Entrepreneur Aman Advani helped start a clothing revolution for women and men when he and his colleagues founded Ministry of Supply from the campus of MIT. Read on for an interview with Aman to review Ministry of Supply’s value proposition and to discover his advice to someone who has never bought performance professional clothing before.
Photo credit: Photos courtesy of Ministry of Supply except where noted.
About Ministry of Supply
Ministry of Supply is an excellent destination for comfortable business casual clothing outfits for men made from technical fabrics.
As a consultant with Deloitte and then Technoserve, Aman (pictured in the photo above on the right, along with co-founder Gihan Amarasiriwardena) was a road warrior and became frustrated with the clothing he wore.
While pursuing his MBA at MIT in 2011 and 2012, he met fellow student Gihan Amarasiriwardena. They and other co-founders hatched a business plan to re-engineer business clothing using performance fabrics.
Ministry of Supply launched in 2012, initially developing small batch, sweat-proof shirts. The founders launched a wildly-successful Kickstarter campaign in July 2012 that ultimately grossed almost $430,000 and set a record for money raised on Kickstarter in the fashion category.
Technical fabrics had already gained widespread popularity via the athleisure movement growing up around casual clothing and workout attire.
Since 2012, Ministry of Supply has been a leader in bringing that mentality that your clothes should be comfortable and crisp all day — as well as those engineered technical fabrics — to professional and business casual attire.
Today, Ministry of Supply sells a wide range of performance professional clothing for men and women, from engineered tanks and t-shirts to suit separates, pants, dresses, and outerwear. The company is a terrific alternative to lululemon for technical clothing for women and men.
Ministry of Supply has also responded to the COVID-19 crisis by producing 3D-printed washable face masks. See why Ministry of Supply’s face masks are among my favorites.
The company utilizes several primary fabric technologies in its clothing:
- Apollo collection of shirts are 19x more breathable than cotton and made from the same 57% Polyester, 43% PCM-infused Polyester blend that NASA invented to control body temperature in space;
- Aero Zero line of carbon neutral shirts constructed with 100% recycled polyester materials;
- Velocity collection of suit separates for men and women, made from a wool-like blend of 61% Polyester, 33% Rayon, 6% Elastane; and
- Kinetic line of suit separates for women and men, made from moisture-wicking, breathable, Primeflex® Warp-knit Japanese Polyester.
Ministry of Supply:
- offers free returns and hassle-free exchanges within 100 days for an exchange or refund,
- boasts a lifetime guarantee for all products, and
- is carbon neutral.
Keep reading below for my interview with Ministry of Supply Co-Founder and CEO Aman Advani.
Ministry of Supply Coupon
Get a $15 discount off your first Ministry of Supply purchase.
Interview with Ministry of Supply Co-Founder and CEO Aman Advani
Aman was kind to answer a number of questions that I had about Ministry of Supply, including providing a recommendation for where to start for someone who has never tried the brand before, the value of performance fabric clothing for the office, and what’s next for his innovative company.
The value proposition for technical fabrics and performance professional clothing
I asked Aman what he would say to someone who has never tried performance fabric professional wear before:
“Professionals today need clothing that can transition from the commute to the boardroom to drinks after work, and keep up with the 12 hour day – rather than the 9-to-5.
“And with the rise of athleisure, people today have grown accustomed to performance clothing in the gym or on the trail, but don’t usually find the same functionality in their clothing on their commute, at their desks or during big meetings.
“That’s where Ministry of Supply comes in: we’re using the latest in tech and science to create versatile, high-performing and sustainable clothing. So, to someone who’s never tried high-performing clothing before — we’d tell you once you try it, you won’t go back!”
Aman recommends: Your first Ministry of Supply purchase
Today, there are a ton of direct-to-consumer companies competing to deliver performance professional clothing for men and women made from technical fabrics, and an even broader set of innovative, entrepreneurial fashion brands vying for consumers’ money and attention.
