When we were asked to collaborate with Südwolle on producing samples with their OTW yarn technology, we knew we had to deliver something truly special. We didn’t know that nature would provide the perfect inspiration for our designs in the form of the humble owl. Or that it would lead to an exciting journey like this one…
Eva x Carola believes that everything we do should be deeply considered, functional and smart. Garments should support and enhance a person’s body and their experience whilst wearing them. We aim for materials that are made to last and are therefore an excellent antidote to today’s throwaway and fast fashion culture.
During the conception phase of this project we considered the needs of the consumer. A typical consumer not only goes to the gym, they also perform throughout the day to feel good, stay healthy and keep themselves mentally and physically fit. Feeling comfortable throughout the day gives them energy, strength and passion for all the activities they enjoy in life.
When it comes to movement we want to feel balanced and free, and we also want comfort and quality, both in what we do, as well as what we wear and how we care about our products.
Our favourite piece should therefore feel like a second skin; soft to the touch, staying with us for longelivety, and giving maximum durability. With this in mind we aimed to work with materials and create products that are built by combining the best of nature and technology.
Inspired by nature
One of the key areas we looked to for inspiration was nature. During our design journey we were particularly inspired by the owl. We observed the owl’s pattern, symmetry, and the dynamic way it moved and we realised we could incorporate these elements within our work. The owl’s ability to adapt (making it modular), its ultimate sensation skills (in terms of experience) and its incredible feather structure were a huge inspiration when designing and developing our performance garments.
We let the beautiful technology that resulted speak for itself by supporting it with modern and innovative graphic play. As with nature and evolution, each element of the garment was created to fulfil a specific need and deliver the ultimate performance.
Our creative process
Once our direction was determined, it was time to move on to the design and development phases. Our creative process follows a reversed approach. Design is driven by the data we collect and analyse during our research phase. Researching functional requirements, a material’s capabilities, and graphic design elements are all in our toolbox when it comes to the design creation and programming phases. The creative process is interactive whereby designs reflect test results and research, which are then re-initiated following design ideas.
Seamless design and development
The first step we take is selecting the yarn we want to use, and after that we select the type of machine. Questions we ask ourselves before designing include:
* What are the best yarns for the product
* What is the best gauge, double or single jersey, true mesh requirements or intarsia?
After this, we begin testing with some initial graphics. The swatches are analysed for their need for modification, their functions, and how best they can be applied on the body or product.
These results provide the starting base for the design process. The patterns are then allocated strategically onto the body or product.
The patterns and techniques are seamlessly integrated by engineering. When the tubes are produced, they are constructed into garments or product prototypes.
Yarn selection: the benefits of OTW technology
For those unfamiliar with OTW, here is a quick overview: OTW technology was developed as a more robust solution for the woven fabrics industry as a way to improve the efficiency of the yarn during weaving. The result is a higher quality fabric that delivers less piling, more abrasion resistance, more production yield during the manufacturing process and reduced mending and finishing costs usually required to construct the best worsted fabrics.
OTW is also beneficial to the environment due to the fact that it doesn’t require any chemical anti-pilling treatment, and also due to the elongated life cycle of garments made from this yarn, which makes them more sustainable in general.
Combining lessons from nature with the innovative technology patented by Südwolle group led us to engineer benefits in the areas of: performance, innovation, value, quality, durability and sustainability. What could we add to this? It was clear that combining OTW with Santoni’s technology would yield some incredible results. We discovered that it would lead to:
* Soft touch to bring next-to-skin comfort during everyday exercise
* A high quality garment with increased lifespan due to its superior piling resistance
* Durable and high abrasion resistant fabric that retains its functionality after intense use
* Improved tenacity and elongation to support movement and protection against external forces
The use of merino wool enabled us to bring a number of important additional benefits to the consumer, including insulation, moisture management, shape retention, durability, and sustainability. Crucially the fabric would have no smell, no itch, and would be naturally anti-static.
We created two garments using OTW and seamless technology:
1: Women’s SS Tee
This t-shirt is a next-to-skin performance top designed with breathability, moisture management and movement in mind. Function and aesthetic are combined via a dynamic blend of micro mesh and structures in owl inspired patterns that are engineered onto the body. Overall this provides a refined and subtle 3D effect.
