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An Innovative Dress Shirt Company From a Man Who Hates Dress Shirts

Crafted by a founder who couldn't stand traditional dress shirts, &Collar breaks new ground in men's fashion with its innovative shirts that blend the ease of sportswear with formal style, all while making a positive environmental impact.

April 25, 2021
by Lee Benson

AS SEEN ON

When he was 13 and living with his family in Hong Kong the following thought occurred to Ben Perkins: Why, he wondered, could he play a 90-minute soccer match and feel perfectly comfortable in the athletic jersey he was wearing, and yet, when he put on a dress shirt and sat in an hourlong air-conditioned church meeting, he felt like a stuck pig?

Then came his epiphany: Hey, why not make a dress shirt out of the same stuff as my soccer jersey? He decided to start a company. He called it “Wicka-Sweat,” designed a logo and asked his older brother Derek, who spoke Mandarin, to help him contact manufacturers in China.

China was where Nike, Adidas and other makers of the relatively new and revolutionary breathable synthetic athletic jerseys, with names like Dri-FIT and ClimaLite, were sourcing their material. Also, it was right next door. 

A few companies sent him some samples and quotes, but the minimum order was 5,000.

“My allowance didn’t cover making 5,000 dress shirts,” remembers Ben. Wicka-Sweat was out of business before it had a chance to begin. 

Fast forward six years later, when Ben, who had gotten so good at soccer that the University of Kentucky gave him an athletic scholarship, decided after his freshman year to interrupt his schooling to go on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He was called to the Philippines, a place as hot and humid as Hong Kong.

“There was not a single time I felt cold,” he says.

Wearing the standard missionary uniform of tie and dress shirt, he silently suffered for two years. When he returned home and dumped his dingy, frayed cotton shirts in the dumpster, he decided the time was right to revive his old Wicka-Sweat idea.

Why does &Collar have over 15,000+ 5-Star Reviews?

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Why Choose &Collar?

1. Truly Stain Resistant

Whether you need a cool party trick or protection from stray drinks or sauces, approach life (and food) with confidence!

2. Sustainably Made

Each shirt is made with recycled plastic bottle fibers, so rest easy knowing you're cleaning the wardrobe and the planet in one fell swoop. 

3. Super Stretchy and Wildly Comfy

From taking naps to climbing peaks and everything in between (aka normal life,) we've got you covered.

Maybe his time had passed, but “I figured there were a lot of missionaries going out that could totally benefit from an athletic dress shirt,” he says.

By now he had transferred to Utah Valley University, where he’d also been given a soccer scholarship. Selling his new line of dress shirts was something he’d do on the side.

He raised enough money via Kickstarter to invest $20,000 in his new business, almost all of it going for product. The bedroom in his Provo apartment was stacked to the ceiling with dress shirts. He marketed them online and through word of mouth. They went out the door very slowly, in ones and twos.

When he traced the provenance of his sales, “it was always a relative,” says Ben.

But then, somehow, a missionary mom in Ogden heard about these shirts suitable for the tropics and said she needed 10 of them for her son who was leaving for Barranquilla, Colombia, in two days.

Ben drove to Ogden to personally deliver the order.

Before he knew it, his shirts were all the rage among the Barranquilla missionaries, who started ordering them en masse. Word was out: These shirts were cool.

The positive feedback caused him to think maybe his part-time business could become his full-time business. When he graduated from UVU in 2018 he and his friend and marketing director, Jordan Larsen, decided they’d give it a try.

Their goal: To make the world’s most comfortable dress shirt — breathable, stretchy, wrinkle-free, stain-free, doesn’t come untucked, wicks away sweat — and with an added humanitarian twist. Since the material is all man-made and synthetic, they decided they would use only recycled plastic.

"The Best, Jerry, The BEST!"

"My goodness, this shirt is awesome. Super breathable, feels great, and I never have to readjust the shirt at my waist level. THAT is a huge win. I absolutely hate regular dress shirts where they are always coming untucked. Also, I got some grease from a burger on the shirt and it came right out after one wash."

– TANNER T.

Super stretchy,
wildly comfy.

