Looking across the dark mahogany table at the attractive man sitting opposite, so suave and sophisticated in his crisp white shirt, fitted across the shoulders, and giving a slight hint of a chiselled chest underneath, I couldn’t help but think… “I wonder if he knows I can see his navel?” And that’s the thing with shirt gape. It doesn’t discriminate between men and women, slim or overweight, tall or short. In off-the-rack clothes, we all have the potential to be showing more than we would like.
After spending at least a quarter of my working life in meetings, often opposite someone appearing to have a nervous twitch from the constant furtive tug at the gape at tummy, boobs or waist, an idea was born. When confidence is essential to performing our best, and yet so many people, myself included, aren’t comfortable in our ill-fitting clothes, I figured we could do better. My quest to fix this problem had begun. I just didn’t know yet that it was going to be at a snail’s pace.
I am nothing if not a procrastinator. Instead of having a seamless progression from idea, to prototype, to production, I had the idea, shelved it for a few years, moved country, changed industry, had a baby, and still the idea hadn’t progressed from infancy. Indeed, it wasn’t until I had my second child that I found the motivation to actually do something with the idea. That is not to say that my second child was easier than the first, or that having two children somehow created more free hours in the day than having one. Both are undeniably untrue. I believe the reason I was motivated so much more after having my second child was that I was reasonably comfortable in my ability to keep a small person alive. I didn’t have to meticulously measure her weight from week to week, because I could tell she was getting bigger. I didn’t even need to graphically describe the colour, shape and consistency of every poo with absolute precision to any willing listener, although I often did that anyway, just to make them cringe. But ultimately, I think that the real reason that I was motivated to do something with my second child was that my maternity leave stretching in front of me seemed like both a godsend and a curse in equal measure. Whilst I am a procrastinator, I am also most happy when I am busy and challenged and I wasn’t feeling enough of either during my maternity leave. It takes all sorts, right? I thought and thought about what I could do to achieve my balance, and I kept coming back to this gaping problem that I had noted years before.
I wanted to be able to enable people to tailor their off-the-rack clothes to their own bodies, without damaging their clothes using pins. I wanted to make sure that a person could feel confident in their appearance, enabling them to present the best version of themselves. I also wanted to not spend every waking moment thinking about sleep; my children’s or my own.
After numerous hours trawling my local hardware store for inspiration, I thought that a great and really strong, yet temporary, way of holding items together without damaging the fabric would be to use magnets. Cue more visits to the hardware store to try to bend metal over magnets, visits to my local craft store to melt plastic over magnets, and basically creating a product that looked like a mutilated paper-clip. As the pictures below show, my skills do not lie in either DIY or craft. One notable experiment resulted in meltable plastic floating around inside my oven, not adhering to the magnet, and instead soldering itself firmly to the oven door. Not to be thwarted by my complete inability to produce a basic prototype, I realised I would need help.
I found an amazing group of industrial designers who are considerably more skilled at everything design, and whose oven doors surely don’t have any un-intended additions permanently attached. One or two meetings later (and three years, but let’s not dwell on that, I still had to keep the small humans alive after all) we are finally ready to take my beautiful idea to market. StopTheGape is a product for both men and women, and can be used on any button-down shirt or dress, wherever the wearer needs it. It tailors your existing clothes to you, and stays in place all day long. It won’t damage your shirt like a pin can, and it is completely undetectable to the outside world.
As if actually launching the business isn’t enough excitement for one week, and because who doesn’t like a challenge, in the second half of this week, I will be attending MAGIC in Las Vegas, listed as the most comprehensive fashion marketplace in the world. We aren’t exhibiting this year, but what an amazing opportunity to discover the latest in apparel and accessories for 2019. And in Vegas baby! Watch out for more updates from Vegas throughout the week!
In case it isn’t obvious, we love the product, and are really excited to be bringing it to you. I had planned to launch just after Mother’s Day, which seemed strangely fitting, but as I have mentioned a couple of times, I am a procrastinator. I am also a perfectionist. This shows in the products, which are amazing, work perfectly, and can be pre-ordered through our website.
Celebrate the small wins when they come. Celebrate the big wins even more. Getting to launch is a big win for me.
Till next time, StopTheGape.