For Aman Advani, the CEO and co-founder of Ministry of Supply, things are just heating up. He and co-founder/president Gihan Amarasiriwardena already made their mark on the apparel industry by combining sport fabrics with boardroom style in a new performance professional category. Now, the duo is set to debut another game changer that celebrates the company’s beginning.
Drawing on his engineering background, Advani started the company at MIT with Amarasiriwardena and used Kickstarter in 2012 to launch their first product—a men’s dress shirt crafted of NASA-developed material. That campaign is still one of the platform’s smash hits, having raised nearly $430,000, which led the company to expand its products, open a shop on Newbury, and later, create a program to help customers donate clothing to Goodwill.
Advani credits what he calls the “quantified empathy process”—using the scientific method to uncover problems in apparel design—for the company’s success. Now he’s cranking the temperature on a fusion of fashion and science with the release of the Mercury Intelligent Heated Jacket, which boasts three tiny heating elements to create an app-controlled toasty microclimate for the wearer. Says Advani: “It’s individualized and uses machine learning and new techniques to basically figure out your heat preferences and adjust accordingly when it’s the dead of winter in Boston.”
In many ways, this product felt like a relaunch for Ministry of Supply, so the company returned to Kickstarter for the presale. Ahead of the official launch in November, the public is already feeling the warmth since the presale snagged about $200,000 on its first day—a career highlight for Advani. “That we could advance technology and fashion simultaneously together was such a special moment,” he says.
“As we set out to create a new category of clothing, we not only needed to convince potential customers and investors to get on board with our idea, we also had to find manufacturers who were willing to partner with us to re-engineer business apparel. Finding those manufacturers came with unexpected challenges and a number of setbacks, and we spent our first two years trying to find the perfect partners to produce our apparel. Eventually, we came to learn that mindset mattered more than skill set—that is, finding manufacturers who had a thirst to join us was much more critical than their tools and expertise.”
INFLUENCERS: GEORGE FOREMAN III | TARA FOLEY | ELLIOT COHEN | JC TETREAULT | JOANNE CHANG | PEDRO ALONZO | AMAN ADVANI | KATHY ABBOTT | BRIDGETTE WALLACE | SUSAN RODGERSON