It is quite a task to set out to reinvent the classic white shirt, but Prabha Rathinasabapathy is busy doing just that. Having spent seven years cycling though London every day, she needed functional clothing that could move easily from bike to boardroom (she once specialised in urban planning at property developer Argent). Finding nothing and feeling increasingly frustrated, Rathinasabapathy decided to jump ship and become a fashion innovator. It was a move vindicated by a recent “honourable mention” in the category of “fashion and beauty” – for which her online store System of Motion was in the top 10 – at Fast Company’s 2017 Innovation by Design Awards.
System of Motion is focused on refining the working woman’s classic white shirt so that it lives up to its form-meets function promise. Finding the right fabric was key, and a major factor was selecting one that tackled the thorny subject of perspiration but also felt as good as crisp cotton against the skin. The chosen material is called “dri-tech poplin” and is quick dry and wrinkle resistant.
Styles come with bauhaus-inspired names – Walter (£95), a boyfriend-style shirt; Ludwig (£95), a slim-fitting number; and Paul (£110). The latter, named after Paul Klee (“a line is a dot that went for a walk”), comes with a playful twist – wide sleeves that can be transformed into narrow at the pop of a button. Walter and Ludwig are also available in blue and a blue-and-white stripe.
New to the range are shirt dresses: Anni (£130) and Wassily (£150). The former, with a boyfriend cut, is best worn over jeans; the latter works as an elegant desk-to-dinner dress, good with a belt. Now she has perfected the hard-working woman’s white shirt, all Rathinasabapathy needs to do is refashion the little black dress…