There’s a pretty good chance you’ve never heard of Sivil. But if you like to get sweaty on the field or in the gym, this performance apparel start-up should absolutely be on your radar. Sivil is the brainchild of two Ohio-born, Washington D.C.-based brothers and life-long athletes, Will and Vince Simon. They’ve developed a line that they proclaim is “the most functional and technologically advanced performance shirt ever developed” thanks to “a patented CoolCore fabric.” Here’s how it works, in Sivil’s own words from their first Kickstarter campaign:
As your body heats up during strenuous activity, it produces sweat to cool you down in order for the body to reach a more comfortable state. The patented CoolCore fabric derives its cooling function from its construction, which comprises within a single layer, a multiplicity of fibers that create a capillary system, wicking away moisture from the skin, circulating the moisture throughout the entire garment, and regulating the rate of evaporation before releasing the molecules into the atmosphere. The fibers, coupled with the proprietary fabric construction, provide maximum cooling capability keeping you up to 30% cooler than any Nike, Under Armour or Adidas shirt out there. Guaranteed.
Here’s what the fabric looks like up-close:
I know what you’re thinking right now. A guarantee for a fabric that keeps you 30% cooler than fabrics produced by muti-billion dollar companies like Nike and Under Armour sounds nuts. Insane, really. It’s a bold claim; After all, those companies have some of the best Research and Development departments in the world for athletic performance. But Sivil stands by it, actually testing this claim at Germany’s Hohenstein Institute, via Kickstarter:
Our CoolCore powered fabric has been up against every leading sportswear brand in the world at the legendary Hohenstein Institute in Germany. In every instance, our shirts outperformed every major brand in cooling power, drying power, and wet cling/comfort testing. We may not be Nike or Under Armour yet, but we can guarantee that you’ll get a shirt that will keep you cooler, drier, and more comfortable than any other.
One of Sivil’s founding brothers, Will Simon, is a former walk-on at Ohio State. I recently talked to him about Ohio State, why he wanted to start his own athletic performance brand, and how Sivil’s patented technology could pose a major threat to other major players in the performance apparel space.
You played football at Ohio State, right Will? Can you start by telling us a little bit about that?
I was just fast enough to earn a walk-on spot and while I didn’t see much playing time, the experiences were unbelievable. Being part of one of the greatest collegiate athletic programs in history was a true honor. I made some amazing friends while being part of the program who are still in the NFL today and it’s crazy to see guys you were drinking out of solo cups with now playing on Sundays.
What coach did you play under?
I was actually there under Coach Tressel. The guy got a bad rap at the end of his tenure there, but people rarely talk about what a brilliant mentor he was. He had an extremely high graduation rate among players and was a true father figure to those who played for him both at Ohio State and at Youngstown State.
When you were in college, what did you want to do for a career after college?
I wanted to work in the intelligence community (CIA, FBI, etc.) I can’t say whether or not that happened or not, but I did move to DC after college and work in the defense industry and private sector lobbying before venturing out and starting Sivil.
Tell us a little bit about how you started Sivil? Creating a Performance Apparel Technology company right out of college probably isn’t the easiest thing to get off the group… How did you get into it?
Very true. I actually worked for five years in DC before getting into it. I’ve been an athlete all my life and after I started working at the US Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business association, I made some incredible contacts that I knew could help me in building a successful product and brand. I’m not a tech guy, I’ve played sports my entire life, so that’s what I know in and out. I know what athletes like to wear, I know the shortcomings of other apparel, so I knew that I could find a technology that could really speak to athletes everywhere.
You tested Sivil against major players like Nike, Under Armour, Adidas at the Hohenstein Institute in Germany. How did everything turn out?
Incredible, actually. To save you the technical jargon, I’ll just give you the results. Hohenstein put our shirts and theirs through a series of tests that measured cooling power, drying power, saturation, wet cling/comfort, and a laundry list of others. In every single test, our shirts outperformed the competition. We can say with absolute certainty that our shirts will keep you cooler, drier, and for a longer period of time than any shirt out there.
What have athletes said about using Sivil vs. other performance apparel brands?
We’ve sent prototypes to pro athletes and weekend warriors alike, and people can’t believe it when they actually get the shirt in their hand. You can literally feel the shirt cooling down when you wear it and start sweating, it’s pretty amazing to feel first-hand. One constant theme that we’re seeing is that the Under Armour and Nike shirts that they have start to stink more and more the longer they have it. This is because these brands are using chemical treatments in their shirts. Our shirts’ tech is literally built into every stitch and will never degrade meaning that it will never lose any of its performance properties no matter how many wash cycles it goes through.
Who is Sivil’s ideal customer?
Anyone who sweats! Whether you’re a marathoner, bodybuilder, yogi, etc, our shirts will make your workout more comfortable allowing you to perform your absolute best.
What does the name “Sivil” itself mean? What’s the story behind the brand?
I wish we had a sexier story, but we spent hours and hours trying to come up with names and then coordinate them with domains. We came up with Sivil as a sort of combination of the letters from mine and my brother’s first names (Will & Vince) and our last name, Simon. We thought it was a cool, short, easy to remember name that we hope will eventually become a very recognizable brand name.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for getting Sivil off the ground?
Overcoming the brand awareness of the big guys like Nike and Under Armour, for sure. These guys have huge followings and great products, but we’re hoping our technology will give us the edge in getting us off the ground. We live in a time where things like Kickstarter can help a small company like ours make huge dents in an industry, and that’s what we’re trying to do.