Embalming fluid has its place, but not in apparel.
That’s the opinion of Twillory, a direct-to-consumer men’s wear startup, that on Thursday will introduce non-iron shirts produced without formaldehyde, a product that is used as a resin in many other wrinkle-free fabrics.
Instead, Twillory has created SafeCotton, a proprietary, health-conscious chemical treatment in partnership with its parent company, Byblos, a textile production firm that traces its history to Austria in 1892.
According to Cotton Inc., men’s apparel was 11 times more likely to be marketed as noniron or wrinkle-resistant last year, Twillory said. And the use of the formaldehyde cuts the life expectancy of the shirt by 25 percent, Twillory added. The company said that using formaldehyde impacts the breathability and absorbency of the shirts, diminishes the vibrancy of the color and the fabric often has a slick, sometimes harsh feel to it. Durability is also compromised, with faster wear at the cuffs, collars and elbows.
In a study produced by the United States Government Accountability Office, formaldehyde in non-iron apparel can lead to skin irritation, rashes, headaches and insomnia and has even been linked to leukemia and lung cancer, according to research provided by Twillory.
“The textile industry for years has been telling dermatologists that they aren’t using the formaldehyde resins anymore, or the ones they use have low levels,” said Dr. Joseph F. Fowler, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Louisville. “Yet despite that, we have been continually seeing patients who are allergic to formaldehyde and have a pattern of dermatitis on their body that tells us this is certainly related to clothing.”
Twillory believes it has solved the problem.
“Transparency is at the heart of our mission,” said Asher Weinberger, chief executive officer and cofounder of the New York City-based Twillory. “It’s vital consumers are aware about the dangers of formaldehyde in non-iron textiles and that there is now a safe alternative. We have been working to patent SafeCotton for two years, and couldn’t be more elated to bring it to market.”
Starting today, customers will be able to buy a button-down shirt with a spread collar in one of four classic colors, all made with SafeCotton. They will retail for $99 and will be available on the Twillory Web site.
“Twillory is backed by my family history rooted in textile innovation spanning the turn of the 20th century,” said Ricardo Goldschmidt, chief fabric officer and cofounder of Twillory. “With the support of Byblos, we have over 100 hundred years of experience rooted in the refusal to compromise on quality and product integrity.”
Twillory’s dress shirts have an average retail price of $99 and use two-ply Egyptian or Sea Island cotton, mother of pearl buttons and brushed steel collar stays. The site is currently running a “stock-up” special of four shirts for $199.