How Ministry of Supply Shook Up Workplace Attire

To stay fresh while traveling as a consultant, Aman Advani sewed the soles of Nike socks into his dress socks. He then discovered his colleague, Gihan Amarasiriwardena, did something similar—he sewed old running tees into his dress shirts.

The two joined forces with Massachusetts Institute of Technology classmate Kit Hickey to launch a professional clothing line to solve this problem: Ministry of Supply. The name comes from the “inventor [Charles Fraser-Smith] immortalized as ‘Q’ in James Bond,” whose department made sure Bond was well supplied with gadgetry to conquer any mission. 

“We rallied around that one principle of creating a new category of clothing we call performance professional,” Advani says. “How do we shake up an industry that hasn’t really evolved in decades? What we’re wearing to work today is not too dissimilar from what our grandparents might have worn decades ago.”

Ministry of Supply reimagines workplace attire

Ministry of Supply launched in 2012 with the Apollo shirt. Aesthetically similar to a dress shirt, it is made from a piqué knit fabric, resistant to wrinkles or sweat stains. It also features the same temperature-regulation technology NASA uses in its spacesuits.

The company has grown and overcome obstacles since launching, from bringing in former Brooks Brothers design director Jarlath Mellett to opening brick-and-mortar shops—all of which are currently closed.

They also have a “1 In, 1 Out” program. The company sends customers a box and prepaid shipping label, allowing them to donate clothing to people in need through one of Ministry of Supply’s partner organizations.

Advani received sage advice early on that always stuck with him: Find the right family.

“Find the people who already have a palate and excitement for what you’re doing instead of spending your time convincing the people who are immediately and initially opposed to it,” he says.

Editor’s Note: Kevin Rustagi was one of the four original founders of Ministry of Supply. He left in 2012, before this article was published.

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine and has been updated. Photo courtesy of Ministry of Supply

Jamie Friedlander is a freelance writer based in Chicago and the former features editor of SUCCESS magazine. Her work has been published in The Cut, VICE, Inc., The Chicago Tribune and Business Insider, among other publications. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found drinking matcha tea into excess, traveling somewhere new with her husband or surfing Etsy late into the night.

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