BettyConfidential: What’s your background like? How did you become a designer?
Patrick Michael: I have always considered t-shirts more of a science than an art, so I’m humbled when I’m referred to as a designer. I actually studied Electrical Engineering. From a young age, though, I worked through many different artistic pursuits—from playing and recording music, to painting, to making my own clothing. I also worked as a lighting designer for several years, lighting theater and concert productions in Michigan. I think I have artistic ADD.
BC: Where did the idea to start P-THREE Bamboo come from? Can you tell us a little about the company’s history?
PM: It actually happened rather organically (no pun intended). Through my high school and college years, I had several favorite t-shirts that I wore ‘til they fell apart. I could never find new t-shirts off the rack that compared in softness and drape to my favorite old ones, so I decided I would attempt to make my own shirts. I went to the garment district in New York City looking for fabrics and pulled countless different ones until I eventually found bamboo. At the time I could only find bamboo blends, but I knew immediately that bamboo was my fabric. I went to a tailor and had the fabric made into several basic short sleeved t-shirts. I started wearing them all the time. Then friends of mine started admiring them and asked me to make some for them as well. One shirt led to another shirt until eventually P-THREE Bamboo was born.
BC: Had you dabbled in any other sort of design before you created P-THREE Bamboo?
PM: Yes! I think I mentioned that I did lighting design for theatre for several years—I still do it from time to time just for fun.
BC: What about design drew you to it?
PM: I have always loved the process of creating. I love design that is practical, functional and aesthetically pleasing—whether be it in electronics, housewares, coffee cups, or fashion.
BC: What are the benefits of bamboo tees, as opposed to those made from cotton or other materials?
PM: First and foremost, the fabric is so soft and comfortable—it’s much softer than cotton. That’s the number one thing that keeps people coming back to it again and again. Once you start wearing bamboo, it’s really hard to go back to cotton. I had one customer try the shirt on and tell me that she never wanted to take it off again!
Bamboo is also better for the environment than cotton. As a crop, bamboo grows incredibly fast—up to 2” per hour in the right conditions. It also requires very little land and water to grow in comparison to cotton. And the plant is naturally antimicrobial—no pesticides or fertilizers are required for the growing process. Bamboo has great thermal properties and wicks away moisture, and it doesn’t discolor from sweat like cotton shirts often do.
I also only use 100% bamboo fabric. It’s common to find shirts made of bamboo blended with cotton or spandex; the blends are easier to work with during production. In my opinion, though, there is no comparison to the soft, luxurious feel of 100% bamboo.
Up next: The first thing Patrick ever made, which celeb he’d love to see wear his tees, and more!