Bluffworks products are personal to me. They always start with a fight, because in the beginning, I’m mad. Something I wear is driving me crazy, and it has to change.
I'm here to announce that all of the painful R&D for our new dress shirt is behind us, and we're set to launch it on Kickstarter this Monday, September 18th.
For me, the reward is close at hand. We’re already in production, sewing 9,000 shirts to deliver to you in December, just a few weeks after the project closes.
Our Meridian Shirt has me floored. It’s a soft, natural feeling, breathable dress shirt, that has fantastic performance capabilities. I tend to wear one for three or four days before a wash because the Meridian is an antimicrobial shirt. And when it needs care, it comes out of the washer and dryer perfect — wrinkle-free for real, every time. I can commit that this is the only non iron shirt you’ll ever need.
Bringing to life a product like the Meridian shirt involves a lot of risk and setbacks, that in the past have literally piled years onto our development timeline. So I thought I'd share with you a glimpse from behind the scenes.
When I have a new product in mind, I’m essentially trying to get other people — mainly our fabric vendors — to accomplish what they haven’t been able to do before; and it usually goes wrong a few times before it goes right.
No, we can’t make a shirt that performs like you want, but which doesn’t look synthetic.
No, we can’t make it stretch… plus not wrinkle... while having the material still feel soft.
They’re thinking, If we could, we would have done it before (you idiot).
So how did we finally get here? If a shirt is a natural fit to go with our pants and blazer, why didn’t I launch one a long time ago? The answer lies in our process, so I thought I’d share it with you.
It starts with frustration
It all starts with me being frustrated: hating all of the things in my closet, and wondering why they are so far from the way I want them to be. Once upon a time, I used to wonder if there were guys who thought the same way. Now I know you do. And although in the end, your reviews are the greatest reward, at the start, alI I am is mad.
So I present my requirements to our partners, and we try to solve a way through what they haven’t done before. When they come back with prototypes, I look at them with a skeptical eye…
You see, I might not have told you before, but back in the blazer development days, I once had a fabric I thought was going to be a winner. I was so confident in it, that I went around the world to shoot a Kickstarter video for what I was going to call “the ‘round the world blazer.” It was so close to everything I wanted our blazer to be. But when I came home, the material fell apart.
How did this happen? Especially after I had tested the fabric for half a year? It turned out that after some initial success, the mill effectively “lost the recipe” and couldn't reproduce what I had tested. Heart breaking for sure, and it took me another two years to recover, going through countless mills, etc.… until finally we got it right, and the Gramercy Blazer was a great success.
Test like crazy
So now we test… and test… and test. My team has made over 50 samples and I’ve been wearing this fabric for our new performance dress shirt for well over a year. So I know it works.
The challenge is to test for variations we don’t naturally see. Did you know that in parts of Italy, the water is so hard that without a softener your clothes come out hammered? So they sell a powder that everybody adds to their wash. In an effort to account for curveballs like this, we stress our products in different locations, summer, winter, rain, humidity, approaches to washing, drying, durability, etc.
The final frontier of testing is a mad scientist lab, where they literally set materials on fire. WOW.
Gotta be patient
The tradeoff for this is: it takes time. For example, I've been trying to find the right t-shirt for YEARS. We could sell a t-shirt tomorrow, but we’re not ready, because we haven’t found the right “Bluffworks” t-shirt, one that performs great but doesn’t look or feel too technical. I can’t do it in a t-shirt yet — but I can in a dress shirt...
Not to give away the whole thing, but possibly my proudest moment in the shirt is after rock climbing in Colorado, being able to wash it in a stream, dry it in the back of the van, and wear it on a flight the next day. Ain’t nothin’ gonna hold this shirt back!
Your standards are high. I figure that’s why we get along. Sometimes, when I’m at a loss for words, all I can say is this shirt won’t let you down.