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How &Collar is Changing the
Dress Shirt Industry

“You read every day about all the plastic in the ocean and landfills and even on streets as litter,” explains Ben. “We thought, ‘OK, we have enough plastic; let’s use plastic that already exists.’ We have to pay more for recycled plastic, but we’re trying to be stewards not only of men’s wardrobes but also of the Earth.

“Let’s not only make the best dress shirt in the world, let’s make the best dress shirt for the world.” Every shirt is equal to 15 plastic bottles taken out of the oceans, waterways and landfills. They dropped the name Wicka-Sweat and named their company &Collar. At first it was Blue and White Collar, but that was too wordy for an effective logo and marketing campaign. Essentially, &Collar is a company that makes athletic jerseys and puts a collar on them.

Each year they’ve been open, even during the pandemic year of 2020, business has increased by a factor of 700%. Besides Ben and Jordan there are now eight more full-time employees.

Ninety-percent of sales are online (andcollar.com), the rest in retail stores (&Collar is in Mr. Mac and other LDS missionary emporiums), with the hoped-for possibility of getting into national chains down the road. They have also expanded into ties, pants, socks and shoes.

And their clientele is no longer exclusively missionaries.

“At first missionaries were very much the base,” says Ben. “But we’ve started to see a lot of growth in urban areas, Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles. We haven’t been able to keep up with demand, we keep stocking out. As we continue to evolve and grow we can get to the point where we can serve as many as possible. There’s a lot of men in the U.S. and we want every man to be wearing this.”

At 26, the dream he had as a 13-year-old has finally become a reality.

That realization brings a smile.

“The whole reason this company exists is because I hate dress shirts,” he says. “We make dress shirts for people who hate dress shirts. I think that’s most men, realistically.” 

"Lightweight and Breathable"

"A friend recently recommended &Collar because I travel often, mostly to hot climates. This is my first shirt and I am pleased with the quality. It is lightweight and although made from recycled water bottles, it is very breathable. I spilled some water on the shirt and it just beat it up and rolled off the shirt also has some stretch/flexibility to the fifth, which is a nice bonus."

– DANIEL L.

Find out why &Collar is the last dress shirt you'll ever need.

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Shirt Talk: Unpacking the Cool Features of &Collar Dress Shirts

Welcome to &Collar, the place where dress shirts got tired of being uptight and decided to loosen up a bit. Imagine if your gym clothes and your classiest shirt had a baby – that’s us!

Bacopa

Cat's Claw

Huperzia Serrata

Oat Straw

Huperzine A

1. Breathability and Comfort

Our shirts are like a cool breeze on a hot day - but for your body. Perfect for those who want to feel like they’re in the Bahamas, even when they’re in a board meeting.

2. Stretchability and Fit

Do the twist, turn, or the hokey pokey. Our shirts stretch like they’re auditioning for a yoga class, ensuring you’re comfy no matter how you move.

3. Wrinkle and Stain Resistance

Wrinkles and stains fear our shirts. They stay crisp and clean, saving you from embarrassing coffee spills and the ironing board blues.

4. Eco-Friendly Material

Every shirt is a hero cape in disguise, saving 15 plastic bottles from an oceanic adventure and turning them into your wardrobe staple.

5. Style and Versatility

Suit up for a date night or dress down for a Netflix marathon. Our range has every color and style, for every occasion, mood, or TV series.

6. Durability and Maintenance

Our shirts are like that one loyal friend – always there, easy-going, and low maintenance. They last longer and ask for less, making your life a tad easier. Machine washable and requiring minimal maintenance, they're the practical choice for the modern man.

Loved By 150,000+ Customers

"We love all things &Collar! My husband loves the shirts he got and tells everyone he knows about how breathable and comfortable they are."

Stephanie S.

Verified Buyer

"Best dress shirt I’ve ever bought. By far.
Having the option to choose between slim or athletic allowed me to find a shirt that works with my body. Looks just as good as my most expensive dress shirt."

Josef G.

Verified Buyer

"As a bigger guy who sweats a lot especially at functions, I wore this shirt for the first time the other day without an under shirt and it was perfect. My shirt was soaked under my blazer but you couldn’t see it through the shirt. Dried so quickly too."

Robert G.

Verified Buyer

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