Every couple of generations, something comes along that fundamentally challenges the way we look at the world. Blue jeans, for example, once were the staple of manual labor, but with the embrace of greasers, hippies, and then fashion aficionados, they’ve become a staple of every home, no longer defining class. That same type of revolution is underway today.
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Formalitees, a shirt company located in the Rockies, hopes to accomplish that same feat; however, rather than redefining an image, they are creating their own.
The Formalitee is much more than a simple shirt with an attached necktie. Instead, the company stitches every tee with 100 percent organic, American-grown cotton that's free of pesticides, exploitative business practices, and pompous ‘we’re better than you’ attitude.
The shirt is incredibly comfortable, smooth to the touch, and (without a doubt) is sure to turn heads. Within my first few hours of wearing it, I lost track of how many comments random bystanders made about the stereotype-eluding nature of a t-shirt with a tie. Someone curiously asked, “What? Did you make that yourself?”
To be frank, judging the shirt by the pictures online doesn’t do it justice (although the pictures do look awesome). The tie rests gently below the neck, not too heavy to drag down the shirt, and not too light where you don’t notice it. Likewise, the stitching is clean and unobtrusive, boding well for the wearer and adding to the overall clean and surprisingly professional look of the shirt.
So, if blue jeans sought to redefine class, what is the mission of Formalitees?
In today’s market of create-and-kill trends, ideas are pinned up simply to be shot down and replaced by the next moneymaker. The new becomes the old, and the rule of thumb is that if you’re wearing it, it is probably already out of style. As a result, little time is spent on the philosophy behind what our clothes actually mean. As a matter of fact, I doubt any time is spent on this, disregarding the superficial justification of why something should hit the shelves.
Formalitees changes this, and anyone who ventures to their website will immediately take note. They have two targets – the corporate monstrosity that is an American reality and the unsustainable business practices of clothing and agriculture alike. To Formalitees, the business suit is a “symbol of servitude” and, in more ways than one, a brutal delineation of what our country should really stand against.
That said, Formalitees hopes to challenge business suits’ one positive aspect: professionalism. Essentially, the company holds that one can be formal and not sell out, and, in that spirit, wearing a Formalitee is the best way to represent this. In fact, on their site, they have an entire section devoted to Role Models, where they profile those courageous enough to tread their own paths and create their own realities (any readers remember the article on CommonStudio?).
They also challenge the business behind clothing and agriculture. Unlike the vast majority of big clothing companies who guiltlessly send their pesticide-filled shirts to 3rd world sweat shops, Formalitees proudly produces clothing that is American-grown and American-made. By using American farmers and American textile companies, they can support an already beleaguered economy, all while reducing carbon emissions and chemical use. Together, this makes for good, honest business on the part of Formalitees.
Where there are bright ideas, there are sure to be bright people behind them, and Formalitees is no exception. Bjorn Borstlemann and Kelley Sharp invented the tie-tee after seeing the fake tuxedo t-shirt, but rather than running with the same theme of pseudo-slapstick ridiculousness, they decided to develop an ideologically sound business.
The two created a prototype, took the time to develop a business plan, and the rest is history. With their own creative drive fueling the company, the two tirelessly work at developing a substantive message combined with a practical approach. Today, they give much needed support to their fellow Americans, as well as much needed relief for those who thought good ideas were long dead.
If you’re interested in learning more about Formalitees, their mission, and how to get a sweet new shirt, travel to their website at Formalitees.com. (By the way, this makes an awesome Christmas gift for any sons or daughters [or parents] who are hungry for something original).
Thanks for the inspiring work, Formalitees. Keep it up.