Spanx on steroids. That’s how Doug Thom, chief innovation officer for Canadian innovation house Garmatex Technologies, describes the majority of so-called “posture” shirts available on the market today. In fact, when designer Mike Lara approached Garmatex with his own take on a posture-correcting tee, it took two people to help Thorn put it on.
“It was so tight!” he laughs. “I got what he was trying to do but as I told him, the materials he was using were all wrong.” Luckily for Lara, Thom and his team of self-confessed slouchers were intrigued and eight months later, the Prime4orm shirt debuted on Kickstarter.
Prime4orm is a base layer shirt for men and women, engineered to help cure the common curse of desk jockeys and chronic smartphone users everywhere by claiming to improve muscle alignment while enhancing posture and performance. “Sitting in that sedimentary state all day leads to rounded shoulders—ligaments in the back stretch out and ligaments in front shrink,” Thom explains.
That’s where Prime4orm, featuring five of Garmatex’s technologies, steps in: AbsorbSkin offers gentle tensile alignment; IceSkin is a woven technology that keeps the body cool; RecoverySkin is a 4-way stretch compression fit that promotes blood flow to key muscle groups; BactOut kills odor-causing bacteria; and T3 allows for freedom of movement.
“AbsorbSkin makes the inside of the shirt slightly tacky so it locks onto your shoulders and hips to pull your shoulders and scapulars back into a straight-up position and hold them there. Eventually the ligaments in your back will shrink and your chest will extend,” Thom says, noting that when he first tried on the shirt, he could only wear it for two hours—not because it was too tight, but because his shoulders were sore from using long-ignored muscles. “But after a few days of wearing it I noticed that my upper back pain from sitting at the computer was gone and the lower back pain I usually had when I played golf was gone, too.”
While the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has linked desk jobs and poor posture with debilitating lower back pain and a variety of degenerative conditions, Thorn points out that Garmatex isn’t making any claims that Prime4orm is suitable for people with hunchbacks or posture-related diseases. “It’s for people like me that spend a lot of time sitting behind our computers where the natural tendency is to roll over our shoulders,” he says. Pro-athletes get it, he adds, because they’re in tune with their bodies and know that good posture improves their health and performance.
Since the 30-day Kickstarter campaign launched on Feb. 24, Thom reveals Garmatex has received a lot of outside interest from apparel companies. As he puts it, “Everybody wants to be healthy and everybody wants to stand up straight.”