Picture the scene at any social event: people dancing, mingling, but most of all — sweating, right through their polyester party attire. College junior Sanibel Chai is out to change that.
Chai and her co-founder and high school friend Liz Lian are launching their company WICK to create party wear for women made from the same moisture-wicking fabrics of yoga clothes. While WICK is still waiting for its first batch of fabric to be delivered, interested buyers can sign up on its website to be in the know when WICK’s clothing becomes available.
“Why don’t we just adopt the fabric from active wear and make it into dresses?” Chai said.
Chai and Lian first developed their business plan when Lian returned home from a particularly sweaty outdoor event last summer.
It is beyond just banishing sweaty dresses, though. The co-founders aim to eliminate the VPL — or visible panty line — and the hassle of wearing a stick-on bra, as well as other headaches that accompany going-out clothes.
WICK’s targets are college-aged women because they will be most receptive to the idea, Chai added. After listening to feedback from friends, the partners decided to add functional pockets to their apparel. The pieces in the line can be cleaned in a washer and dryer which is why their slogan is “the no-stress black dress,” she said.
“These are all very simple fixes and easy solutions that no one has employed yet,” Chai said.
To show realistic images of what their products will look, the partners plan to encourage customers to upload photos of themselves wearing WICK pieces on social media, letting potential buyers see how they fit on someone of a similar body type.
Lian hopes that women — or “WICK Chicks” — who wear their line will embody “the way we want to live and the way that we think our clothing will encourage other people to live,” she said.
“We’re really trying to focus on building brand equity," Chai added. She said that with no formal training in fashion or business, the process has felt like a “crash course.” The two learn as they go and outsource to professionals what they are unable to do themselves.
“Neither of us had really any experience in the fashion industry,” Lian said, “but once we got to know kind of what we were talking about, it became a bit easier.”
The process is very hands-on for the co-founders who once went door-to-door in New York City meeting with sewing contractors.
“When we talk to complete strangers, they just assume we’re a full-fledged business, and little do they know we’re doing it from our dorm rooms,” Chai said.
While the co-founders were unable to patent their idea, they remain confident in WICK’s potential. Established active brands marketing their own clothes could be worrisome for the company, but the two expressed faith in WICK because it focuses on party clothes.
“As other companies like Lululemon start creating their own things, what will set us apart will really be our brand,” Chai said. “Our vision for WICK’s place in your wardrobe is that it is your go-to.”