When Mike Natenshon’s girlfriend accidentally threw out his favorite T-shirt—perfectly soft from years of wash and wear—he underwent a long series of experiments to replicate that worn-in comfiness right off the rack. And, while the former investment banking analyst says it took “a year and $40,000 in credit card debt to get our fabric set and the first run of shirts made,” the result is Marine Layer, the company that Natenshon founded in 2009 with his best friend Adam Lynch in order to manufacture and sell the softest, most wearable T-shirts ever made.
Of the long search, Natenshon says, “Polyester is actually quite soft, but has some performance issues. The mill that I found in Los Angeles was doing some things with pure modal for women and the fabric was amazingly soft, but very silky. So we started playing around with knitting fine cotton together with the modal. That got us our signature jersey that still looks and hangs like a typical cotton shirt, but is significantly softer.”
The fabric is so soft that Marine Layer encourages any possible doubters to order a free swatch. Their custom fabric is made from pima cotton and MicroModal—made from 95% recycled beech wood. “We just try to run our business in a socially responsible way and right now that means making everything in California and using a fabric that has a small environmental footprint,” Natenshon says.
Marine Layer’s T-shirts, button-downs, hoodies, dresses and lounge attire epitomize laid-back, Californian style, which is appropriate given their office’s San Francisco location. And, while the research and groundwork was difficult, the result is relaxed: “Our stuff is for the average guy who wants to look good without trying too hard.”
Images courtesy of Marine Layer