synthetic fibers or blends can help a bit with things like durability and wrinkles, but their smooth fiber surfaces are very good breeding areas for the bacteria that turn sweat into pong.
According to Wool & Prince, the clever bit isn't some new scientific breakthrough in textiles. Instead, it’s a matter of using the highest quality Australian wool to make their proprietary “Cotton-Soft” wool fabric. Since this is a very fine Merino wool, it isn't like the coarse, scratchy stuff used in jumpers. This fine wool allows the fibers to exploit a lot of material’s natural qualities. Wool is six times more durable than cotton, wrinkle resistant and wicks the sweat away, so skin bacteria don’t have a chance to get going. The proteins are naturally antibacterial and the waxy coating of the fibers discourages staining.
Wool & Prince claims that its shirts work so well that they don’t need any attention beyond airing and the very occasional dry cleaning, though we remain skeptical about how well they stand up to the salts, oils and body musk that humans also tend to exude.
Wool & Prince is currently trying to raise money on Kickstarter through May 22 to begin production of the shirts. Kickstarter prices for the shirt range from US$98 for one to US$280 for three.