There’s nothing worse than spilling food on a crisp white shirt. But a new product called The Unstainable White Shirt, by the budget women’s fashion brand Elizabeth & Clarke, promises to repel liquids like magic.
This almost zany-level of stain protection is thanks to a nanotech coating of hydrophobic material. You’ve probably seen videos of such materials on YouTube. They work by disrupting the hydrogen bond that binds together water molecules. Water has to push away from the material’s surface to keep its structural integrity. The result is waterproofing at the molecular level.
Hydrophobic materials might be great at repelling stains, but they might also feel scratchy on your body or not breathe properly. (Ever spray Camp Dry on a pair of running shoes? If not, don’t.)
“The innovation here is the ability to use this finish on delicate fabrics like silk and cotton while still maintaining an incredibly soft hand feel,” explains Elizabeth & Clark co-founder Melanie Moore. After testing various hydrophobic products already on the market, the company decided to build its own proprietary technology in house. “It took about six months of testing and trial and error basically to find the best combination of fabric, handfeel, and repellency,” she says. The result is a shirt that she says feels as soft as pajamas.
The magic material uses liquid-repelling fibers that are 100,000 times smaller than a grain of sand, applied to fabric through a bathing and curing process. These fibers sit on top of otherwise normal silk and cotton textiles. The material, the company claims, can reject liquids for years, but retains a fabric’s natural breathability. So you can perspire, and the shirt won’t slide around your sweaty body as if it’s on stinky ball bearings.
The company promises that its products will last anywhere from two to 10 years, depending on the cut you buy, how often you wear it, and how you treat it. Apparently ironing only helps reinforce the material’s hydrophobic properties, so those who hate wrinkles will be well-rewarded for their efforts.
The shirts are on Kickstarter now. Pledge $25 for a tee and $40 for a blouse. The products will ship in September of this year.