High-End Scrubs? How a Former Nike Exec Sees the Future of Medical Apparel
The lyrics to the hit TLC song “Scrubs” were originally supposed to be “I don’t want no scrubs that are boxy and unflattering, and made from an uncomfortable and unsustainable material,” but the producers didn’t think it was catchy enough.
But enough “Behind the Music” facts.
A former Nike executive is starting his own medical apparel company, taking some of the lessons he’s learned from one of the world’s premier apparel brands to the uniforms and workwear sector.
Lago, formed by Michael Tang, who most recently served in Nike’s corporate strategy department, will incorporate sustainability practices and high-end design to compete with other burgeoning uniform companies like Figs.
Figs has been getting attention from medical professionals for its scrubs that feature modern design elements like jogger pants and fashion-forward tops. They’re a far cry from the basic scrubs you picture at a hospital.
Keeping up with modern manufacturing ethics, Tang says that Lago’s factory is affiliated with the UN’s Internal Labor Organization, and has been conscious of diversity throughout the company’s ranks.
According to its website, each set of scrubs is made from 14 recycled plastic bottles.
A full set will run around $100, which is steep for scrubs, but when you think about it, it’s not that crazy. For medical professionals who wear scrubs every day of their lives at work, they want something comfortable and functional, but they still want to feel fashionable whenever possible.
Products like Lago and Figs should continue gaining in popularity in the uniforms market. But they’re probably not going to fully eclipse the cheaper and more one-size-fits-all designs that exist for purely utilitarian reasons. While Figs focuses heavily on design elements, Lago has made sustainability the focus, creating an alternative to the mass-produced cotton or poly scrubs.
Just as uniforms in other sectors change with times and taste, health care will do the same. It’s not going to go full streetwear, but people with such a physically demanding job will want something that feels good to wear. If you can look good while you’re doing it, why wouldn’t you?