Many would suggest the notion of wearing the same T-shirt for more than a couple of days is within the purview of laundry-shy students or obsessive gamers. Thanks to a serendipitous spilt drink and some lost luggage, however, one company has developed the first top deliberately designed to be worn for 10 days straight.
"My luggage got rerouted and so delayed during my travels. I also had a tiny mishap on the flight, landed at my destination with only the clothes on my back and for more than 10 hours, I had to walk around with a stained shirt in tropic Hawaiian heat," says Raymond Chng, brand director of Cori, the Singaporean travel products firm about to launch the garment entitled SuperTee. Cue classic light bulb moment for the hapless businessman. "All I could think was how it would have been perfect if there was a shirt designed to withstand all possible travel inconveniences, for at least a few days," adds Chng.
Sun protection among other features
Accordingly, the team at Cori began exploring the idea with researchers and scientists, seeking fabric that could be worn more and washed less. This so-dubbed "next generation of T-shirt" further had to be responsibly produced, anti-odour, antibacterial, stain-repellent, cooling, wrinkle-resistant, moisture-wicking, skin-sensitive, stretchy without distorting and anti-static. Crucially for residents of hot countries such as the UAE, it also had to provide sun protection of UPF50+ – Ultraviolet Protection Factor being the fabric equivalent of a sunscreen's SPF. Most fabrics only offer up to UPF7 protection.
Not surprisingly, it took Chng nearly two years to source the right materials and technology. These include super-durable Pima cotton for its hypoallergenic qualities and softness; sustainably sourced marine collagen infused with peptide fibres for healthy, hydrated skin; as well as MicroModal, which is responsible for breathable comfort.
These have been combined to create Cori's proprietary blend of ethically sourced fabric, trademarked Corium, which has been independently tested by third-party laboratories. The team also partnered with celebrated Danish industrial designer Timothy Jacob Jensen for their T-shirt collection, and worked with Oeko-Tex-certified partners who are Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (for fair working factories) and BlueSign (reduced environmental impact)-approved.
Cori defines itself as a company of designers, explorers and discoverers aiming to create “the best travel products”, while bringing fun and function back to travel accessories and the “happiest, stress-free travel experiences”. It previously received plaudits for creating a, customisable travel pillow. As with that, Cori bankrolled SuperTee’s development via crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, with contributors receiving discounted finished products.
The campaign closes on Thursday, February 6, and at the time of writing had about 1,700 backers. For $53 Singaporean dollars (Dh143) – plus S$6 shipping to anywhere in the world – supporters will receive a discounted short-sleeve T-shirt (the long-sleeve version is S$14 more), in one of four colours. Investors can also pledge up to S$252 to receive six garments, shipped for free.
“Kickstarter is a unique community with an engaged audience particularly open to and supportive of new ideas and innovations,” Chng says. “We had a very good experience with our previous project, with backers not only supporting it financially, but also giving feedback and ideas on how to improve our product.”
Designed for those on the go
So does the world really need a SuperTee – and whom does Chng have in mind as its target customers, beyond folk favouring frugal wardrobes over washing machines? “Originally, we had travellers in mind, but soon realised the design fits just about anyone who has ever owned a T-shirt,” he says. “There are already different types of functional performance T-shirts out there, but what if we could bring the best of everything together into one?”
Such a top could also earn brownie points with eco-warriors. With the fashion industry cited as a prime climate offender, Chng says the positive effect of SuperTee requiring less laundering was major motivation. “There’s growing awareness of the environmental impact of fast fashion, from unsustainable production processes to the proliferation of microplastics through washing.
“SuperTee is our way of making an impact on the life cycle of the humble T-shirt by working only with sustainable sources, prolonging the lifespan of the garment, and using natural materials to prevent microplastic pollution. And the thought of doing less laundry always helps.”
Like most things, often the proof is in the pudding – or the putting on, in this case. The Cori crew put SuperTee to the test, presumably by encouraging clumsy and sweaty people to don one. “If you are referring to us, then yes,” admits Chng. “And I have worn the shirt without washing for a full 15 days.
“We wanted to ensure that SuperTee is able to replicate the comfort and feel of your favourite T-shirt, the one you’ll always pick from your wardrobe and wear over and over again. It passed the tropical climate test in Singapore and so we are confident it will perform well in the UAE.”
While customers will ultimately dictate demand, Chng is open to broader applications for SuperTee’s technology, in sports and even space exploration. “Active wear, or ‘athleisure’, is one area we’re looking at – we have companies who have approached us for a potential partnership. As for space missions … I’ll be the first to volunteer to test out our T-shirt in space myself.”
For now, though, the garment can be picked up via Cori's Kickstarter campaign link on www.kickstarter.com, for worldwide delivery in May.