I asked Aman what he would recommend to someone who has never purchased from Ministry of Supply before.
Aman told me that,
“Our signature Apollo dress shirt is the place to start. Made with NASA phase change materials, the breathable, wrinkle-resistant shirt is 19 times more breathable than traditional cotton and regulates your core temperature in real-time.”
The Apollo dress shirt’s versatility and comfort makes a great Zoom shirt to throw on for video conferences.
Ministry of Supply is 3-D printing (some of) its clothing
Ministry of Supply has been in the press for 3D printing some of its clothing. (Check out Ministry of Supply’s 3D print-knit collection.)
I asked Aman about the company’s production strategy going forward and the potential role of 3D printing going forward.
“A few years ago, we were seeking a way to create high-performing clothing more sustainably and also wanted to be able to rapidly iterate on our ideas. So we turned to 3D-knitting.
“3D-knitted items are designed digitally and knit to the exact specifications. Essentially, using this “3D robotic knitting” technology, we pre-program the design into CAD software and watch as the garment is produced in one, continuous piece.
“Compared to traditional cut-and-sew production, 3D knitted garments have about 30% less fabric waste and fit and feel better because they don’t have seams. What’s more, when we piloted in-store manufacturing, we were able to make personalized garments on-demand—we held no inventory, and thus had no excess waste.
“We are always looking to implement manufacturing techniques that are better for the planet, and enable us to rapidly improve and create high performing clothing—3D Print-Knit will definitely continue to play a role in that in the coming years.”
How Ministry of Supply gets in front of customers and cuts through the digital noise
Companies are finding innovative ways to get in front of customers and confront information overload:
- Bonobos is opening guideshops;
- travel company Away sends snail mail via USPS;
- women’s style startup M. M. Lafleur is launching pop-ups; and
- one of my favorite custom tailors Black Lapel has a history of collaborating with other brands.
How does Ministry of Supply meet customers and cut through all of the digital noise?
“Experiential retail, partnership, and flashy campaigns can be fun and impactful in the short-term — but we try to focus the majority of our time and resources on nurturing authentic connections with our core consumer community.
“For example, we see our retail locations not just as sales channels, but as relationship and education hubs. We dedicate a large amount of time and capital in the training of our sales staff — our products are technical, and we want our consumers to understand the breadth of what each garment has to offer.
“And the learning is mutual. Our retail locations are an amazing place for us to have 1:1 conversations with our consumers and gather impactful, real-time feedback in person. These insights are a crucial part of our design process and help us constantly improve and iterate on our products.”
Growing Ministry of Supply into the future
I asked Aman what is at the top of his mind as he takes Ministry of Supply into the future.
“Making better, more sustainable garments is at the forefront of our business.
“Sustainability has always been a key element of our brand, such as with our waste-reducing 3DPK process and commitment durable, long-lasting garments, and we’re doubling down on it this year.
“We believe that with smarter manufacturing and design, apparel production can be more sustainable and result in better products, without a higher cost.”
Ministry of Supply’s physical stores
Ministry of Supply has a store in Washington, DC, as well as in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Santa Monica.
I asked Aman about what led the company to open in DC.
“Our DC metro area store is located at 3112 M Street NW in the heart of Georgetown. We’re thrilled to bring Ministry of Supply to a thriving metropolitan area.
“DC professionals fit squarely into our target demographic: busy, ambitious, and on-the-go. We’re excited to create versatile, sharp and comfortable clothing to get them through the day.
“We tested a few locations to make sure we were in the right neighborhood, and found a permanent home in Georgetown!”
Other innovative brands
I always enjoy asking this question: “What other interesting menswear startups or innovative brands do you admire?”
“Patagonia — a performance industry mainstay — has a really holistic approach to creating eco-friendly clothing that we take a lot of inspiration from.
“The company, which has been innovating in material science for years, thinks through everything from construction, how the consumer washes and wears the piece and the physical attributes of the fabrics to create sustainable garments.”
About JakeJake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.
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