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The Lab Coat Project - Designed By 1000 Researchers

I think we can create the best lab coat in the world, together.

Why should we accept ill-fitting, boring, non-functional and potentially unsafe lab coats as the norm when we're spending a large fraction of our lives in them doing invaluable research for the world?

The Lab Coat Project is using a data-driven approach, crowdsourced from over 1000 STEM researchers like YOU, to design a lab coat at an affordable price that you can look and feel great in.

Why we need this - from the founder

How this lab coat will be different

Why are lab coats white?

A quick Google search will come up with all kinds of answers ranging from cleanliness to status symbols. They are easier to bleach and cheaper to make, but they also limit self-expression and contribute to the perception of inaccessibility of certain professions.

Doctors and others in clinical settings overwhelmingly wear white lab coats out of tradition. Some clinical professions have abandoned white coats altogether because studies have shown they can cause anxiety in patients.

But if you’re a chemist, microbiologist, engineer, or anything non-clinical, you can choose any color you want! Unfortunately, only a few colors like blue and black are easy to find (for now). If you could design your own lab coat, what color would you choose? Let us know below!

8-minute feedback form

Who are these 1000 Researchers?

Chemists and Biologists are well-represented

The most important segregation of the data is in the type of work the individual does. Instead of separating by field, which can range widely in type of work, we focused on the lab environment in which they use lab coats. The two biggest categories are what we’ll call “Wet Bio” and “Wet Chem”, followed by “Medical” and then several other varied types of work generally not involving hazardous liquid chemicals.

Our data is heavily skewed toward wet chemistry and wet bio/life science work. These are the fields we originally had in mind and are happy to start our journey there. We aren’t trying to create a lab coat for physicians, but hope that it can be used for some clinical research where appropriate.

How They chose their lab coats

“Go pick a lab coat out of that box” tends to be a common phrase on the first day in the lab. It leads to all kinds of problems and frustrations in fit and function. Half of our respondents didn’t really get a choice, or were never encouraged to go out and find the best lab coat for them. 30% were at least able to choose a size through their lab’s pre-established sourcing channels, and only 10% went out and found one they would love. 

We want that 10% to turn into that 50%. To do that, we need The Lab Coat Project to grow by word-of-mouth. Let your colleagues know they do have a choice, and we are keeping that choice affordable for an individual to buy if necessary.

How their lab coats were purchased

Starting this effort, we were concerned individuals may not even be able to purchase our new lab coat due to rules restricting them to their existing wholesale contracts. It would be nearly impossible for a small company like ours to get into any of those contracts without a track record of success in lab coats (kind of like when all your entry-level job options require “5 years’ experience”).

Thankfully, only 43% of our respondents are forced to use their institutional suppliers. This gives us hope that we can perfect the lab coat and build up testimonials with individuals before approaching these wholesale distributors later on.

Functional Design Choices

Bonus Features You'll Love on a lab coat

Loops, holes, belts, pockets

Pockets come out as the #1 need for new lab coats! More on that next.

I’ve tried a lot of lab coats with belts. Almost all of them are useless. Many lab coats even have non-functional belts designed in! Why?? We have some ideas we’re actively working on to let you tighten the waist without having annoying belt flaps flopping behind you as you walk. 

Over 40% of respondents also want better skin protection from chemicals. By using a knit cuff and a convertible closed collar, we should accomplishing this. 

It looks like at least 20% are still using wired headphones. I used these every day in my lab and I know the struggle. If it’s cheap enough, we’ll add a small slit near the phone pocket to run your headphones inside the lab coat to keep them from catching on things as you move. 

Trends from the “other” responses include side-access zippered pockets, hanging loops at the neck, pen holders on both sides (for lefties), and knit cuffs.

Pockets, Pockets, Pockets!

Everyone loves pockets. Why don’t we have more of them? The pocket design also matters. We need varied sizes and shapes, rather that two giant squares, to hold phones, notebooks, tablets, jewelry and even PCR tubes.

More specific data on pocket choices show the biggest needs. Phones are pretty obvious. It’s nice to have a loop to hang safety glasses on. If you store them in an inner pocket while you wear the coat, you end up looking quite lumpy. 

Pipettes should normally be always kept in the fume hood work space, but the reality in many labs is that one expensive pipette set needs used in multiple locations so they must be carried around. We’re working on a hip loop that would hold a pipette at an angle and off to the side where it won’t bump around as you walk. If it makes you feel a little ninja, we did a good job. 

Surprisingly tablets didn’t get much love. In the medical field, many of the high-end coats include dedicated tablet pockets that physicians use to check records and record notes. Most scientists just don’t use them. We’ll make sure at least one outer pocket is wide enough to hold an A5 notebook, which should also accept a standard iPad. 

What happens next?

We'll be making prototypes through a local seamstress who works for a major fashion brand. This will help us nail the placement of the features like pockets, loops, and the belt.

We should get our first manufacturing samples in the summer of 2022. It might take several rounds for the factory to get it just right. These will be used for our Beta testing program to ensure the sizing is correct and our new features work as intended.

The first run of lab coats will be about 2000 total. This might cost us up to $40,000 up front. So, we'll want to run a pre-order campaign to cover as much of that cost as possible. Stay tuned to our email list and social media for updates!

FAQs about the launch

YES! We love data, and more of it will help nail the sizing and give us ideas for new versions to make in the future.

Take the 8-minute survey here.

Prototyping is starting in May 2022. We won't launch it until we really believe in it. That could be around the end of 2022 if things go smoothly!

Sure! Leave your email and check the box for updates in the survey, or sign up for our monthly resource email below. We'll also post small updates on our social media accounts (@geniuslabgear).

You're amazing! For this project to succeed, we need to grow support without advertising costs. The two best things you can do are:

1) Link to this page from your website or tell your favorite blogger or university newspaper to get in touch about running a story. These help the page show up in Google when others are searching for lab coats.

2) Share this page on your social media pages, with a link if possible, or else with tagging us @geniuslabgear!