Have you ever had a genius idea for clothing? Say, a onesie that looks like a suit, a laptop bag you can hide under a jacket, or jeans that become rainbow-colored over time. Maybe you want to buy clothing that’s a little more innovative, that clearly had thought put into it. Or maybe you just need some yoga pants you can wear to work. You, my friend, need to explore BetaBrand.
I was turned on to BetaBrand from the latter scenario, when a Facebook friend posted her discount code for the “infamous dress pant yoga pants,” which she swore were the most comfortable work pants she owned. I was skeptical of the dress-pant abilities of a company that also made the disco adventure suit, but they were an incredible deal with free returns, so I figured what the hell.
Now, you would have to pry these pants away from my cold, dead body. I wear them to work as much as socially appropriate, and have forced all of my friends feel the magic of the fabric. My skepticism has turned into awe at this company. Who are these people, and how did they know how to make my life complete?
A big part of that equation is Chris Lindland, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based BetaBrand. Chris started the company in 2004 due to an inner fire…specifically, a fire in his crotch (note: most people should go to the doctor for this). Traditionally, corduroy pants had vertical wales (rows of cord), which rubbed against each other, causing friction and crotch discomfort. He decided to fix this with the Cordaround, which has horizontal wales. Orders skyrocketed, and he sent out cleverly worded emails weekly to appease the waitlist. People wanted more, so he designed more products. In 2010, the company changed to BetaBrand to reflect a new direction of crowdsourced clothing.
Though Lindland still designs a few concepts a year, BetaBrand largely relies on a community called the ThinkTank. Anyone can submit a design to BetaBrand—in fact, Lindland points out that half of the 150-200 submissions per month come from people who have never designed clothing before. After a design is submitted, the ThinkTank community votes on it. Popular designs get turned into prototypes by BetaBrand, and at that point they can be crowdfunded into production. Average products take about five months to go through the whole process, though some sketches get turned into products within two weeks and ship two months later. If interneting is not your style, you can stop by their store in San Francisco to check out their wares.
As many have pointed out, the crowdfunding aspect of BetaBrand ensures its success. Sure, the Internet will go nuts for a poop emoji shirt, but how many will actually buy it? (For that particular product, a lot, it turns out.) The model is clearly working: BetaBrand used to produce 2-4 prototypes per year, and now the design studio rolls out that many per day. “It’s just amazing to see so much invention going on in and around our brand,” says Lindland. “Our motto ‘New Ideas Non-Stop’ used to be an aspiration. Now it’s becoming a reality.”
But back to the important part: yoga pants you can wear to work. If you are wondering if the “yoga pants” and “can wear to work” are both accurate statements, yes, yes they are. The material is a bit higher quality and therefore thicker than standard yoga wear, but just as supple and stretchy. They come in boot-cut and straight-leg in many different business-appropriate colors. (I’m 5’7, size 6 and mine are black boot-cut, size medium.) They retain the yoga-pant style by being pull-ons (i.e. pockets, fly, and button are all decorative), so those of you in finance or who have to wear actual suits are probably out of luck. But they are dressy enough that most women could easily wear these to an office, and comfortable enough that it’s not a race to take them off when you get home. They are like Uggs for your legs, except they actually look good. In an era when women pretty much never get to dress comfortably, they are a shining beacon of hope. I love them. And I’m not the only one who thinks so:
— Betabrand (@Betabrand) October 6, 2015
— Lesley Higgins (@le_diable) October 27, 2015
Moreover, BetaBrand seems like the kind of fun company you just want to support. They give discounts for submitting pictures. Their weekly emails and product descriptions are works of genius, and the multipurpose clothing really does seem more…useful (why, yes, I do need emergency pants and a reversible dress). Lindland credits this to a simple concept, “People like to purchase ideas.”