My Week With an (Artificially) Moth-Eaten Shirt


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In 2019, I picked up a used pair of shoes from Satisfy’s Salomon partnership at a resale shop in Echo Park, which is when I first learned about the French running brand. (For some reason, the prior owner had Sharpie-ed out every portion of the shoe that wasn’t black, but it still worked.) I made a mental point to keep the brand in mind after being impressed by some of the intelligent design elements, including the rubber dots on the laces that make them less likely to come undone.

A Satisfy employee in Paris tells me through Zoom that MothTech, the company’s initial “technology,” was created back in 2015. As the name implies, it was influenced by the moth holes that Satisfy’s founder, Brice Partouche, used to discover in old cotton T-shirts. Contrary to what experts claim, Partouche appears to have a significant predilection for running in cotton, which “soaks swiftly and dries slowly.” He actually enjoys seeing the “visual manifestation of effort” in the form of sweat stains. He began to question whether the ventilation provided by the holes in his old band t-shirts, though. The investigation that followed led to MothTech. ( To make it more obvious, the name was changed from Moth Eaten to MothTech. Essentialshoody

When I first opened the package, I noticed that these items were in fact full of obvious holes. The upper half of the garment is covered in them all over, and some of them are bigger than my fingernails. I remember a Satisfy representative telling me that the holes’ location was determined by months of “strategic body-mapping research,” in which brand employees and pals went running and recorded where sweat spots appeared most frequently. He showed me the resulting chart and stated, “As you can see, we took this very seriously.” (The brand’s reasoning for the $130 price tag includes this study, the increased costs of utilizing organic Portuguese cotton, and extras like a secret key pocket.)

With a run outside in the sun-bleached brown color with “Inner Trip” written across the chest, I formally begin my MothTech experience. This year, I’ve been running a couple of miles in Prospect Park every other morning because I reside in the Brooklyn neighborhood of South Slope, which is nearby. There is rain and a 49-degree temperature. I initially assumed that this shirt actually was made of cotton. I only exercise in lightweight polyesters and meshes, as is typical on these DriFit, moisture-wicking days, so the extra bulk was apparent. (It is also a bit thicker than a typical cotton shirt.)

Other than that, I really enjoy running in it. I felt warmer and cosier in the cold because to the organic cotton’s superior softness and warmth compared to mesh. The holes do seem to make a difference, though, since sweat patches aren’t developing even as I approach mile two, even if I’m cautious about getting into anything too early. I experience a customary sweat patch on my lower back at the end of the run, but not the one I often experience on my chest. However, it’s too soon to pass any conclusions. We’ll see what transpires when I visit the gym tomorrow. Essentials hoody

In order to use up her guest passes before the end of the year, my friend Krithika, a member of the Chelsea Piers Gym in Boerum Hill (very complicated), has invited me to work out there with her sister and our friend Elena. My friends are responding differently to the shirt I’m wearing today compared to yesterday. Elena is put off by the holes, Krithika thinks it looks nice, and Krithika’s sister worries about the thick cotton. I decide to use the treadmill to run two miles. I’m once again conscious of the cotton’s weight, and regrettably discover that in the climate-controlled indoors, the cotton seems more distracting than it does anything to keep me warm. However, I don’t feel

I registered for an 8 a.m. spin class at Equinox since the trial offers group exercise sessions, and I wanted to test MothTech in a setting where I would find it to be actually difficult. I once again become aware of the increased weight of the shirt during the session, which only had six other riders, half of whom left without completing the cool-down, but this time it is not uncomfortable because the air conditioning is running more vigorously here than on the gym’s main floor. This class makes me sweat a lot, and even when I’m not wearing my customary temperature-regulating, really light Ten Thousand shirt, I still feel perspiration afterward. Once more, I saw sweat patches on my lower back and tummy but none on my chest or upper back, which I must ascribe to the holes.

I’m on the last day of my Equinox trial, and I tell Justin at work that I can’t really justify the expense because it would also require traveling to our office building on the weekends. He informs me of the Crunch Fitness discount offered by our employer, and I am thrilled to find that certain locations include saunas. For that evening, I organized a guest pass at a Brooklyn location. Tonight, though, I choose to work out in a thick cotton shirt without the ventilation holes of MothTech in an effort to establish some sort of control variable. My face is drenched in sweat by the ten-minute point of my treadmill run. The shirt is stuck to my back by the 20-minute mark and

I make the decision to complete this experiment with one more run through Prospect Park. Even though it’s 50 degrees outside and windy, all of the other runners on the loop are wearing long sleeves and running sweaters. Once again, I discover that the thick cotton of Satisfy is sufficient to keep me warm. (It has a tiny draught, but it’s more refreshing than bothersome.)


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