* Complimenting patterns have been used at the waist, accentuating the body shape.
* At the bottom of the hem and sleeve opening a fine rib structure is used providing less restriction and increasing comfort.
* For optimal motion this high end short sleeve tee has a raglan sleeve.
* The OTW heat transfer at centre back gives you visibility during your night run.
2: Full zip thermal jacket
A full zip thermal jacket created from a blend of several 3D structures in owl inspired patterns that are mapped onto the body. The structures have a subtle raised 3D effect for thermal insulation. The combination of OTW yarn technology combined with the single jersey seamless technology in Santoni’s 32 gauge gives a refined, lightweight second skin look and feel.
* All graphics are placed in a dynamic pattern that gradually blends in size and shape, inspired by nature, applied for innovation.
* A plain structure is used at the upper body to enhance comfort, fit and aesthetic.
* A complimenting pattern is used at the upper arm and chest area. This is to enhance motion, breathability and comfort.
*A finger hole thumb opening is added to the sleeves for an ergonomic fit during your training exercise.
We learned a number of lessons whilst bringing this project to life. The major takeaways were:
1. Close partnership is key to success when developing seamless garments
Working with fine gauge yarns in seamless technology is like finding the right recipe. This involves considering the elements of each yarn and finding the ultimate combination between yarn (main and ground), machine set up and structures. With this in mind we always ensure we work in close partnership with experts, in the area of yarn, in the area of machine technology and in our studio defining a clear set of needs for the consumer. Combining the three expert areas of yarn x machine x concept results in success stories.
2. The OTW yarn performed very easily on the seamless knitting technology
By playing with different structures we were able to achieve an incredible diversity in look and feel, from looser stitches to more clean ones. Due to the fine tuning of the yarn combination and the OTW technology we could achieve 3D structural effects while keeping a soft, comfortable touch and hand feel.
We hope you enjoyed reading about our collaboration. For more information contact Eva x Carola at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CREATING TEXTILES USING VIRTUAL TEAMS
The hands want to see, they eyes want to caress - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Within our studio we love making, researching and experimenting. There’s nothing more rewarding and satisfying than closely working on new ideas with our engineering team in the Materials Experience Center. We love to do this onsite, collaboratively, and in a hands-on way. Textiles are developed round after round, being analysed, draped, stretched, twisted, touched and fine-tuned along the way.
A remote challenge
One question we have asked ourselves is: what do making, tactility and materialization mean in these uncertain times? Having both worked and lived abroad for longer periods of time we know that most creativity comes from being agile, staying connected and finding a balance between technology and the creative process. Now we have found ourselves in a situation where we can’t travel, meet up with each other or participate in our normal creative sessions, all of which presents us with a new challenge when it comes to collaborating on projects: creating textiles remotely.
During the current situation where we’re working remotely and cannot travel to the Materials Experience Center in China, we wanted to keep ourselves inspired and continue working on new ideas. We set ourselves a challenge to renew materials that are all around us. We focussed on materials like French terry, terry and fleece, which are used even more frequently now that lounge, street and sleepwear are increasing in popularity and are seen in many collections. These materials are, 95% of the time, used in a conventional way. However, we would like to see a personalized approach where structures can be engineered, refined, and detailed depending on the needs and desires of the wearer.
Our Engineered Fleece collection
This line of thinking has resulted in a collection called Engineered Fleece where we have developed the material around the ideas of comfort x beauty x tactility. During the making process we had several discussions with our engineering team about different sensations and how to create and integrate this into the textiles and the finished designs. Since we were unable to touch the textiles in person, the on-site team had to send us images and videos that were zoomed in, featuring plenty of draping and other ways of trying to convey the sensation of the material visually. Through this process we learned how to design and develop remotely and we were very pleased with the result.
The development process
We developed the engineered fleece collection by rethinking knit through a stitch-by-stitch construction. We asked ourselves: how can texture, pattern and color follow a layer-on-layer approach? This involved fine tuning from a micro perspective rather than working in a zoned way.
