What seemed like an end to just another one of Emerald City’s flawless summer days, Liyin Kok, Rafael Soto, and Ashleigh Corker met after work at Ben Paris for quality cocktails, food, and conversation. They talked shop, life, and of course, fashion. Fashion was not only a subject they were passionate about, but what brought them together that July night in Seattle, Washington.
As the night progressed, the three friends began to conceptualize the perfect wardrobe basics starting with the perfect T-shirt, one made of the highest quality fabric that could worn in any situation, simplifying your wardrobe in the process. They discussed engineering the “perfect” T-shirt that looked great and had technical performance, whether it was for going out, hanging out, the gym, or work-from-anywhere. And it would be be eco-friendly to the planet and responsibly sourced.
Using the momentum from that conversation and their personal experience to develop a business strategy, the team began meeting for “book club” regularly to manifest their dream into existence. It was a little less than a year after the team’s initial conversation over cocktails and dinner, when their diligence blossomed to fruition.
Queue the birth of Proto101.
What is Proto101?
Proto101 is a sustainable clothing company designing high-quality, long-lasting, versatile everyday wardrobe staples with an ethical supply chain; an antidote to disposable “fast” fashion. Proto101 is founded on the philosophy that clothing can look good, feel good, and do good.
Why the name Proto101?
The first part of Proto101 stands for “prototype’’, which means a first, typical or preliminary model of something. The latter part of the name are the numbers 101, which are commonly used to signify the beginning or basic principles of a subject. You’ll see those numbers a lot in college, especially as a freshman, as all preliminary courses end in 101, such as English 101, Algebra 101, etc..
The name summarizes the mission statement of this team cleverly and concisely, as Proto101 specializes in simple, everyday, everyWEAR clothing that are the staple of any wardrobe. It can be said that Proto101’s brand provides its customers with the basics and essentials of high-quality and versatile fashion.
Who is it made for?
Proto101 tailors their clothes to those who value high quality, versatile clothing and sustainable, eco-friendly brands. Urbanites (city-dwellers) and Millennials would especially benefit from their products, as their shirts allow you to go about your entire day without having to change for each activity.
As the founders all come from diverse backgrounds, the team strives to be all inclusive of their products, highlighting diversity throughout their brand, marketing, advertising, and hiring processes.
What separates Proto 101 from the rest?
Creating a multi-use, perfect t-shirt: Proto101 has created the perfect hybrid t-shirt that bridges the gap between casual and performance clothing. Each t-shirt is engineered and designed into 1 versatile, work-horse fabric that allows you to be ready for anything throughout your day. This makes getting ready each morning a breeze, as the brand strives to simplify our wardrobe choices without compromising quality, performance, design or fit.
To make the perfect t-shirt, Proto101 started by getting the fundamentals right. Their fabrics are researched, selected and designed for comfort, quality, and everyday performance using sustainable and eco-friendly practices. The team then uses the best fabric made from the highest quality raw materials to create t-shirts that last and stay soft.
Sustainability in fashion: Having worked and launched fashion brands for multibillion dollar e-commerce giants, the founders knew the fashion industry had a “dirty” secret, an addiction to cheap, fast fashion, which has resulted in harmful impact on our planet. They saw very few brands creating sustainable, eco-responsible, high-quality clothing that was also stylish and affordable. These values are the ethos of the company and brand.
In order to be the change they wished to see, the company has taken an impressive forward stance on sustainability. One of their sustainability initiatives is to plant 50,000 trees throughout 2021 to neutralize their carbon footprint. Trees are a key part of the planet’s eco-system and absorb harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus impacting climate change. By partnering with OneTreePlanted.org, global non-profit committed to reforestation, they are able to plant trees to restore forests after fires and floods, create jobs, build communities, and protect habitat for biodiversity.
A key aspect of sustainable fashion is to design clothes that last and have longevity, since buying less is one of the biggest impacts a customer can have on reducing their carbon footprint. The brand proudly uses high-quality, sustainable fibers like Supima cotton and Tencel eucalyptus to enhance fabric durability, softness, anti-shrinking, and anti-pilling. The company sources eco-friendly, low impact materials that results in the reduction of water usage, pesticides, and micro-plastics. 100% of the cotton used the brand is sustainably grown and 100% of their fabrics are certified to be free from harmful chemicals and toxins.
Proto101 also ships their products in a compostable, biodegradable package that is made of 100% recycled materials. The plastic bag protecting each piece is also made of 100% recycled plastic, further showcasing their care and compassion toward the planet by considering their environmental impact from yarn to you.