Breathing Blazers – Baubax vs. Ministry of Supply Aviator- Products Mark Likes
For my entire life, I have run hot. So 20 years ago I was an enthusiastic early adopter of breathable wicking athletic apparel made most popular by Nike and their DryFit line. These products made athletic activities like skiing, running and hiking much more pleasant.
For years I have found it puzzling that these technologies are not incorporated into business wear. Especially as work is more mobile and active. Walking Desks, walking meetings, and biking to work are realities for many people. Dashing to make flights or meetings in my cotton and wool clothing is hot and constricting. Showing up to meetings sweating and self conscious, does not present the image anyone wants.
So it is with great delight that these products are starting to come to market. I want this category to succeed but it is worth noting that I bought these products and am not a part of any promotional program.
Baubax Blazer. Born out of a fabulously successful Kickstarter campaign funded by people such as myself, the Baubax blazer is a high quality unit. The material is thick and looks like fine wool or silk. The fit is tight – Trevor Noah suit coat tight. To me it looks like I bought the wrong size. I run between a 44R 46R and the size chart suggested an XL . However it is so tight I strongly considered returning it. It is between a 43R and a 43L, but the material stretches to maybe a 44R. The Baubax arrived in a box very wrinkled. After wearing it twice and hanging it up for 2 weeks, it is still very wrinkled. That is not great for a travel jacket. The Baubax comes with lots of features – too many in my view. Fortunately most are removable. The blazer hood, a ridiculous look even when it was popular, zips out. The hand warmers, which makes putting on the blazer a 45 second frustrating process, button out. It also includes a very nice detachable head pillow which I might use someday, but I doubt it. The Blazer comes with cheap wool-ish gloves, a collapsible water bottle (like what they give out at trade shows) and a little key-chain pen. Not sure why. Sadly, I think everything but the blazer will be in a landfill is a few weeks.
Styling is a very narrow lapel that looks good now, but will be out of style in a few years. That is fine as future iterations will be much better. Baubax has functioning buttons on the front and sewed-on buttons on the sleeves. Side vented in the rear. Fully lined with a nice material. Lots of pockets which was a major selling point for me. Importantly it will hold and iPad Air, which is my preferred device for conferences. Unfortunately, the Baubax is so tight that the pockets are nearly unusable. At $150-$200 depending on when you bought it, it is a great deal.
Ministry of Supply Aviator II is lighter, stretchy, and more of a casual sports jacket. The Aviator would work for business casual, but not for a business dinner at the Four Seasons in a major city. It is a business blazer, but is also has some soft-shell aspects. The material beads rain and the seams are taped. This is the one you want if it rains. The “CobraX” buttons are more functional but less dressy. Importantly these fasteners makes it impossible to alter the Jacket (they are snaps more than buttons). However, it does make the jacket stay shut, which can be great for rain, or moving quickly with a backpack. It is unlined with a rear vent. The side pockets zip shut, but are small. Not sure why you need zips. The inner pockets are few, and only one will hold an iPhone 6 Plus. At $350 it is over-priced.
Comparison. The Baubox is thicker, more dressy, more traditionally styled and looks much more upscale. It warmer, but does not breath as well as the Aviator. It would work for an East Coast trip in the spring/fall. In terms of appearance and functionality it is the Baubax. The Ministry of Supply Aviator is very light weight. It better for the Summer, but could be used year round in warm climates. In terms of flexible and breathable – it is the Aviator no contest. Also you can try on the Aviator is you are in San Francisco or Boston.
I will be keeping them both and look forward to feature versions from these and other suppliers.