Sweaty pits stay cool with high tech dress shirt

The "Agent" shirt costs about $100, but designers say its worth the price because it keeps you cool, dry, and stink-free.
COURTNEY SACCO/METRO

Word is spreading about a new men’s dress shirt that makes hiking or biking to work a breeze – literally.

A Kickstarter campaign for the Ministry of Supply’s heat managed “Apollo” shirt comes to a close Wednesday with a record-breaking response from backers, so Metro thought it a perfect time to put the high tech shirt to the test.

“Does it make me feel cool? Stylewise or temperature-wise? Yes, both,” said Metro Music Editor Pat Healy after a 10-minute bike ride around Boston’s Innovation District today.

All in all, the $100 “Agent” shirt he wore passed the test.

Healy, who occasionally uses Hubway to travel to work, admits to getting occasional pit stains after a vigorous bike ride, but alas, today there were none.

“I went like this (rubs arm pit) at one point, and I didn’t feel anything. It does feel cooler, to tell you the truth,” Healy said.

Ministry of Supply co-founder Kevin Rustagi, who lent the shirt, and his bike for the test, said his company’s shirts are the future of business attire.

“I remember biking to work. I’d walk in, and I’d literally have sweat dripping down my back; super gross. With these shirts, within 15 minutes, it’s just gone,” said 23-year-old Rustagi.

The synthetic knit of the shirt allows capillary action to pull the moisture into the fabric, and makes for easy evaporation, according to Rustagi, who is one of four MIT-educated co-founders of the company.

Co-founder Kit Hickey said the high amount of money pledged by backers on Kickstarter – which as of 6:35 p.m. today was $367,001 – shows that people are keen on the idea.

“A lot of people who have heard about the shirts have gotten so excited, and said, ‘finally.’ I think once we put it in front of people, they will be very receptive to it. I think people really understand it.” Hickey said.

The group reached their $30,000 Kickstarter target just five days after launching their campaign last month.

The company has gotten orders from around the world, Rustagi said, with one customer in Australia buying $2,000 worth of shirts to revamp his wardrobe.

Plans are in the works for a shirt line for women, but in the meantime some women have ordered the shirts and had them tailored to their frames.

For many, the steep price might be tough for buyers, with the Apollo shirt costing up to $130.

Hickey said she believes customers will find the benefits are worth the higher price tag.

“I think many people will realize it has more value than a regular dress shirt,” she said.

Brianne Barrett mentors the team through the MassChallenge accelerator program said the shirt offers a solution that addresses the long-time issues many people have with their standard dress shirts.

“They’re taking something that’s been forgotten and making it better through design and technology,” Barrett said. “It’s exciting to think about the future, and picture all of the ways the garments could be used in everyday life.”

Shirts are available at the company’s showroom at 105 South St., or on the company’s ecommerce site at ministryofsupply.com once the Kickstarter campaign ends Wednesday.



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