When it comes to industries that are ripe for disruption, outerwear sits somewhere around the top of the list. Visit your local outdoors retailer or search the web for winter wear and you’ll find most jackets rely on last century’s technology, if not even older. Fleece. Down. Wool. Snooooore.
OROS, an outerwear brand out of Seattle, Washington, is offering the public an upgrade in fashion/fabric technology.- a proprietary version of an aerogel developed by the clever folks over at Nasa.
Where did you first get the idea to bring aerogel technology to the outerwear mass market?
My sophomore year of college, I climbed a mountain in the NE Swiss Alps. I looked like the Michelin Man with all my bulky gear. I remember thinking that there had to be a better way to stay warm by now – there was no way we still had to rely on animal by-products, like goose down, to say warm. Back in school, I received a scholarship created by the Mercury 7 Astronauts (called the Astronaut Scholarship). Through that scholarship, I learned about aerogel, this material NASA was using to insulate in the -455F temperatures of space. A lightbulb went off in my head. And here we are 7 years later – an incredible team, amazing tech, great investors, and one fast growth company.
What kind of aerogel is SOLARCORE? Do you have a supplier that provides you with the materials
The current SOLARCORE tech is based on Amorphous Silica aerogel (same aerogel used by NASA in spacecraft).
How much warmer is SOLARCORE than other forms of insulation currently available on the market? Is it even comparable?
It’s CLO value (and R-value) are significantly higher than all insulations we’ve tested (over 250 insulations – synthetics, foams, natural insulations, etc). However, it’s biggest benefit is it’s lack of dependence on loft or bulk. All current insulations need loft to work. That is why most jackets are so puffy – they require airspace (“loft”) to work. Without it, they lose thermal performance. SOLARCORE doesn’t need loft to function – it maintains its thermal performance under compression, with no airspace. With SOLARCORE, you can have a thin amount of insulation that actually provides significant thermal value.
The Gemini Modular Jacket is really easy on the eyes. It’s got nice clean lines and doesn’t go overboard on the frills. Also, it looks like it weighs just a little heavier than a windbreaker. Can you discuss how the Gemini Jacket was designed?
We started OROS with the Orion Parka. It’s been called the warmest jacket on earth. It’s an incredible jacket, but it’s not something that has immense versatility. We wanted to make a product you could wear in the winter, but also in fall and spring – one jacket to rule them all. So, we created the Gemini.
How has the reaction been to your jackets, past and present? Has there been demand for next-gen insulated jackets?
We have sold out of most of our styles every season and have product return rates drastically lower than the industry standard of 20% – positive traction that we get excited about!
Do you have any plans in the future on expanding your collection beyond outerwear?
Absolutely. Long term, we will transform insulated consumer products as we know it. Apparel, accessories, equipment, and maybe even space suits.
Lastly, how can someone get their hands on the Gemini Modular Jacket?
We are live on Kickstarter today. Check out the Gemini campaign at http://kck.st/3qWSxlG.