Okay, male readers. Time to fess up – and I have not one, but two rather vexing questions for you. First, what is the percentage of clothes in your wardrobe that you actually wear on a regular basis? I bet you think it’s at least fifty percent. But you know what? It isn’t. In fact, research has shown that we actually wear only around twenty percent of all the shirts, pants and jackets we buy. Yikes! So what about the other eighty percent? Well, those are all the low-rotation duds in the back of your closet that you once bought but for various reasons never put on. Remember them? I know I don’t because I am the perfect example of a guy who only wears a fraction of the clothes he owns and has conveniently forgotten the rest. Here’s my second question. Did you ever take a dirty and or smelly shirt out of the hamper and put it back on for another day simply because you couldn’t muster the strength to wash and then iron it? Well? Let’s face it, we’ve all been there – including yours truly. These two questions are exactly why I jumped at the opportunity when the Amsterdam-based menswear brand LABFRESH asked me if I could try out a few items from their line of clothes that supposedly neither stain, wrinkle nor smell. So, if you want to know how many days I’ve worn one of their shirts before it finally got smelly, then by all means read on!
LABFRESH: Who, what, where?
Before I continue, however, there’s one thing I should tell you first. LABFRESH is not one of those fashion brands you’ve never heard of before but whose sponsored ads keep showing up in your Instagram feed every time you flip your thumb. Catchy design, a price too good to be true and reviews that aren’t necessarily positive – you’ve seen them, right? The company whose products I’ve been testing, however, could not be more different. You see, LABFRESH (and yes, it’s spelled in all caps) was founded by a very talented and ambitious Dutch-Danish couple by the name of Lotte Vink and Kasper Petersen, who took the latest innovations in textiles, developed a business model around it and then made it all the way to the final of the Get in the Ring startup competition. I’m impressed! Under the name FreshCore (trademarked, of course!), Lotte and Kasper combined three technologies that supposedly solve the three fashion problems you never in your wildest dreams thought could be solved: stains, smells and dirt. You just took them for granted, the way you couldn’t imagine someone inventing puppies that would never grow up. It would just be too good to be true!
Why I decided to give LABFRESH a try
Long story short: I thought it would be fun to try out LABFRESH and see if everything they write is actually true. Oh well, sure you do, I hear you think. You spend a few hours writing a nice little article about some new fashion brand, you get to keep the outfit – we know how credible some of you influencers are. And I don’t blame you, I often think the exact same thing. However, I’ve also come to a point where I seriously need to re-think my wardrobe. Let me first tell you what my wardrobe goal is. What it comes down to – and I’m sure you’ll recognize this – is that I want to be able to create the maximum number of different outfits using the minimum number of clothing items. That doesn’t mean I’m a cheapskate, though. If they fit my budget, I don’t mind at all paying at least a little bit more for the clothes I buy. Having said that, I don’t particularly care about which brands my shirts and pants are. As long as they look good and feel comfortable, I’m totally fine. On the other hand, when it comes to accessories, I tend to go a bit more high end. They are what I’d like to think of as my secret outfit ingredients. I mean, any man can put on a light blue shirt and a pair of dark blue chinos, but do they have the fashion wherewithal to combine them with, say, a striped Paul Smith scarf and a vintage Gucci bucket hat? I don’t think so! Back to basics, however. Because as far as shirts and pants go, I’m sad to report I’ve become unmoored lately. Up until a few years ago, I used to wear a lot of Mango. And I mean: a lot. At the start of each season, I’d buy the items I really, really wanted at full price. And then near the end, I vacuumed up the rest as soon as sale would start.
