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Designing a Sweat Absorbing Undershirt

Robert Kay

Posted on December 01 2016

Written by Robert Owen Kay
Founder and designer
Picture of Robert Owen Kay

 

Designing a sweat absorbing undershirt wasn't something I set out to do. Before I started Robert Owen Undershirts I’d never really thought about undershirts at all. I'd thought plenty about underpants and how challenging it is to find a brand that not only looks good but is also comfy (and how when you do you tend to stick with that brand for the next 5 years). But undershirts ... I'd never really heard of the name. I suppose in the UK we refer to them as vests, and that name, well that just made me think of being five, or my Grandad. But getting past the name for a moment, what is the purpose of an undershirt, or a vest or whatever name you want to call it? Any layer designed to sit next to the skin is designed to do one of four things: insulate the skin from cold air, provide a barrier, absorb sweat or wick sweat. All these undergarments are just base layers (or baselayers depending on your spelling preference). They sit next to the body and are worn primarily to do a job. When it comes to winter sports I was very familiar with the concept of base layers (for insulation and sweat wicking), but I'd not considered that same concept for everyday or office wear (for insulation and sweat absorption). What I was all too familiar with was the feeling of sweat marks ruining my day. Not the end of the world, for sure, but a problem which affected my confidence and distracted me from the task at hand. What I needed was a vest, a tee shirt, an undershirt (call it what you will) that would sit invisibly under my dress shirt. It needed to be light enough to feel good yet able to absorb my sweat (at least most of it), to prevent sweat marks appearing on my shirt. Could I find that in the UK? No. So I did something about it and designed my own.

How Do You Design the Perfect Undershirt?

How do you design the perfect undershirt? Is it not rocket science, right? No, clearly not. It's about getting the right fabric cut to the right design which has the right fit with the right features. Ah yes the features: deep v neck so it won't show under your dress shirt, long enough to stay tucked in, body contouring fit, and most importantly double panels under the armpit. Why? To absorb sweat. Well actually to absorb more sweat than a single layer of fabric. Makes sense yes? Obviously, you don't want it to be bulky under there, and thanks to the feel of the fabric, it isn't. But that's not all. We added what we think is a unique feature which no other undershirt has. More about that in a moment first let me talk about something called a sweat shield.

Sweat Shields, Sweat Pads and Sweat Guards

You see I noticed some people were dealing with their sweat issue by wearing sweat shields (also known as sweat pads, sweat guards and dress shields). What is a sweat guard? It's a shaped cotton pad, about the size of the palm of your hand, with a sticky back. You stick them on your shirt on the inside in the armpit. All very well. But the problem with these dress shields is you're never quite sure if they are going to stay in place. And, guess what, sticking something onto fabric and moving around all day, plus it getting wet ... well, you can imagine this little sweat pad is prone to coming off. This is where our undershirt (or vest) with its unique design comes into play. You see our sweat protect undershirt has a unique pocket space formed in the double panel under the arm just large enough to hold a dress shield. The sweat pad is held in place under the arm where it is providing extra sweat protection. Once used the sweat shield is disposed of. No other men's undershirt has this feature. Some have sweat guards built in, which means they need some serious washing. Whereas with our undershirt design, you have the choice. If you feel like it's going to be a sweaty day you can fit the sweat shields. If it's not so bad you can do without. The choice is yours. That means you have a little more freedom to suit your day and your mood.

This Really Has Boosted my Confidence

This really has boosted my confidence. Now, my days are very different. It's hard to put a price on not worrying about sweat. I no longer worry about sweat marks. My fitted undershirt won't be seen by anyone else. My undershirt is fitted and it's made of the most amazing bamboo fabric, so it feels comfortable all day long. In fact, it feels so good I find myself wearing it all the time; for leisure, for sport, even for sleeping. I've gone from not having thought about buying undershirts to wondering what I would do without one. What did I used to wear as a pyjama top?

But was all this just me? I wanted to find out.

Positive Customer Feedback

Well, it turns out no. When I started to offer my men's undershirt design online as a sweat absorbing vest it started to sell, and, get great reviews. When I asked customers why they were buying this undershirt they told me it was for the same reason I had designed it in the first place. They felt embarrassed about sweat marks. How about that, I wasn't the only one! And what about the positive feedback they gave me; that was even better. One even said it had transformed his job. Now that is a problem solved. Designing a sweat absorbing undershirt wasn't something I set out to do but I'm glad I did. I still don't know whether to call it a men's vest or an undershirt. Vest or undershirt, whatever you call it, we modernised it to be fit for the 21st century.

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