- May 17, 2019
- May 16, 2019
Whoever arrives at number 299 of Newburry Street in Boston goes in search of a different type of clothing. This address is the main (and first) of the Ministry of Supply store, a startup that was born in the laboratories of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and uses high-technology materials in the manufacture of clothes. By applying materials previously used only by NASA in astronaut costumes, Ministry of Supply shirts are able to regulate body temperature according to the environment. On a hot day, the polymers let the heat escape, refreshing the body; on cold days, retain the heat, heating the server.
The startup was born from lab tests by engineering students at MIT. The aim of the experiment was to assess the feasibility of adding high technology to the manufacture of fabrics. Two of the three founders were athletes and they wanted to bring new concepts and materials for clothes of everyday life, just as the industry was already with costumes for high performance athletes. The results could not be better and the creation of a brand was the next step. The inspiration for the name came from the spy film 007, in which the Ministry of Supply (or Ministry of Supply, in English) was quoted in reference to weapons used a lot of technology.
The use of new materials in the fashion industry is not something new. What is striking is the increasing speed of innovation in the industry in recent times. For decades, little progress has been made in these companies. The changes have always been more related to design and style and less to technology. But the digital age does not forgive anyone who is oblivious to the transformation. In China, clothing with electronic boards that warm coats and gloves are already seen in popular markets. So-called smart clothes will add more functions than simply controlling the temperature.
One of the founders of the Ministry of Supply ran a marathon dressed in a branded suit, to show that it was as comfortable as a running suit. And what seems to characterize this new era is the reconciliation of aesthetics with technology. The Ministry of Supply itself recently hired a stylist who has in his curriculum world-famous brands, precisely because he admits that there is no way out of this visual predicament. After all, the audience that will prioritize functionality over styling is not yet that big. Maybe one day is, since the behavior of the consumer undergoes very large transformations. And if there is something especially hard to predict is the impact of an innovation (or a series of them) on people's behavior. Innovation itself is relatively less difficult to anticipate. But the reaction of the human being to its dissemination in the market still deceives us with relative frequency.