To most people, stain-resistant clothing sounds like a smart buy — but only if it's carried by their favorite brands in the styles they want.
Fashion startup Dropel Fabrics wants to close the gap between everyday clothes and wearable technology. A self-described "ingredient brand," the six-month-old company hopes to integrate its hydrophobic textiles — which allow spilled liquids to roll right off the fabric — into the production cycles of popular retailers and up-and-coming designers.
Dropel's goal isn't to start its own line of hydrophobic clothes, which other startups have done, but rather to stain-proof everyday cotton fabrics, from kids' clothes to button-down shirts. Six retailers, including menswear and home furnishing brands, have already partnered with the company.
"We live in a world full of stains, but we don't have to," Sim Gulati, co-founder and CEO of Dropel Fabrics, said Friday at the second annual New York Fashion Tech Lab (NYFTL) Demo Day, hosted by Time Inc. "Unlike other treatments, our fabrics maintain the plush softness of cotton we love to wear. Wine, beer, soda — not even soy sauce stands a chance."
The ISO-certified textiles are produced by adding the stain-repelling nanotechnology into the fabric between the dyeing and knitting process, according to Dropel co-founder and President Bradley Feinstein. The cost of producing the garments with the technology rose only 5%, while retailers can see up to a 40% increase in sales, according to a client case study.
The hydrophobic clothes also promote sustainability by cutting down on water and energy used in washing processes, Feinstein says. And that adds up over time considering the number of stain-prone clothes we wear — school uniforms, business-wear, white t-shirts, nighttime outfits.
"This is everyday wear," Feinstein said. "Just better."