Seattle Brand Brings Super Soft, Sustainable Basics to Bellevue Square
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“Basic” gets an undeserved bad rap—getting a lot of air time is far from a flaw. Basics, too, often get ignored by designers looking to make a splash.
But Seattle-based Proto101 has built a brand around them—and it’s working. The company launched online and in Pacific Place in 2020, and just opened the doors to its second location in Bellevue Square.
Proto101 aims to perfect the garments that make up your daily “uniform,” per cofounder Liyin Kok—not the evening gown you wear once, or that flashy sweater that only pairs with a few items in your closet, but the tees, tanks, and hoodies in constant rotation.
Kok says that she and cofounder Rafael Soto, industry veterans who spearheaded private brands at Amazon Fashion together, "saw this amazing white space for well-designed, high-quality garments" with an emphasis on fit, details (like hidden pockets for keys and earbuds), and, of course, materials. Namely, durable, breathable, ultra-silky supima cotton. "When you touch that, and then you start to feel other T-shirts in your drawer," Kok says, "you're going to notice it immediately."
The materials are sustainably sourced, of course. And the brand plants a tree for every item sold. But the likelihood you'll wear Proto101 garments over and over again makes them better for the planet, too. Repeat customers are a testament to that. "The best review is that your product stood up to their test," Kok says.
The lineup is, perhaps, more extensive than the word “basics” implies: detailed joggers, flowy T-shirt dresses (with pockets), and high-waisted, wide-leg, french terry pants also earn 5-star reviews from Proto101 customers: “These pants are the most comfortable pants in the world,” one review reads. “It might be the perfect dress,” gushes another customer.
Expansion to the 1800-square foot Bellevue location comes at a time when the brand is looking toward the future. This summer, Proto101 will reveal new polo designs, crop tees, and some oft-requested shorts. Come 2024, Kok hopes to add denim to the collection.
But they’re still dedicated to keeping things simple. "Those are the things that you reach for every day," Kok says, "and you want them to be perfect."