July 7, 2013
Face it guys, the dress sock is living in the 1920’s while our fly suits are thriving in the modern age. Aside from a poor aesthetic, the traditional dress sock is uncomfortable and provides little to no cushion for the wearer.
Thankfully, the Ministry of Supply, a Boston-based apparel company, agrees. To provide performance in a dressed-up look while blending the digital and physical worlds we inhabit, they pulled the dress sock out of the 1920’s for a much-needed upgrade. This is the Atlas sock.
“Think of the three basic human needs: food, shelter, and clothing,” says co-founder Gihan Amarasiriwardena. “Why not think of our apparel – clothing – in the same way we think of technological upgrades?”
The man has a point. After all, humans interact with apparel at every moment of every day, and sewing machines are getting a bit outdated. Thus, the MIT-born team brought 3D Robotic Engineered Knitting into the mix.
“Picture the way that Apple creates products out of a single piece of aluminum,” says Amarasiriwardena. “We start with synthetic fibers and spit out socks.”
The best place to begin, from the team’s perspective, is to understand the unique nature of the foot. Through strain analysis, pressure mapping, and thermal imaging, the Atlas sock was created to fit your foot like a second skin.
It moves with your toes, joints, and skin as you bend, stretch, and flex throughout the day. There are featured areas with extra cushion, and the ventilation system wicks away moisture while providing a breathable atmosphere for your foot.
That bar was still too low for the team, so they used 3D Robotic Engineered Knitting to create a new synthetic yarn. The sock is 40 percent recycled polyester, 40 percent cotton, and 20 percent elastane, but the polyester is infused with carbonized coffee. It might sound crazy, but there is a method to the madness.
By grinding up coffee and meshing it with the thread, the Atlas sock eliminates the carbon molecules responsible for causing horrible foot odor. Finally, you can take your shoes off without your wife, friends, or dog running for the front door.
The really important element to take away from this is that new hybrid organic and synthetic materials are being created with the help of 3D printing. This is perfectly in line with the Ministry of Supply’s mission to blend the physical and digital world.
“We are starting with our dress socks and base layers, but we do not think the game is only limited to undergarments,” says Amarasiriwardena. “Down the road, we will be able to make dress shirts and pants in the same manner.”
The Ministry of Supply began their Kickstarter campaign to raise $30,000. Today, with 22 days left on the clock, they have hit $91,446. So you tell me how you think the future will unfold for them – in the meantime, I will (eventually) be enjoying my new socks.
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