Science of Apparel uses scientific applications as a foundation for all of its products

Science of Apparel uses scientific applications as a foundation for all of its products

There is a growing trend that indicates the reimagining of the relationship between the customer and supplier – and also the way in which the suppliers and factories are valued, writes Emma Birnbaum. And she believes Science of Apparel sets a new standard for the future.

I believe the future of the apparel industry rests on the merging of new consumer-driven enterprises with the established supply and manufacturing network.

This does not mean that all new companies will automatically survive if they partner traditional suppliers; nor does it mean that sourcing experts, mills and factories will flourish by remaining as they are, isolated and functioning below the radar.

The system will have to change and everyone will need to learn and adapt.

Some fashion-tech retailers are beginning to recognise the benefit of working with an established supply chain, not because they want to keep cost down and produce larger quantities – but because vast knowledge and experience facilitate the product innovation that these new companies are built on.

  • Heist, a London based hosiery retailer, wanted to create the perfect pair of tights by reinventing the design; it tracked down a leading Italian tights manufacturer and built a long-term relationship based on collaboration and shared ideas.
  • Lanieri, an online bespoke suiting retailer, wanted to produce beautiful custom menswear for a fraction of the price; it partnered with a prestigious Italian mill in the hopes of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship that helps to raise the industry profile of both entities.

Both of these retailers recognised that understanding markets and consumers is not enough. To successfully create their ideal products and meet demand they must find a manufacturing partner capable of not only developing, making and delivering the product, but also of mirroring their values.

These are just two examples of a small but growing trend that indicates the reimagining of not only the relationship between the customer and supplier, but also the way in which the suppliers and factories are valued.

Disrupting role

At the moment there are only a handful of companies attempting to merge their value driven business models with the established system.

Yet so far, most of these retailers are working with small, usually, Italian facilities, that have a historic understanding of their craft and special in-house techniques.

However, this knowledge and limited access to technology is not enough if customers are looking to launch themselves into the world of sustainable and tech-driven apparel.

To play a major role in disrupting the industry beyond how consumers shop and what they have access to, retailers will have to be involved directly in scientific development. This will not only require a background in material science and knowledge of industry standards but strong ties to cutting-edge agriculture, mills and factories capable of agile collaboration.

Science of Apparel is the first – and thus far only – company I have seen, that uses scientific applications as a foundation for all of its products. This not only extends the product lifespan and decreases waste, but also expands the function of each item.

Science of Apparel

Science of Apparel was conceived to meet the needs of the wellness lifestyle by welding scientific discovery and development as a means of increasing garment performance, versatility, longevity and sustainability. However, its vision transcends product and becomes a company-wide value system defined by transparency, integrity and a holistic approach to environmental, social and personal wellness.

The company's products can be termed elevated basics or streetwear or a cross between athletic and fashion. Currently Science of Apparel produces tees, trousers and jumpers for both women, men and those who identify as non-binary.

You may consider the latter to be trivial or just some millennial affectation. Neither could be further from the truth. Science of Apparel has picked up on a nuanced cultural shift that extends way beyond gender awareness and differences, and recognises that its consumers identify as individual and unique and will pay for product made by companies who treat them as such. It also helps that their products are fantastic, high quality, well designed and super comfortable and flattering.

What makes Science of Apparel so intriguing is not just company culture and great products but the underlying infrastructure and operations that support its endeavour. The founders, Roberto Crivello and Aydin Karavelioglu, have held senior positions throughout the supply chain from design and product development to sourcing and manufacturing.

Crivello got his start in Italy, cutting his teeth at brand incubator The Genius Group, under denim icons including Adriano Goldschmied. In the mid 90s he moved to NYC where he launched his own brand, DDC Lab in 1997, which was eventually recognised as "the best indie store in New York."

Before launching Science of Apparel earlier this year Crivello specialised in developing and enhancing products with cutting-edge textile technology and held the position of global creative director for notable retailers, such as: New Balance, Puma, Gap, Levi's, Diesel, Tommy Hilfiger, Reebok and Kenzo. However, it was not until working for polymer and fibre specialist DuPont, that the nascent concept for Science of Apparel began to form. During his time at DuPont, Crivello was responsible for developing scientifically enhanced fibres to increase textile performance and redefine their applications. This knowledge eventually gave way to frustration towards an industry seemingly incapable or unwilling to implement available and inexpensive technology, which had the ability to improve, elevate and extend the longevity of products.

Karavelioglu reached the same conclusion, but from a different perspective. After acquiring a degree in mechanical engineering he set up a small factory in Istanbul, which he developed into a world class facility. Eventually his factory attracted high-profile customers such as DKNY, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. Karavelioglu went on to specialise in constructing vertical production facilities in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. His prolific knowledge and experience eventually gained him C-level titles at Associated Merchandising Corporation, and Eurasia Merchandising and Sourcing.

Both founders deliver distinct industry insight and an individual global perspective. Crivello's experience in the fashion-side-of-fashion, combined with Karavelioglu's in-depth knowledge of sourcing and manufacturing provide them with the necessary tools required to launch a new brand, design cutting-edge products and build a radically different type of supply chain.

Business partnership

This combination of nuanced differences forms the basis for unusual equality between brand and supply chain and presented the unusual opportunity to establish a business partnership between a mill and factory.

Both Sabri Unluturk, owner of the Turkish mill Ekoten, and Emre Kizilgunesle, owner of the Turkish factory Farbe, are both known within the industry as product and process innovators with a keen focus on developing eco-friendly techniques, such as using non-toxic dyes, limiting water consumption, streamlining manufacturing process and engineering specialty goods and materials related to aerospace, medical wear, activewear and workwear.

Everyone involved, be it the retailer, the mill or the factory, directly benefits from the success and growth of Science of Apparel. This partnership does away with the traditional culture of garmento paranoia and is vital to the company because each player is a shareholder and therefore a direct benefactor of the brand. The relationship also ensures that collective decisions are made rather than focusing on individual advancement.

The recognition that a successful outcome is mutually beneficial provides Science of Apparel with access to otherwise offlimit knowledge and tools such as streamlining production, developing cheaper methods to implement new processes, accessing in-house mill and factory innovations, and establishing an open environment that encourages sharing "tips and tricks" based on everyone's personal experience.

This dynamic will not only make sustainable fashion economically viable but, I believe, will lead to long-term financial success.

Hardcore knowledge

Science of Apparel proves that hardcore knowledge and experience in product development, sourcing and manufacturing is essential to the success of the new value-driven industry. Without years of experience working for and collaborating with some of the worlds most prestigious companies neither Crivello or Karavelioglu would have had the insight necessary to fully conceive of the brand, the custom supply chain and most importantly the mutually beneficial business model.

Many people may say "Being ethical and sustainable isn't a new idea!" or "Of course, combining science with fashion is the future!" These people fail to grasp the fundamentals.

The goal of Science of Apparel is not to create the perfect product for the wellness consumer or to tap into cultural idiosyncrasies through the "local" vernacular." Rather it is becoming an extension of the community it produces for, which can only be achieved by taking a fully integrated approach that addresses every supply chain operation and employee involved.

Science of Apparel is not solely defined by its ethics, design, sustainability, high-tech, science, non-binary, transparent: these terms are merely by-products of a company constructed brick by brick for a new species of consumer.

It is Crivello and Karavelioglu's holistic approach that hones in on the most desired, highly regarded, and in-demand materials and methods that they believe their consumers will embrace. It is this collection of tools bound by their authentic ethos that defines Science of Apparel. They truly are The New American Standard.