Sep 30, 2016 >> #5MinutesWith Ministry’s Head Honcho
MINISTRY co-founder GIHAN AMARASIRIWARDENA started making headlines earlier this year when he ran a half marathon donning a suit. Not just any suit though, an artfully-crafted, optimally-designed Ministry suit. Donning the Chief Design Officer hat of Ministry as well, Gihan knew this was a marketing stunt but couldn’t think of a better way to bring the company’s manifesto to life. And thus, we’re left with this question: Navigating trends and fast fashion is a fickle situation, and with it comes an even more troubling situation: At what point must comfort be surrendered for aesthetic?
Ministry isn’t even entertaining the thought. They craft classic workwear silhouettes for men and women with a purposeful, human-centered design process. They study how people move throughout their day. From commuting to coffee breaks to—our favorite time of the day—happy hour. So comfortability is kind of their thing. Ministry’s deep understanding of the human body allows the fit of their collared shirts and feel of their tailored pants to outperform their traditional contemporaries. >>
Gihan explains that every common problem that happens or could potentially happen is evaluated in the design process. Think annoying sweat stains, pieces losing shape, restricted movement, and even expensive cleaning bills. Of course the MIT-graduate takes it even farther, researching pressure mapping to understand the ideal location of cushioning, thermography to locate hot spots, and strain analysis to understand the dynamics of how our skin stretches. Again, all in the name of comfort. We catch Gihan in between design plans for their new Chicago store to dig a little deeper into the Ministry model.
Who is the Ministry customer?
The lines have blurred between work and life, and 9-5 is a concept of the past. The Ministry Woman and Man are youthful, urban, career-minded individuals who don’t want to have to choose between being productive and feeling fulfilled—they want both in life and work.
You tout 24/7 garments—any funny stories of your wild day in Ministry?
We ended up setting the Guinness World Record for the fastest half-marathon run in a suit! Does that count?
You’re on the road—a lot. What’s in your bag?
My travel bag is about 1/3 of my wardrobe. For a three-day trip, I love having two pairs of our Going Places pants, two Daystarter Dress Shirts in grey and blue grid and stripes, and a white Future-Forward Dress Shirt which I can dress up or down. A simplified wardrobe makes getting dressed easy in the morning, and keeping it tonal with blues, greys, and neutrals makes it easy to mix and match.
above: A. AESOP DEODORANT // B. MOLESKIN NOTEBOOK // C. MINISTRY DAYSTARTER SHIRT
D. ADIDAS TAKUMI SEN RUNNING SHOE // E. WARBY PARKER X1 SUNGLASSES
What’s the ultimate faux pas?
We’re not really into arbitrary rules, but there are some guidelines that do help make getting dressed painless—and we try to build our system the same way. Above all, fit is number one. A lot of times people opt for something too loose because it is less restricting and cooler, but with our fabrics we’re able to create fits that really complement the body, while still enabling extreme movement. Second is essentials. You wear about 50% of your wardrobe 80% of the time. We believe those should be the pieces that look great no matter what! Third is coordination. When you keep your color palette simple, mixing and matching textures and styles is very easy and effortless.
So Why Chicago?
Chicago has always been one of our top cities for us, and ever since our pop up at The Wit Hotel in 2014, we’ve been looking for a reason to come back!
Any Windy City hot spots you’re excited to be near/try?
Pizza at Gino’s East. Not a lot of deep dish out here in Boston!
Now it’s up to you to test it out. Get fitted with wares that can get you through a marathon—or at least the daily 9-5 race!—and that keep you looking darn good, too!
Ministry, 900 N. Michigan Avenue, Third Floor, 312.374.1919. And shop at Ministry.co. Plus, join Ministry on October 13th to celebrate their Chicago opening. Details here.