That melting process absorbs energy a lot faster than it would normally be transferred to the outside environment and creates a "sensation of cool" that is heat being pulled away from the body by the material, he said. The excess energy from that heat is then stored in the beads. The end result of this design, according to Cass, has created "basically the best dress shirt I ever owned," he told us. "I probably wear it three days a week."
Cass, who is a software engineer for a financial software company in New York, was a classmate of Amarasiriwardena and Rustagi at MIT. He said he bought one of the shirts on a lark because he thought it was a "really cool" idea. Now he's a convert, and has already ordered three more through Ministry of Supply's Kickstarter campaign, which has raised nearly $430,000 to continue the production of the shirts. Kickstarter is an online platform for the design community where people can pitch their product designs and sell them to raise money for a new business.
"It doesn't wrinkle, it doesn't stain, it doesn't smell," Cass said of the Apollo shirt. "If you are going on a business trip for two weeks you could throw this one shirt in your suitcase with different pairs of pants and different ties and wear it for two weeks straight." Unlike traditional dress shirts, which can tighten across the shoulders when a person moves, Apollo's material -- which only upon close inspection looks different than any other men's collared dress shirt -- is more forgiving and flexible, Cass said. "When you move in it, it conforms to your body," he said. "It's a good feeling. It really kind of moves with you."
Customers like Cass have been key to the iterative design process of Apollo and will continue to be crucial to the development of new products as the company expands, Amarasiriwardena said. "Every time we launch a new product, we go through three or four batches of 50 to 100 shirts," he said. "The key thing is the customers we know will give us feedback. With that we're able to improve the next batch."
With the support from the Kickstarter campaign, Ministry of Supply will continue building out its line of shirts and eventually wants to come out with a complete line of menswear, Amarasiriwardena said. "We're really trying to replace the whole men's wardrobe with these high-performance garments," he said.
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