Merino Miracle

05.10.13

Here’s a Men’s Work Shirt You Don't Have To Clean

A new men’s fashion company Wool&Prince creates a wool dress shirt that requires minimal cleaning. Claire Stern reports.

Like so many other young adult males, 24-year-old New Yorker Mac Bishop does not enjoy ironing his dress shirts. But unlike his peers, he has capitalized on this disdain for cleaning by launching a fashion startup called Wool&Prince on Kickstarter. The label boasts a shirt that can be worn multiple times (he estimates anywhere between ten and 50) before needing a wash. 

The secret to Wool&Prince’s everlasting shirt? Wool, as the brand name suggests. But Bishop’s creation doesn’t have the same itchy feel as those uncomfortable winter sweaters—each one is made of a specially-developed wool fabric. And one of the original fiber’s most redeeming qualities still applies: It naturally fights odors and wrinkles, and is generally longer-lasting than cotton (the primary component in most men’s dress shirts).

Bishop had wool on the brain well before launching the brand—he grew up in the textile industry around his family's business, the all-American heritage mill Pendleton (but Wool&Prince’s shirts are made overseas in China).

The wool shirt, Bishop said, was inspired by men’s penchant for jeans. Similar to denim, wool requires little cleaning—which is sure to draw desire from A.P.C.’s many non-washable denim fans. As inscribed on Wool&Prince’s Kickstarter page, the shirt’s cleaning instructions dictate: “When absolutely necessary, dry clean or gently wash.”

To test the lasting power of a wool shirt, Bishop embarked on his own trial experiment, in which he wore an altered Pendleton shirt for 100 days straight without cleaning. What he found was that it did pretty well—but he doesn’t necessarily suggest that others follow suit. “I don’t want this to be the self-cleaning shirt; I don’t want this to be the shirt you don’t have to dry clean—it’s not that at all,” he told The Daily Beast. “But I do strongly believe guys will be pleasantly surprised with the more wears they’ll get out of a wool shirt than a cotton shirt.”

Wool&Prince’s shirts are priced at $98 each, two for $190, or three for $280, and can be purchased via its Kickstarter page. So far, the brand has sold approximately 3,000 of them. It’s currently looking to acquire additional backers on Kickstarter before taking more orders, and is in the process of developing other wool products, including T-shirts, polos, socks, and even underwear.

“We’re really big fans of wool,” Bishop said. “In the last 15 years, the technology for loom knitting, and spinning yarn have really given fashion designers a better way to use the wool fiber.”

Bishop’s wool shirt endeavor has gone viral in the last two weeks, and many news outlets have dubbed it “the shirt that never needs to be washed.” Its Kickstarter page, which launched on April 22, has already raised $314,031 of its $30,000 goal through contributions from 2,333 backers, as of Friday morning.