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 find a brand you stick with it for the next five years). But undershirts? I'd never really heard of them. I suppose here, in the UK, we refer to them as vests, and 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?
The layer sitting next to the skin is doing one of four things; insulating from cold air, providing a barrier, absorbing sweat or wicking sweat. Undergarments are base layers. They sit next to the body; 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). Still, 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, 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 for comfort 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? 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 help absorb sweat. Well actually, to absorb more sweat than a single layer of fabric. Makes sense? Naturally, you don't want it to be bulky under there, and thanks to the feel of the material, it isn't. But that's not all. I added a unique feature which no other undershirt has - a small underarm pocket for a sweat shield.
Sweat Shields, Sweat Pads and Sweat Guards
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.
The problem with these 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 its tendency to get sweaty and wet ... well, as you can imagine, this little sweat pad is prone to coming off.
The undershirt's unique design comes into play. The 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 stays in place under the arm where it is providing extra sweat protection. Once used, remove the sweat shield. 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 stressful day you can fit the sweat shields. If it's not so bad, you can leave it out. The choice is yours. That means you have a little more freedom to suit your day and your mood.
A Confidence Boost
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. Others do not see my undershirt. My undershirt is fitted and made from incredible bamboo fabric, so it feels comfortable all day long. 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 wearing an undershirt to wondering what I would do without one.
I wanted to find out if this was just me?
Positive Customer Feedback
When I started to offer my men's undershirt design online as a sweat absorbing vest, it began 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 the positive feedback they gave me was even better.
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. But, whatever you call it, we modernised it to be fit for the 21st century.