Traditional fabrics vs. technological fabrics.
Traditional fabrics are becoming a thing of the past and they are giving way to new technological fabrics, even within the fashion sector.
But still, part of the industry and its professionals continue to be stuck in the repetitive and comfortable use of standard qualities, acting as if everything was still the same and without analyzing the advantages that new options present. The fashion brands that have done it and have invested resources in I+D+i during the last few years are starting to reap the business rewards of what they have sown in their stores in the form of increased benefits.
Until not so long ago, whenever there was a need to hire a specialist or technician for a position related to the management of fabrics or of final products, for test purposes, the candidate was asked to touch and feel several fabric swatches or ready-made garments. He was immediately asked what its composition was in terms of dominant fibers in those fabrics. Nowadays, this procedure doesn’t make sense; it is inevitably associated to the past.
With technological developments in the production of fabrics and materials engineering, with the onset of innovative microfibers and new combinations of natural and synthetic fibers– see trend in this article — we have gone from working with a few basic qualities to an amazing number of alternatives in terms of composition, weight, densities and finish with increasingly “better craftmanship” and better behavior, movement, “hang” and “look”.
Going back to the candidate, this new situation in the sector fades his chances of a real hit, and he would be forced to appeal to his intuition and luck in a greater proportion than to the certainty that he might get from his technical and academic training, or his experience.
Right now, if what we want to know is the make-up of a fabric, the logical and professional thing to do is to look directly at its references or the garment’s composition tag and confirm it. This is what we need to do if we have a deep and true knowledge of the industry where we work as well as of the numerous options of fabrics available. Doing the opposite, unless we are checking out the feel of the fabric, is like working hard to do calculations with the mind when now we have different means to do it faster and more accurately.
Fashionable fabrics = I+D+i
Every year I have the fortune, and above all the pressing professional need, to attend the two main and most important fabric fairs in the world, at each of their stages, Premier Vision Paris and Intertextile Shanghai, and I can assure you that the evolution and development of fabrics that I have witnessed in the last three years is greater than that of the previous twenty years.
Many American, European and Asian companies (mainly from Korea and China) are investing increasingly more resources in the investigation, design and production of more complex textiles for the manufacturing of clothing items, home textiles or an endless range of new applications in different industries and sectors.
For this reason, the past few years have witnessed a constant rise of new kinds of special fabrics, including technical and “intelligent” fabrics, for an increasing number of applications, from sports to the military, from medicine to work safety, from agriculture to construction, and of course they have reached the fashion industry.
This boom is the result of a true technological revolution in the textile sector, driven by multinational chemical companies, textile, industrial machinery companies, investigation and innovation centers and universities. The industry has relentlessly become more technical and modern, and for that reason all the companies resort to development centers to obtain information and new technologies, through collaboration contracts, which they will “pour” into their products.
While the main initiator was the sport textile industry –we will analyze it in future articles—innovation is impacting even the most mature sector, the fashion apparel fabrics. As the world of fashion is becoming more sophisticated, it is increasingly more versatile, the client is more demanding and the market demands new materials to surprise them; the rise of new fabrics is constantly being stimulated.
New fabrics and fashion.
Along with more traditional fabrics, the new textiles are increasingly more present in the world of “fashion”, where investigation couples perfectly with design.
Cotton, linen, silk, viscous and their possible combinations make up the traditional range of fabrics that go together in versatile forms with other new textiles created by the boost of I+D+i.
For example, nowadays there are leading companies in the fashion industry that have developed a series of fabrics through some processes called resinning, lamination, pearlescent, plastisole, with which they have achieved wet and drip effects in cotton, silk, organza and nappas.
International fashion brands have introduced to their designs fabrics and materials stemming from sports, making their casual t-shirts, pants and footwear more comfortable and easy to wear. They have amazed their clients with new characteristics and features in their garments, providing an increased feeling of comfort, reinforcing the purchase decision and giving the brand a sense of unruliness within its sector.
Other designers and international figures have showcased collections manufactured with combinations of cotton and other fabrics created from recycled bottles and fishing nets, in such a way that technology and the natural world come together to produce a series of basic, marketable garments, which at the same time are highly versatile.
Sita Murt, a designer, has researched her basic product, the knitted fabric, and has mixed cottons and natural linen with polyamide and polyester threads to obtain consistent textures such as three-dimensional honeycomb.
New technologies, the relevant breakthroughs in materials engineering and the improvement of synthetic fabrics’ quality are constantly providing us with new textile options to manufacture our garments. These fabrics are more versatile, more comfortable, with multiple features that provide increased comfort to the user and represent the quota of novelty and innovation that clients must be offered by fashion products.
It is our duty and commitment as sourcing professionals to be up-to-date in order to incorporate these new alternative qualities into the creative and production process of our company’s garments.
In the next article, we will analyze the new fashion trends in terms of novelty technological textiles.
See you in the next post!