We also utilized seamless machinery as a continuous fabric length rather than from a piece by piece perspective. This meant we could make use of features like fine gauge, engineering and smart design. This approach not only creates new product opportunities such as upholstery and outerwear, it also creates finishing possibilities such as brushing. The characteristics of the finished fabric are: touch, refinement, warmth, a luxe feel, breathability and engineered loft created by automation.
What we learned
During the project we learned that we could make amazing innovations remotely whilst communicating 90% of the details virtually. When we received the finished textiles in the mail, they were even more incredible than we had envisioned, and touching them allowed us to imagine what kind of garments they could be used to create, and how the textile could also be used in interior design and upholstery. Although it is always ideal to have a physical connection with our textiles during the making process, it is not always obligatory and this new way of working with virtual teams has opened our eyes to the many possibilities for remote collaboration on a global scale.
The need for new textiles
Millions of people are now working from home due to Covid-19. According to newspapers like The Guardian, this could lead to a permanent shift towards working from home for many employees once the pandemic is over. Employers are realising the many benefits of working from home, such as higher productivity and savings of over $11,000 per person. Working from home allows employees to spend more time with their families, save money on commuting, live in cheaper rural areas and lower their carbon footprint. As a result of these insights, it’s estimated that 25-30 million US employees will start to work from home regularly over the next 2 years.
This rapidly growing trend means there’s a demand for clothing to wear when working from home. For efficiency and comfort, the majority of home workers tend to wear the same clothes throughout the day. But the day is still divided into different activities. This means there’s a need for clothing that is multifunctional and fulfils different needs at once.
With less occasions to dress up for, one of the major things people are now looking for is comfort. Sales of loungewear, one of the most comfortable clothing categories, have risen significantly since the pandemic started. According to the advertising company Criteo, who analysed 2 billion consumers worldwide, Australia saw a 184% rise in loungewear sales, Korea 80% and Italy 79% respectively.
But comfort isn’t the only thing on people’s minds; with a steep rise in video calls, we also want to remain presentable and feel beautiful. This isn’t only a prerequisite for online meetings, it’s also an important way to boost morale and mental health.
In addition to this, physical exercise is also an important part of the day. The scheduling platform Doodle reported a 100% increase in group meetings booked for virtual-only yoga, dance, exercise, workout, fitness, aerobics and Pilates sessions in March 2020. People are also prioritising fresh air, and time outdoors where they are exercising in parks and gardens. To cater for these activities, we need clothing that’s suitable for wearing both indoors and outdoors. The duality between indoor and outdoor needs means this clothing needs to be hybrid in nature and deliver modular uses throughout the day.
Wearing the same outfit for both sports and our everyday working life means we need our clothing to perform specific functions. For example, we need garments to offer moisture management, along with being resistant to bacteria and odour. If we pop outside to go grocery shopping, it would be great if our garments also offered protection from sudden rain spells or stepping in puddles.
Lastly, when people’s lifestyles force them to spend more time at home, they tend to focus on attractive, comfortable and functional furniture. We envision, along with clothing, a range of new fabrics for interiors that combine stain resistant and water repellent properties engineered with features such as loft, design, and support.
With all this in mind, we have developed a series of materials that fulfil the following important functions:
B) Visual Amazement
C) Safety & Protection
D) Health & Wellbeing
Key elements in these material stories are waterproof yarns, Dyneema, heat expansion yarns and anti-bacterial fibers.
On both the single and double jersey materials, we have chosen to explore lighter weight textile versions that are more suitable for mid-layer to outerwear garments when compared to what is currently in the market. On the single jersey this has been achieved by using a coarser gauge of 22gg. On the double jersey, the fabrics have been made on 20gg machinery. This is the finest available range within Santoni’s seamless double jersey technology.
Top2 Fast, 22GG
Single Jersey - Santoni Shanghai
The work from home lifestyle demands clothing that can deliver several functions at once. This requires a new kind of hybrid material that, for example, is not only waterproof but is also breathable, combining areas that are stretchy with areas that are more rigid.
