This week our textile guru, Jamie Bainbridge reveals the ingredients to the ultimate “fabric sandwich” and dives deep into the knitty gritty of dot matrix lamination. As our fabric goddess (part scientist, part artiste), she has had a hand in every style we make. Prepare to get smart…
For Spring, we have a few new fabrics that we’re introducing, like in the Gust Wind Shirt….
Jamie Bainbridge: That’s a 2-ply woven fabric that is actually two separate fabrics that are woven together in spots. So it’s a like a two-layer sandwich of fabric that is 100% recycled polyester. It has a yarn-dyed plaid on one side and a yarn-dyed check on the other side.
What about the Wafer Pullover? It’s so incredibly lightweight.
The fabric for our men’s and women’s Wafer Pullover is a very fine gauge knit recycled poly. In fact, the machinery that produces this knit probably came around about ten years ago. It’s the finest gauge knit you can do, making a very wind-resistant and tight face to the fabric. But you can still get a lot of stretch out of it – it’s a 4-way stretch – because it’s a knit.
The polyester laminate that we put on the back is pretty stretchy as well. And when they laminate these two things together, they do it with what is called a dot matrix lamination. Think of a hot melt glue. If you printed that hot melt glue in a pattern of little dots all over the film that you are going to laminate and you run it through rollers, the two layers of fabric are only connected at these dots. And so it allows it to be really stretchy between the dots, which helps to retain a ton of stretch. You don’t lose the stretch like you would if you laid down a solid layer of lamination.
And the men’s Guise Shirt? It’s not your traditional cotton buttondown…
Traditionally you would have gotten the puckering that you see in the Guise in a traditional seer-sucker fabric. The puckering would have come from using two different fibers that have a different shrink rate to them. One will shrink up and the other won’t, so you’ll get a pucker out of it. This fabric uses a Lycra thread running through the fabric in two different directions to create that pucker. And then of course it’s made with organic cotton.
Speaking of cotton, there have been headlines in the news about a world cotton shortage that estimate a 10% increase in clothing prices in the future. How has this affected your process?
Oh, and it’s not only cotton. All of our fibers have different stories that are affecting the pricing. I think that consumers all over the world are going to see increases in what it costs to buy the same products that they bought the year before. Some of those factors are economics, some are political, some of them are environmental. Some of the biggest factors that have affected the price of cotton are that there were these huge storms in Pakistan that caused massive flooding and complete and total loss of the cotton crop. Once that happened, the Indian government decided to keep its own cotton supply for its own domestic market because the Pakistani market was shorted. So India didn’t release any of its cotton onto the world market. And then there’s China trying to control cotton prices, which causes farmers to hold on to their crops. But there are many factors and economic forces that have created this perfect storm of higher cotton prices.
So it sounds like your job is like a giant chess game.
It kind of is!
What’s your favorite part of your job as textile guru at Nau?
It’s working with true innovation in the world of textiles. Textiles are one of the largest contributors to consumer goods and also one of the filthiest businesses out there. We have the chance to help lead the charge to clean that business up and lower its environmental footprint. That’s why I like what I do.
Sounds like you’re “doing good”?
Well, for a tiny company, it’s amazing how much influence we end up having because of our more purist take on things. But this is how we started out. We’ve never done anything different. And so when someone says, “Oh why don’t we make this in regular cotton this time, it will be cheaper.” We don’t do that because that’s not what we are about. And there aren’t that many companies that take this kind of stand. Now that we’ve based our company around it, we have to do it!
Well, I think you’re doing it.
Interview by Leighann Franson.
You, too can get close and personal with our new Spring fabrics – from now through Sunday March 6th, enter the promo code FABRIC at checkout on nau.com, and you’ll get FREE GROUND SHIPPING on your order.
Words by Leighann Franson.