Ably Apparel swears that its shirts repel liquids “like a duck”—that they wick sweat before it starts to stink things up. The company claims you could go weeks, months even, without washing these shirts. They won’t even stain. That sounded like a challenge.
I’ve got Ably’s Douglas Long Sleeve Tee ($60), the Jamison V-Neck ($48) and the women’s Polly Dropped Neckline Tee ($48) in my possession. To start, I wore the Polly tee for an entire weekend to see just how well it’d hold up… or how quickly this experiment would devolve into smelly isolation. Yes, I may have had an ulterior motive to repel people for a quiet weekend, like this shirt claims to repel sweat. But I’ve been bedridden with a cold, so no one has been coming near me anyway.
The properties of Ably Apparel come from its patented Filium process, an eco-friendly, nano-free technology that makes a natural fabric repel liquid and resist odor without sacrificing softness or breathability. The brand operates in accordance with bluesign® standards for sustainable materials, so there are no particles or harmful chemicals on the clothes. The Polly tee, for example, is 100 percent cotton. This also means you can wash and dry it but, allegedly, you won’t even really have to do all that nonsense. Not often, anyway.
Raj and Akhil Shah came up with the concept in 2015. They were looking for a more sustainable answer to clothing than synthetic fabrics, which dry quickly, don’t get weighed down when they’re wet and don’t retain odors. The duo has worked in the apparel industry for more than four decades, so they knew what they were up against. And I can attest that Ably Apparel is on point. In fact, this Polly shirt has even exceeded my expectations.
I started wearing the Polly tee on Saturday, which I spent largely in bed binging on Netflix. It was mostly safe from anything that could stain it there, but it wasn’t safe from smelling like a sick girl. By Sunday morning, I was feeling anxious, so I rolled out of bed and ran on over to an hour-long boxing class—a class that always leaves me drenched in sweat. I’m talking sweat stains through the pads on my gloves. To my surprise, the shirt stayed dry. And, moreover, it smelled neither like someone who’s been bedridden nor like someone who’s been boxing.
After showering and putting the shirt back on (Go ahead, cringe. I did, too.), I crawled onto the couch to kick the rest of my cold. But I wasn’t convinced that this shirt was life-proof, so I went to extreme levels. I ordered some tacos, as one does when they’re feeling ill and just after a workout, and I drenched them in hot sauce. I ate those tacos… wearing that shirt… with no napkins.
I spilled, of course, and the hot sauce did indeed stain. That said, it didn’t stain as hot sauce would normally stain. The beads of Cholula rolled around the shirt like droplets of water on a raincoat; they left behind a just-visible blemish, but the damage could have been so much worse.
For that reason, I’d give Ably Apparel a 9 out of 10.
I imagine these shirts, which are also super lightweight, are ideal for traveling when you’ve got long flights to catch, little time to change and limited room to pack too many options. Ably Apparel actually offers a wealth of workwear, casual wear and even boxers—though I’m not sure how long you want to go without washing those—so you’d be wise to consider the brand for any sort of travel.
Plus, it makes up for those hot sauce spills. It gives back to three organizations, like Splash, which enlists foreign governments and builds local businesses to make safe and clean water available for children in poor cities around the world. It also gives to Carbonfund.org, which partners with groups around the world that share the goal of fighting climate change, and the Clean Clothes Campaign, an alliance of organizations in 16 countries that fights to ensure that the fundamental rights of workers are respected in the global garment and sportswear industry.
Smell good and do good—and do less laundry? Tough to beat that combo.