Are you fashion forward? When it comes to innovation, give me the ‘wow’ factor

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Fashion innovations have to give me the “wow” factor.

Innovation is a great thing. Innovative ideas and products help make our lives better by helping make us healthier, and by helping in times of crisis. Innovation also helps make us safer. Innovation make workflows more efficient and helps secure both our personal and professional data. It seems that innovation is prominent everywhere, except in the apparel space. The manufacturing process involved in producing clothing and accessories can be very innovative, but the products themselves have been lacking innovation, (or as I call it – the “wow factor.”)

Even though I see a lack of innovation in the apparel space, there are some innovative products that solve common problems – as well as make me say “wow.” Three such products are the Mission Belt, Untuckit shirts, and CozyBug pillowcase dresses.

The Mission Belt.

Aside from having a philanthropic mission as the anchor of the company, Mission Belt has an innovative system that keeps a person’s pants at their waist while continuously looking clean and well maintained instead of the eventual wear and bulging one may get with other belts. First let’s start with the mission. Mission Belt donates one dollar from the sale of every belt to Kiva, a peer-to-peer micro-lending institution, to give micro-loans to people without access to traditional sources of capital. Of course, the primary reason one may purchase a belt from Mission Belt would be the product itself. Mission Belt adjusts without the use of holes, which allows it to be adjusted in tiny increments of ¼ inch. The belt has a unique locking system which makes it less likely to crack under stress and the belt adjusts with the user for the most comfortable fit, (even if size changes). There is also the option of mixing and matching buckles and leathers to make one’s own unique combinations. Mission Belts are available at the company website.


I love to wear button-down shirts untucked and it has always been difficult for me to find any that could be neatly worn that way. The button-down shirts that I always had were designed to be tucked so they ended up having extra fabric that resembled a tail. This of course was not the look that was intended and appeared a bit messy. Chris Riccobono decided to change all that. Chris loved to wear his button-down shirts untucked and in fact had almost 40 in his closet – but only 1 that he could wear untucked. Chris was not the only man with this problem. Aside from his friends, he found a survey that revealed that 90% of men who responded owned only one or two shirts with the correct length to be properly worn untucked. So Chris started his mission to create a button-down shirt designed to be untucked by launching UntuckIt in 2010. What is different about the Untuckit shirt is that it has a contoured hem line that is designed to fall halfway between the belt and the bottom of the zipper. This allows comfortable access to the pockets and accents the pants. Untuckit shirts offer both ‘regular’ and ‘slim’ fit. At last, a button-down shirt that looks nice untucked. The Untuckit shirt is available on the company’s website.

Cozy Bug Dress.

Having kids that are of the age of rapidly outgrowing clothes can be a challenge. We are always looking for clothes that are rugged, stylish, and that fit correctly. People who have girls will be happy to find out that such a product now exists. Aly Lessor is a mom on a mission to make the standard southern pillowcase dress more stylish and also make them something that can be worn for many years. Aly has succeeded by not only creating dresses that are stylish but that also grow with the girl. The redesigned pillowcase dresses have adjustable straps, which allow them to be adjusted to the girl’s size making it wearable for longer than with the standard design. Aly’s design led to the birth of Cozy Bug, which in addition to the adjustable pillowcase dresses also sells leggings, turtlenecks, jackets, tutus, pants sets, and hair bows. All products can be found on the company’s website.   

It is nice to see that there are companies continuing to innovate and offer fresh perspectives to make our lives better by improving what we wear.  

Raymond, New Hampshire native and former Manchester resident Brian Chicoine is co-founder of UrbanRebel 1636™, a Rhode Island-based art and design way of life start-up. A 1990 graduate of West High School, Brian attended college in the city before moving to Rhode Island to complete his undergraduate degree. Brian’s original plan was to “learn and leave” but fell in love with both his now wife, Jackie, and the state so decided to stay beyond graduation.

After they were married, Brian and Jackie lived in New Hampshire for about five and a half years, during which time their two boys were born. Brian and Jackie then returned to Rhode Island with their two boys and eventually started UrbanRebel 1636™. Brian and Jackie have recently realigned the company’s strategy and are developing an exciting new product line that will be introduced in time for the 2017 re-launch.

 Brian has merged his passion for entrepreneurship and innovation with his love of new and bold ideas to bring the reader a fresh perspective on the people and products helping drive the economy. Brian and Jackie live in Providence with their two boys and their cat.

About this Author


Brian Chicoine

Brian Chicoine is a New Hampshire native who moved to Manchester from Raymond in 1980. While a student at Notre Dame College here in Manchester, Brian transferred to Rhode Island College in Providence, where he met his now wife, Jackie. Brian and Jackie spent the next 20 years living in Providence and Manchester, returning to Manchester with their two sons, (who are proud Manchester natives), in the fall of 2017. Brian, a 2020 state rep candidate, and his family intend on staying in Manchester and are committed to helping make it an even better place to live, work, and play.