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Building the Perfect Dress Shirt for Men: Our R&D Process

Stefan Loble

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.

Bringing to life a product 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 that 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).

Our process is a bit different from other companies out there, so I thought I’d share it with you.

It starts with frustration

We went through many fabric options to find a better non iron shirt.

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 other 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 find 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

We've tested the Meridian shirt all over the world - from France to hiking in Utah.

So now we test… and test… and test. For example, when we created the original Meridian Shirt, my team made more than 50 samples and I wore the fabric for well over a year. So I knew it worked before we ever made it available to customers.

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 test 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


It's finally here.

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...

Your standards are high. I figure that’s why we get along. And I promise that our products won’t let you down.

To see for yourself, I hope you'll try the Meridian Shirt today:


Stefan Loble 



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