Did I wear everything I had bought? The shameful yet honest answer would be, nope! There were always two scenarios. Depending on how much I ended up actually wearing it, an item would sink without trace to the back of the closet (the dreaded 80 percent of fashion flops) or keep its vaunted spot in the front (the twenty percent I wore on a weekly basis). Sounds wasteful? Well, that’s because it is! What makes matters even worse, is that the clothes I wear a lot, also wear out a lot. Whenever I had a favorite pair of pants, it would for example only be a matter of time before I ended up with a hole in the crotch. And it is only now that I’m writing about this First World Problem and had to do some Googling that I realize I’m not alone in my crotch blowout misery. God, I hate it whenever that moment invariably rolls around. Because unless I cut my pants down to this, I might as well toss them out and buy yet another new pair. A while ago, I switched from Mango to Uniqlo, hoping that a cooler and seemingly more durable brand would do the trick. But alas…another problem would present itself after a while: smelly shirts. I would spend around 40 euros on what seemed like a nice shirt, wear it a couple of times and then end up with an underarm funk that suggested some very poor personal hygiene on my part. And I assure you, I shower at least once a day – twice if I work out! So, what caused said funk? Beats me, all I know is that I had I often ended up changing outfits before the day was even halfway over. And don’t even get me started on all the extra washing, drying and ironing I had to do.
The LABFRESH showroom in Amsterdam
So, after years of low-rotation duds, crotch blowout and smelly shirts you can imagine I was more than willing to try something new. But what? I hadn’t figured out the answer until one December day, I received an email from LABFRESH asking me if I wanted to come over to their Amsterdam showroom and office. But of course! When I arrived at noon, one of the first things I noticed was an open bottle of red wine. My kind of company, I thought to myself as I assumed they must love a few really early Friday afternoon office party. Imagine my surprise (and slight disappointment, I must admit) that the folks at LABFRESH used the red wine to demonstrate to customers that their clothes really are stain repellent. We even tried it out and it worked. The wine flowed right off the fabric! Now, I don’t know about you but the first thing that I thought of was, why don’t they do underwear? That would make perfect sense to me! I mean, I’m clean enough down there for my underwear to last the three days I was told I could safely wear a LABFRESH shirt, right? I ended up choosing an outfit that is perfect for the current Zeitgeist in which we all want to look instantly Instagrammable yet want to stay as casual as possible. First, we chose a business casual shirt that I swear felt as soft as a baby’s bottom. I then tried on a pair of navy chinos that may not seem the bee’s knees at first sight, but won me over the moment I saw it featured an elastic waistband. Ideal for those long video conference calls in which you want to sit comfortably yet look smart – although at this point in time, I’m not sure if my co-workers or anyone else for that matter is ever going to see my legs again. I might as well call it a day and become an avatar! We completed the look with a cotton worker jacket that I just knew instantly would become part of the 20 per cent club in the front of my wardrobe. Altogether, we put together an outfit worthy of The Sartorialist and then we went outside for an impromptu photoshoot. And as you can see, even though I’m not one of the impossibly handsome models LABFRESH uses in their ads, I still looked quite dapper if I say so myself.
So, how many days did I end up wearing the same LABFRESH shirt before it got smelly?
Now, here comes the exciting part. And I can already imagine the line I’m going to use to promote my story on Facebook: You won’t believe how many days this handsome man wore a LABFRESH shirt without going smelly. And believe me, you’re not going to believe it. I first wore my new outfit during our family Christmas party, where it instantly earned my mother’s seal of approval. No mean feat considering she always looks good herself and is not afraid to speak up if she thinks one of her sons is – God forbid! – slightly underdressed for the occasion. After that, I started wearing my LABFRESH shirt twice a week without washing it. I felt odd when at the end of the day I didn’t throw it in the hamper but instead put it back on its hanger in my wardrobe. Nevertheless, I persisted. Whenever I took the shirt back out again, I made a point of checking the shirt’s armpits to make sure it passed the smell test. Week one, nothing. Week two, same thing. Week three…well, you guessed it. In fact I’m now in week number six and my LABFRESH shirt smells as good as new. It also still looks like I just ironed it, how about that?
So, how now, brown cow? Should I just throw out all my old clothes and replace them with a neat little row of LABFRESH outfits? Well, technically I could. But I won’t, at least not just yet. I’ve decided instead to gradually throw out whatever item I can’t wear or don’t feel like wearing anymore and then make the transition. I figured that if I play my cards right, I can definitely trim down my wardrobe to about twenty percent of its current size. Sure, LABFRESH shirts are more expensive than those I normally buy, but I figured it’s going to be worth it in the long run. And the LABFRESH underwear? Well, I can dream, can’t I?
Disclaimer: I received a LABFRESH outfit in order to write this article – but you already got that from the article, right?