HyperNatural Co-Founder Deconstructs The Making Of An Ultra-Sustainable Luxury Polo

This is going to sound a little crazy, but I’ve made up my mind: this HyperNatural polo shirt is too good to wear on Zoom calls.

Although it would absolutely make me look more professional than almost any of the people I see on the other side of a screen lately, the camera on my laptop wouldn’t do this shirt justice.

People wouldn’t realize that the extra-soft Supima cotton is being cooled by the addition of Jade.

Without being physically in the same room, they would never suspect this shirt contains crab shells to eliminate odour.

Even if they squinted, would they realize the buttons contain mother of pearl?

All images courtesy HyperNatural

Of course, I probably will end up wearing my HyperNatural shirt on Zoom calls, because it will likely become one of the stars of my spring, summer and even fall wardrobe. The dark navy will look as good under a sports jacket as it will with shorts on the beach.

Launched just last month, HyperNatural is based in New York and is the result of a collaboration between Chris Kolbe and Christian Arkin, who have spent a collective 30 years working for brands such as Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, Original Penguin and Saks.

Chris Kolbe HyperNatural
Chris Kolbe, co-founder, HyperNatural

According to Kolbe, who I spoke with by phone in March, HyperNatural was conceived as that rarity in the fashion world: a luxury brand founded upon sustainable principles. The shirt I was gifted, for instance, is 95% biodegradable. Half of it is made from regenerative waste, and it doesn’t contain any virgin polyester or plastics.

“A lot of what’s considered best in the luxury world, or even the golf market, was made of polyester and chemicals,” Kolbe told Menswhere. “Polyester is plastic. Chemicals are awful for your body. How is that luxury? How is that the best?”

Kolbe and Arkin spent two years in research in development to develop the right fabric, consulting with materials scientists with a specific set of attributes in mind. This included something that would be stretchy and comfortable, of course, but also something guys could wear all day without feeling overheated and antimicrobial functionality to deal with sweat smells.

“We started realizing there’s are ways to kind of create a material cocktail of sorts, using what effectively was wasted materials, to then give it a second life in a natural-performing way,” he said.

Starting the brand with polo shirts was also a very intentional move. As Kolbe pointed out, polos are often one of the most simple and versatile items guys have in their closets, but the ones many of us own are ill-fitting, ratty or both. In that sense, HyperNatural is taking the “do one thing really well” approach to developing a brand.

“I think that’s kind of what guys have always wanted – to have something that is almost like the Swiss Army knife their wardrobe,” he said. “You can wear it under a suit, you would wear it golfing or take it on that long weekend trip as well.”

Besides offering its shirts online, HyperNatural wil be available at retailers like Nordstrom, Fred Segal, and Rothmans. This includes four main styles offered in two fabrics, micro pique and featherweight jersey. There’s a classic and slim fit and 29 different solid colours. Best of all, these don’t cost a fortune: the featherweight jersey is $135 and the micro pique polo is $165. A heavyweight pique will launch in the fall for $195.

Kolbe admitted that many male shoppers might not have sustainability top of mind when they’re looking for clothes. The fact it is eco-friendly is like a “Trojan horse” that brings extra value to their purchase, he said. Over time, however, the public consciousness of issues like climate change could shift attitudes to where HyperNatural’s sustainable design will become a key expectation among discerning men.

“We have this vision where apparel can be more than just something covering your body. It can actually deliver wellness and comfort,” Kolbe said. “The future has to be more natural and has to be more innovative. We just want to be one of those pioneers that can show you can have both, and you can do it in a way that’s more responsible.”

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