Stitch by stitch, 3D materials are created and take on a form that at first sight does not appear textile. Use of yarn creates colour combinations that unfold with the fabric, and shapes (from corrugation to mathematical folds) show that knit can behave in ways unexpected. We can use these “abnormalities” to reimagine products such as footwear, accessories, home & interior textiles, apparel, and protection wear. From this angle, textile innovation becomes the leader for product innovation, starting from yarn-up to inspire new ideas and exploration.
Stretch & Reveal
3D knit is often created by smartly combining yarn, stitch and machine technology. One of our favourites is creating loft via locking and holding the material. This compresses the material in specific zones creating raised effects. With this method, the material can be ‘opened’, by stretch, to reveal different layers of colours and patterning. When this material is shaped around an object or stretched by movement, it reveals new details and colours that play with light and space.
Similarly, creating pleating with knitwear creates stable stretch and compression that makes the textile dynamic from different angles. Pleats are not limited in there form and can be created with different lines, directions and size to create a playful piece of textile. This is particularly interesting when creating bags, premium luxury and interior textiles.
Inspired by origami these textiles use special yarns to generate zones of stretch and stiffness. It’s an alternative way to create padded protection, in which the origami folds absorb impact energy and dissipate it through the textile.
Knitting allows us to build a material stitch by stitch, considering every element from yarn & machine to shape & form. It gives us space to re-imagine unexpected combinations out of yarn and machine technology and challenge what is ordinary associated with knit. 3D knit textiles use stitch to create textures and forms that bring about new ways of creating visual innovation and alternative ways to apply functionalities to textiles. In our Studio we have explored many possibilities over the years, exploring padding, pleats, stretch and dynamic patterning that can be used in many ways.
Some of the main uses of 3D knit are protection, comfort and cushioning. These can be knitted into a double jersey fabric using tuck, spacer-like stitches or boosting the volume with an inlay yarn. A padded sample like this, can be created with intricate patterns, that otherwise would be difficult to achieve by conventional methods such as quilting. By using circular knit, we open ourselves up to more possibilities of adding multiple functions, graphics and dynamic placement.
3D knit doesn’t have to be thick and heavy, it can be engineered into lightweight fabrics using hold structures. These samples add graphic texture by use of loft whilst retaining the qualities needed for sportswear and apparel, proving that 3D knit can be breathable, durable and have high stretch.
This padding effect can be created by smartly positioning and playing with yarn and stitch combination. Folds and volume are produced by the contrast of yarn properties, such as stretch vs non stretch, or rigid vs high shrinkage yarns. The air pockets created retain heat and when applied in an organic nature invite touch, creating a tactile experience that brings life to a textile.
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 email@example.com.