Over the last few months I’ve been on a bit of a performance wear kick. The reason is simple: I travel a lot. Michelle travels even more. The thing that most improves the travel experience (for me) is packing light. And the key to light packing is a set of clothes that gracefully handles all kinds of situations (more on that below) and still looks good, giving you peace of mind no matter what.
Getting this right is a bit of a holy grail – if done right it means that you need to pack a lot less – a pair or two of trousers max, no matter if you’re on the road for a couple of days or a month. A real life saver.
Luckily there is by now a selection of great, versatile fabrics that do fit that description: Light weight, non-wrinkle, quick-drying, breathable, wicking, comfortable. There’s also a very small, but growing group of companies that have started using those fabrics to produce clothes that look great.
Not so luckily, they’re almost all in the US which makes buying their stuff in Europe really hard and expensive; and almost none of them produce anything for women at all.
So on a whim M & I got ourselves a big roll of fabric from an outdoor company in Switzerland and worked with fantastic fashion designer (and friend) Cecilia Palmer (founder of sustainability/upcycling label Pamoyo) to create a pair of Prototype Pants for women. (A note to our British friends: We’re not talking about underwear. You might prefer to think of them as Test Trousers.)
Once we started the whole process, I got excited and a little jealous, so we also added a pair for men.
I’ve been beta-testing this first kinda-sorta-production ready pair of prototype pants for a few weeks now, and boy am I in love with them.
To give you an idea: They’re incredibly comfy to wear. They travel really well, meaning you can pull them out of your bag and wear them right away, no wrinkles or anything. They’ve got a little stretch, so if you cycle it’s really convenient. Also, for good measure they are water repellent, so if you get caught in the drizzle on the way, or if you spontaneously go on a day hike or so, no worries at all. Magic pants!
I’m especially happy that I got to test them under exactly the kind of circumstances and contexts we intended them for: Traveling, with some professional use and some action thrown in. And because testing behind closed doors and under controlled conditions is boring, I took them out for a spin in public. In fact, very much in public: Onstage while chairing Interaction16, a design conference with over 1000 people at lovely Finlandia Hall, Helsinki.
Now they’re prototypes, but it feels like one more iteration is all it takes before we can think about next steps. Frankly, I could keep wearing them 24/7. Another few weeks of testing and another iteration and we might just start making a larger batch. It’s super exciting to see this come together.