“Q&A with Christopher J.”
How it All Begin: The Story Behind CJA Apparel
Can a T-shirt really change the world? The jury may still be out on the answer to that question, but it’s one that is at the core of Christopher J. Apparel (CJA) and its mission.
Chris Coriale, the company’s founder and owner, explains why he started his company — and the ways in which he wanted to set himself apart in the fashion industry… starting with a t-shirt. It began in 2016 when Coriale got the “itch” to start his clothing business out of the discomfort of other undershirts.
“As a product of growing up in the Northeast, where it snows seemingly half of the year, I wore undershirts my whole life,” he says. “I have never had an undershirt that fit properly or felt comfortable though. Traditional cotton undershirts shrink, get tight under your arms, and ultimately, pull out of your pants due to shrinking and their lack of elasticity.”
As a life-long solutions-seeker, Coriale set out to find a comfortable undershirt that fit properly and when his searches continued to come up empty, he decided to design his own, which is literally engineered to be amazingly comfortable.
At this time, he also wanted to start a business that was outside of his familiar field of technology. Being from New York, he’d been exposed to the fashion industry and the waste it creates. Once again, he knew he wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem.
“I thought that if I could create a more sustainable product that was domestically made, I could help to combat fast fashion, which is the cheap, foreign-made products we buy every day at our favorite stores that are actually made to be thrown out in six to 12 months so that we can buy more next year,” he says.
Determined to create an undershirt that fit properly and didn’t contribute to fast fashion, Coriale chose to manufacture his first undershirt from a Tencel and cotton blend that not only moves and stretches with the body but is sustainable too. Tencel is luxuriously soft, very durable, requires a fraction of the amount of water to produce and is actually biodegradable — so consumers can actually compost their old CJA undershirts! The material is also made with fibers that are naturally antibacterial and moisture wicking, leaving the skin cool and dry.
“I spent the better part of the next three years perfecting our undershirt, The Manhattan, so that it fits properly, stays tucked in, isn’t baggy, and is so soft, you’ll never want to take it off,” he says, adding, “We’ve changed the pattern many times, tweaking every part of the shirt, from making the arms just long enough to catch the top of the bicep to tapering the shirt for a more slim fit and making it long enough to accommodate shrinkage so that it remains tucked even after many washes.”
After much dedication to this process, in 2019 CJA was officially launched with a new website and marketing initiative for The Manhattan perfect men’s undershirt. The company has since grown to encompass additional merchandise — with new items and lines in the works every day!