Usually knitted materials are stretchy and suitable for draping over the body. With this textile we did something different: we made the material rigid and non-stretch, giving us the option of engineering both non-stretch and stretch areas.
By combining the right yarns, structures and machine set up we created a dense, woven-like, water repellent material. While retaining breathability, the material provides cover for light rainfall when outside or drink spills during a conference call.
This yarn has been engineered from the core, resulting in a longer lasting water repellent effect when compared to the usual method of creating water repellency by adding coatings in post processing. Our approach leads to a higher value product, built from the yarn up, that results in a true design element.
By utilising the engineering capabilities of the seamless technology, we can further extend the idea and areas that are partly rigid and water repellent (as per swatch), moving to more flexible and stretchy areas.
Due to the smart interplay with micro structure, the inside and outside show a slight 3D effect. This gives a beautiful embossed appearance whilst, at the same time, helping to further improve breathability.
For visual amazement, a more sustainable approach and a lighter weight result, we have been working with yarn-dyed materials and a smart utilisation of the machine’s plaiting function. The micro structures used also allow for easy personalisation and a single-piece bulk production process.
This approach leads to a versatile mid-to-outer layer material.
Other areas where we see possibilities are: indoor and outdoor furniture / home textiles, lightweight easy-to-carry shopping bags and footwear.
Engineered Visual Amazement
Double Jersey - Santoni Shanghai
Working from home shouldn’t mean we have to sacrifice feeling good about how we look. We want our clothing to feel beautiful and look visually amazing, whilst at the same time catering for practical requirements like temperature regulation.
We therefore developed a heat-tech material that could be an investment piece for the season. Featuring thermal regulation properties,
this material can accommodate both cold conditions and warming up situations.
The areas we focussed on were lightweight elements, insulation, density and form, as well as engineered water-repellent yarns to create a durable weather-proof material.
This material offers an understated, functional and comfortable solution. Both sides use water-repellent yarns with a clean surface on one side and a pixelated graphic on the other side. The pixelated graphic creates the appearance of a responsive material, with colours that give a sense of vibration and movement.
These qualities make the material suitable for reversed products that could be used for running, warming up and loungewear.
When creating the form and shape from a seamless tube, the result is an all-in-one product that avoids the need for complex processes and post engineering. Other industries this could be applied to include interiors and automotive.
Double Jersey - Santoni Shanghai
We need to feel protected by our clothing, whether it’s being shielded from bad weather or from falls and accidents. Since we’re wearing it all day for every activity, material should be durable and long lasting.
In response to these needs, we engineered a graphic focussed material with water repellent yarns on the outside that create a weatherproof layer. The inside is developed with Dyneema yarn.
Dyneema yarn creates a durable, lightweight, and versatile material.
It is extremely hard-wearing and is potentially even suitable for military or security protection with an anti stab function.
The fine gauge technology can create an image-like graphic.
Due to the stitch-by-stitch construction, this can be easily tailored into a personalised solution via a single-piece bulk production method.
The material could be suitable for applications such as outerwear, protective gear, outdoor furniture, and the automotive industry.
Engineered Well being
Double Jersey - Santoni Shanghai
To enhance feelings of wellbeing, we need to feel warmth whilst remaining comfortable via thermal regulation. At the same time, the wearer wants to feel beautiful. Since we also want to consider our health, the material should ideally protect us against bacteria.
We therefore engineered a fabric that was water repellent with anti-microbial properties, whilst at the same time incorporating a natural “second skin” feel with soft padding for insulation.
This material is created by combining a quilted structure and forming an intriguing loft pattern. It includes engineered areas of higher and lower loft. Also incorporated is a body mapped pattern that can create areas with higher or lower levels of insulation and breathability, along with areas that have a higher density or a stretch structure.
The anti-bacterial layer acts as a second skin that feels good against the body. The result is a unique material that provides us with a new source of health and wellbeing.
The outer layer uses water repellent yarns, making this material suitable for both indoor and outdoor purposes.
In addition, the material uses a sophisticated graphical design to create a feminine look and feel.
These materials are made in collaboration and with the technology of Santoni Shanghai at the Material Experience Centre.