Riding alongside the revolution in men’s apparel over the last few years has been the advancement of intelligently designed clothing aimed at the growing number of cycle commuters.
We’re not talking lycra here, not even close. This is clothing that breathes, wicks, flexes and endures hours of physical activity in the saddle. This is clothing that won’t leave you looking a disheveled mess upon arriving at the office. This is clothing that transitions seamlessly from bike to boardroom, performing for the former, styled for the latter. This, quite frankly, is sartorial science.
Big brands such as Levi’s have been establishing themselves in this space with their Commuter line and cycling juggernauts Rapha and Vulpine have also been pumping out urban focused ranges. However, exciting progress is also being made by smaller start-up brands such as Boston based Ministry of Supply.
Founded by graduates from the world-renowned MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), the team at Ministry of Supply approaches everyday clothing the way NASA does space travel. Browse their website and you’ll be confounded by unusual materials and sophisticated manufacturing techniques such as “Phase-Change Material; Photogrammetric Strain Analysis; Seamless Variable Knit; Laser Cut Ventilation and Thermolamination.”
To make more sense of things and to see the clothes in action, a Dapper Chapper recently popped into their San Francisco pop-up store. There we chatted to Store Manager Steve, a terrific ambassador and loyal advocate of MoS, who walked us through the collection and set us up with the Apollo Dress Shirt and Aviator Chinos.
Style wise, Ministry of Supply have nailed the look. Both the shirt and trousers have a smart cut and feel well put together with a comfortable fit in all the right places. The material doesn’t feel ‘natural’ at first wearing, but you quickly get used to it and it’s that way because of all the performance properties we’ll come to in a second.
Both shirt and chinos have a good amount of stretch to them, which you notice particularly when out riding as the clothing doesn’t restrict in the key areas of articulation such as the shoulders and knees.
Now let’s get to the smart stuff. The Apollo Dress Shirt incorporates Phase Change Material (PCM), the same tech used to regulate astronauts’ body temperature in space suits. PCM absorbs heat away from your skin when you’re overheated, then releases it when you’re cold, helping regulate your body temperature whatever activity you’re doing. The PCM infused polyester material also pulls moisture from your body, helping to keep you dry.
MoS also used Photogrammetric Strain Analysis to map how muscles, joints, and skin all bend and stretch as the body moves. By incorporating 4 way stretch into these key areas, the shirt enables a full range of unhindered manoeuvrability. This is great if you’re a cycle commuter and we were really aware of this flexibility on our test rides.
As a last technological flourish, they applied thermolamination technology to the collars and cuffs to keep them looking crisp and structured with no collar stays or ironing required. For those who don’t keep an iron in their desk at work, this will be great news.
Meanwhile, the Aviator Chinos work equally hard to keep your lower half dry and flexible. The breathable nylon/elastane blend is coated in a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish to keep the rain at bay with 4 way stretch to keep your legs moving freely.
Two really smart touches are the urethane waist band which helps keep your shirt tucked in and the side lock button to prevent your fly coming undone mid-ride.
Combine all that tech into your everyday shirt and trouser combo and if James Bond ever bought off Savile Row, we reckon he’d probably give Ministry of Supply a go for his next mission.
The Apollo Dress Shirt is available in five colours and the Aviator Chinos in seven. Both garments are also available in two cuts – Slim or Standard. MoS also offer free international shipping on orders over $250. www.ministryofsupply.com