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The Slick Bib: Utilizing an Engineering Background to Design a New Kind of Running Shirt

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While an undergrad at the University of Virginia, Adrian Santos pursued a major in chemical engineering. “I like chemistry, and I liked solving problems…[and I liked] taking things apart and putting them back together,” said Santos, regarding his motivations for choosing to study engineering. But four years after getting his engineering degree, Santos has found himself doing something wholly unexpected: designing activewear. “It’s funny because many of my friends don’t consider me a very ‘fashionable’ person,” yet he’s managed to design a new kind of running shirt that’s both functional and stylish.

Slick Bib-Two Runners

The Slick Bib is a running shirt that aims to solve a problem we always encounter at races: those damn safety pins. 5Ks, 10-milers, half-marathons, triathlons, et al. – if you’re like the rest of the post-collegiate population, then you have likely taken part in a race or three. While the post-race photos certainly make for great Facebook fodder, they don’t really convey the pains we experience in preparation for the race. Sure, training for a race can certainly be a long and difficult process, but what’s even more onerous is having to pin your race number to your shirt and having to run with the additional burden of safety pins rubbing against your chest.

“Apparently, I was supposed to use the safety pins to put the number on my shirt? I never did this before. It seemed intuitive and was supposed to be really simple – but I was frustrated and annoyed at how cumbersome the process actually was.”

Santos came up with the Slick Bib after participating in his first organized 5K race. After having to deal with the annoyance of safety pins, Santos channeled his engineering mind into drafting designs for a running shirt that would no longer require them. “I conceptualized, designed, and prototyped the early renditions of the Slick Bib…The current design is a product resulting from many iterations [thanks to] invaluable input and effort from my current design team.” The shirt features a translucent front pocket that allows a racer to simply insert their number – goodbye, shitty pins and holes in your running shirts!

Slick Bib-Pocket Close-Up

Recently, Santos launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Slick Bib, in part to validate this new interest in activewear design. “I decided to pursue bringing the Slick Bib to life because not only do I think many [people] will benefit from its functionalities, but I have a passion for staying active…[eventually,] I hope to be able to provide unique, functional, but also fashionable apparel for those who pursue an active lifestyle.” After the Slick Bib, Santos hopes to design more products and transform this project into a larger activewear and athletic brand.

Everywhere in the startup world, we can find English majors designing software or math majors revolutionizing the food industry. The Slick Bib is a testament to the flexibility of college concentrations – that, say, an engineer can find himself eventually designing activewear.

“[In engineering], you develop a habit and a mindset of constantly identifying inefficiencies and problems in products, processes, or systems. I simply identified a problem, searched for a solution, [and] validated the problem with others in the field [i.e., runners]. And when I couldn’t find a solution – I came up with my own.”

To learn more or to grab one for yourself, visit the Slick Bib Kickstarter campaign.

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About the Author

Ronald Barba is a staff writer and the East Coast reporter for Tech Cocktail. Formerly a DC native, he's now based in New York City. He reports on the Boston, Chicago, D.C., and NYC tech scenes. He's especially interested in venture capital, M&As, and tech/business trends. Aside from startups, Ronald is interested in philosophy, cognitive science, politics, social justice, pop culture, and all things geek. He reads Murakami and Barthes, and alternates binge watch sessions of 'Doctor Who' and 'The Mindy Project'. Got something to say? Then email me (ronald@tech.co). Follow me on Twitter: @RonaldPBarba. Subscribe to me on Facebook. Find me on Google.

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