Chris Kolbe and Christian Arkins launch HyperNatural brand, the 'Tesla of polo shirts'
Launched in early March 2023, HyperNatural is a new eco-luxury polo brand created by co-founders Chris Kolbe and Christian Arkins. Its retailers are already calling it the "Tesla of polo shirts."
Chris Kolbe, who is also the brand's CEO is a well-known figure in the fashion industry. He is the former EVP and chief merchandising officer of Belk, the American department store as well as the former brand president of Land's End. He also held the role of merchandising specialist at Polo Ralph Lauren, Urban Outfitters, J. Crew, Sak's Fifth Avenue and Kohl's, and is best known for having relaunched Original Penguin, the iconic golf brand in the U.S. of the 1950s. He built a $50 million global men's, women's and accessories business in just five years, and opened 10 retail stores. In this new adventure, Chris Kolbe has joined forced with Christian Arkins, the former head designer of J.Crew and Original Penguin.
The duo are starting a new chapter in their long career by choosing an eco-friendly and luxury positioning, revisiting the polo shirt. "The polo shirt has been a men's wardrobe staple since the mid-1800s, and it's brilliantly simple to wear and suits every taste" says Kolbe. "The problem is that most of them aren't very good and are made with polyester and chemicals," adds Kolbe. "Our goal is to make HyperNatural the most coveted shirt in the world for comfort, and it happens to be sustainable."
To achieve their goal, Kolbe and Arkins spent two years researching the best manufacture and testing of a new fabric and came up with a polo shirt made from Supima cotton - reputed to be the softest in the world - and natural and recycled materials such as jade stone and crab shells. The result is a fabric that is 95% biodegradable and 50% made from regenerative waste.
"Jade stone absorbs heat very slowly and keeps the skin temperature 3 to 5 degrees cooler, even in hot weather," Kolbe says. "We have embedded microscopic jades in the fabric to dissipate heat and cool the skin naturally. We use crab shells (chitin), a natural biopolymer from shellfish and food waste. This gives you odor protection and helps moisturize the skin, reduce inflammation and promote healing."
The first collection of polo shirts features four main styles, offered in two different fabrics (micro pique and featherweight jersey), two cuts (classic and slim), and 29 colors (all solid) and are priced at $135 or $165. Each polo also features a magpie logo, "the most intelligent bird in the world."
For the next two years the brand plans to focus on the U.S. market. "Our distribution is through luxury men's boutiques with great partners on the West Coast who appreciate our approach to ecoluxe and material innovation," comments Kolbe. "The golf market is also a natural market for us to expand into in 2024."
HyperNatural, which just launched its e-shop early March, has already committed to wholesale with a selection of retailers including Rothman's in New York, Nordstrom and Fred Segal and Wittmore in Los Angeles.
"We also plan to have retail stores in the future," Kolbe adds, "but not right away. HyperNatural is a brand and a product that you have to experience, to understand how it feels. That's why our retail partners are so important to our brand experience."
Once the brand launches, its designers are expected to expand the line into other product categories. "Products that touch your skin and value natural performance. Men's and women's clothing, sleepwear, home, underwear, etc. Men's polo shirts are just the beginning of our approach. There is much more to come," Kolbe concludes.
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