Ministry of Supply is branching out into women’s wear.
The men’s wear brand was launched in 2012 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers seeking a solution to what they saw as problems with traditional work apparel. It started with a Kickstarter campaign and has since raised $8.5 million in seed funding from investors including Zappos chief executive officer Tony Hsieh’s VTF Capital, Peter Lynch and AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda, a soccer player who invested in June.
The brand started with just one dress shirt and has since expanded into a full line of men’s wear and four brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S.
From today, it will begin selling women’s wear for the first time.
“Since launching our first dress shirt, the top question we’ve been asked is whether we offer a women’s line,” said Aman Advani, cofounder and ceo. “While we tackled the men’s market first, we believe everyone should have clothing that helps them attain to their highest potential, every day. With the launch of our first-ever women’s line, we’re now closer to achieving our full vision for better, sleeker workwear.”
Advani said it took two years of research and interviews with hundreds of women to create the line.
“Our ‘human-centered’ design model is inspired by our roots as engineers: We’re always looking to understand real people’s lives, problems and design flaws, and then create beautiful, functional products that people actually need,” said Gihan Amarasiriwardena, cofounder, president and chief design officer. “For both men’s and women’s clothing, we merge tailored simplicity with targeted performance. Our new items and branding showcase that commitment.”
The women’s line will launch with two blouse designs and two pairs of slacks. The blouses are called Easier Than Silk and are made from polyester yarn with coffee grinds infused into the fabric to absorb odor, have four-way stretch and are machine washable. The Structure Your Day Pant is made from a heavier polyester fabric with similar properties and a brushed interior for comfort. They are available in three colors while the blouses are offered in four. Retail prices will be $85 for the tops and $140 for the bottoms.
Advani said the line will launch with these two “foundational pieces” but expand into other product categories next year.
At the same time, Ministry is expanding its retail footprint and will open another three stores in Chicago, Atlanta and Bethesda, Md., by the end of the year. They will average about 1,000 square feet and offer the brand’s best-selling product while serving as a “community beacon,” Amarasiriwardena said.
“We tested everything from 200 to 2,000 square feet and from pop-ups with no inventory to stores that carried everything,” said Advani. “And we settled on this.”
Lastly, the company has made a decision to shorten its name to just Ministry. Not only is it easier to remember, they said, but customers referred to it by just that name anyway.