Nine Apparel Startups to Solve the Real Style Problems of 2016.
I would loosely estimate that at the moment there are roughly 1 trillion fashion startup ideas trying to Kickstart their way into our lives and closets. Like Padkix’s “period of happiness” underwear (you can guess its purpose), or The Ultimate American Sock—which is softer than cashmere and warmer than wool—and made entirely out of … bison.
But just because there’s an idea overload, and many of those ideas are dubious, it doesn’t mean that some of the new companies out there aren’t trying to solve the real problems you’ll face in the new year. So, I’ve sifted through some of the noteworthy new(ish) startups and compiled a list of the ones that seem to have gotten it right, organized by the common fashion issue they’re hoping to address.
One of these just might be your next sartorial savior.
The Issue: Having to Dry-Clean Your Suits Is Annoying
The Solution: Brunswick Park blazer
Good news for those who labor to shop around the dreaded “dry-clean only” label. This Boston-based apparel company—the brainchild of a duo of disgruntled tech-industry entrepreneurs—was just greenlighted after a successful crowdfunding campaign onKickstarter to produce a truly stylish machine-washable blazer. Available for pre-order now for both him and her, the blazers are made of a unique blend of bonded soft and stretchy merino wool with polyester spacers that is resilient enough to withstand the tough cycle of machine washing. Right now they are available in charcoal, light gray, and navy—but the young brand hopes to expand to more ambitious colors like military green and oxblood for future collections. ($299, brunswickpark.co)
The Issue: Maternity Wear Is a Waste of Money
The Solution: Le Tote subscription
The best part about pregnancy (other than the creation of your offspring) is that it’s temporary. Which means a woman need not invest considerably in a supplemental wardrobe she will only need for 40-ish weeks. Enter Le Tote, a subscription-based service that now helps mothers-to-be spend less on their temporary maternity wear by renting it to them (with the option to buy what they truly love) through the various stages of their pregnancies. Some of the maternity brands it stocks include: 9Fashion,Japanese Weekend, and Summer & Sage. ($59 a month, letote.com)
The Issue: Black Dress Pants Are Stiff and Suffocating
The Solution: Betabrand Dress Pant Yoga Pants
Behold the most controversial topic in all of womenswear: Should yoga pants be worn as actual pants? Tim Gunn says no. I’m Switzerland on the subject; lifestyle permitting, I think it can be a completely acceptable means of dressing oneself—but I reserve the right of judgment when I see you in person. That said, if you’re a working professional seeking the comfort of your namaste gear, this might be the perfect pant for you. It looks like your classic tried-and-true 9-to-5 black trouser—and comes in four styles like straight-leg and leggings—but has the performance (and comfort) capabilities of something you’d wear in the mat-room only. ($78, betabrand.com)
The Issue: Belts Are Never Exactly the Right Size
The Solution: MagBelt by Magzook
At first mention you’d think the MagBelt—essentially a strip of nylon that holds up your pants with the help of heavy-duty magnets—sounds like something you’d see being shilled on a late-night infomercial. But think about it: no holes, no flapping extra fabric or overhang—just a perfectly fitting belt that adjusts to the ups and downs of your waistline. Plus, it’s not bad-looking (in a casual-occasion-only kind of way) and it sounds kinda futuristic. Tip: Avoid the ’Merica-themed buckles and the (I can’t believe I have to tell you this) bottle-opener ones, and stick with the standard buckle only. THAT IS NOT A SUGGESTION. ($44, magzook.com)
The Issue: Ugh, Cargo Pants
The Solution: Ya Joe Mech pant
Marketed as a brand of “cool clothes for tech guys,” Seattle e-commerce startup Ya Joe is doing at least one thing right: pants. The line of functional (read: pockets for gadgets ’n’ crap) basics is intended to help people who don’t care about fashion. It includes everything from a mock turtleneck to a woven vest, but the slimmed-up Mech cargo pant is the collection standout. It comes in a universally flattering slim-straight fit with a nearly hidden outer-thigh cargo pocket perfect for the tech guy’s constant work companion: his ID badge. ($86, yajoe.com)
The Issue: Gadget-Friendly Outerwear Is Unwearable
The Solution: Baubax travel jacket
When I heard that a brand on Kickstarter had reached 450 times its original goal of $20,000, I thought, what could possibly be so exciting? A 15-in-1 jacket that is equal parts functional outerwear and carry-on bag, in a subtle-yet-cool geek chic package, that’s what. The makers of this jacket—which comes in four models from a hooded sweatshirt to my favorite, the bomber—have thought of it all. Need a neck pillow? Check. Eye mask? Got it. A kookie drink pocket? Uh huh. You have to check it out to understand. ($149-$189, baubax.com)
The Issue: Fitness Trackers Are Ugly
The Solution: Caeden Sona Connected Bracelet
As wearable tech continues to rise in popularity, the need for it to be better and better-looking remains a challenge. At Caeden, the one-year-old tech startup, they wouldn’t consider one without the other—which is why it just debuted the Sona, a fitness tracker/bracelet hybrid it hopes people will want to wear purely as an accessory, too. The screenless, fashion-forward smart bracelet connects to the Caeden App and tracks your day-to-day well-being like heart rate, activity, and stress levels and includes a breathing program to help you relax or stay focused, whichever is needed. ($199,caeden.com)
The Issue: Synthetic Fabrics Are Uncomfortable
The Solution: Voormi Core Construction
No need to just dream of a pliable, waterproof wool sweater or jacket—because it’s finally here. In what has been called the biggest advancement in the performance apparel category since the invention of Gore-Tex in 1969, the Colorado-based outerwear brand Voormi has introduced its new Core Construction technology. In a nutshell: The company has figured out a way to insert a weatherproofing membrane directly into the fabric as it’s being knit—so that essentially the layer you see and feel against your skin is one single layer of fabric—resulting in less bulk and more comfort. Eat your heart out, Patagonia and friends. ($399, voormi.com)
The Issue: Finding a Good Tailor Is Hard
The Solution: zTailors on-demand tailoring service
After I tell guys that fit is the No. 1 way to improve their wardrobe, I am usually asked the same follow-up question: How can I find a good tailor? To which I can now say: Guys, get yourself on zTailors—it’s an online (there’s also an app) network of tailors-on-demand (think: the Uber of tailoring) brought to you by George Zimmer, the founder of Men’s Wearhouse. You can now summon a tailor at any time, at any price for in-house or at-office alterations—so no more excusing that oversized tailoring. (Pricing varies,ztailors.com)