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Fashion | PREMIUM CONTENT

Aman Advani On Changing Office Wear For Good

Jun/19/2022 / by PREETAM KAUSHIK

Often innovations are a result of dissatisfaction. Some people are perplexed by issues that others don’t give a second thought; they can’t believe no one else has come up with a better way to do things.

Aman Advani is one of those people. Born in the state of Georgia to immigrant parents, Aman started with a consulting job that required him to fly multiple times every week. He found the formal clothes he wore bafflingly restrictive and uncomfortable but there were no alternatives. To make things better, he literally sewed the soles of Nike socks into his dress socks.

When he joined MIT as a postgraduate student in 2012, he met Gihan Amarasiriwardena. Both engineers, they discovered that they shared a common passion: hacking their clothes. Turns out that while Advani was working on his frankensocks, Amarasiriwardena had been adding the backs of running shirts to his dress shirts. It was a match made in corporate heaven.

“That’s really where the idea was really born,” Advani said “From a deep desire to be comfortable in these wild, extreme travel environments, where you’re working 12-hour workdays and getting on two or three flights every week. Couldn’t our clothes be more comfortable and less demanding of us?”

Thus was Ministry of Supply born. Co-founded by Advani and Amarasiriwardena, with Kit Hickey, and Kevin Rustagi in Boston in 2012, the clothing brand aims to bring comfort and joy to customers even in that most inflexible of settings – the workplace. It relies on radically engineered, high-performance business wear that solves common problems, resulting in clothing that is well-ventilated, stretchable, does not need to be ironed or dry cleaned, and is also extremely moisture absorbing.

Tech for Fashion

Tech is embedded in the DNA of the brand. The name itself comes from the cover agency of Q – the famous gadget master from the James Bond series. Just like Q, the founders of Ministry of Supply want to provide cutting-edge solutions to the demands of the job.

The website provides a full sense of the technology they employ in their clothing. It lacks the usual vague messaging that mentions that the clothes are made from sustainable cotton, but lets customers dive deep into every aspect of the clothing’s creation – from the dye they use to the factories they outsource production to.

Their first product was the Apollo dress short, made from materials that adapt to the wearer’s environment and body temperature. It won them NASA’s Innovation Excellence Award.

Besides using technology to create comfortable clothing, they also used it to create inclusive clothing, such as their Kinetic Adaptiveº collection, which features clothes designed for people who use wheelchairs.

Creating a Buzz

In Advani’s words, their “color palette is quite muted.” He attributes this to the kind of household he grew up in. He said there wasn’t “a lot of wild colored dress patterns, ideas, [only a way to let] the person shine rather than the clothes.” Which is why Ministry of Supply clothes lack large logos or patterns;they fit in well at the workplace, but only those in the know realize their true potential.

Despite being muted, these clothes have faced no difficulty creating buzz. In 2016, Amarasiriwardena ran a half-marathon while wearing their just-launched Aviator II suit. The story got picked up by publications such as Fast Company and Esquire. It wasn’t just a PR stunt; it was also an extreme test of durability and comfort. It showed that their clothes look good enough to wear to work but had the breathability of sportswear.

The Pandemic Pivot

Initially, Advani realized that, to be convinced, customers needed to experience this marrying of tech and clothing. So the team started doing pop-ups and finally opened stores around the country. When the coronavirus hit, though, they had to rethink their technique.

“When the pandemic came along, our strategy had to change,” he said. “We had to get better at conveying [the touch and feel of the clothing]. Fortunately, while our strategy changed, our customers, rather than being skeptical of technology-driven, comfortable clothing, embraced it, because they had been wearing sweatpants for two years at home.”

In a world where workwear is literally a pair of pajamas, when going back to the office, brands like Ministry of Supply are ensuring we don’t give up the comfort of clothes designed to make our lives easier.

Seema

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