Thursday, March 24, 2016

not twee TWEEDY

Menswear inspired Coco Chanel to adopt tweed as her medium of choice.  During the 1920's the Duke of Westminster sported tweeds, and after borrowing his clothing, Chanel became convinced tweed embodied a sophisticated quality that was quite modern, spontaneous slubs of bright colours against darker tones adapted easily to her, now iconic, designs. Initially, Chanel worked with a Scottish factory to produce her tweed textiles. Since 1924, tweeds have been a permanent fixure at the house of Chanel, and Karl Lagerfeld's brilliance has devolved around transforming, expanding and deconstructing Chanel's vision including perennial inclusion of tweeds. Chanel Ready to Wear A/W 2016 exemplifies his ability to transform and update Coco Chanel's modernity, including designs which are constructed in terms of scale and detail to photograph well, no surprise since he is a photographer. see:

Although Chanel tweed was originally manufactured in the Hebrides, tweed production was later moved to small ateliers in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, France. Chanel’s lightweight tweed has been created in the French atelier of Maison Lesage. 

Amanda Harlech, who has curated Lagerfeld's work describes him: ‘‘Karl’s eye is like a magnifying lens: he reads people like an X-ray or a shaman[...] His alchemical eye has sublimated tweed at Chanel. He has reinvented tweed. It can be woven with ribbons of cellophane, re-embroidered with silken threads, shredded and dusted with fragments of light, hand-painted, overlaid over prints, unwoven and rewoven into magnified holes, or remixed into an apparition of tweed.’’ see:
photograph: Chanel A/W 2016 ready to wear

Initially produced in the Outer Hebrides in the 18th century, crofters often recycled worn out knits by introducing coloured mungo (similar to shoddy both of which were recycled, mungo being from cleaner clothing sources including knitwear that is shredded) slabs into the yarn as it was spun. Tweed, essentially a rough twill, insinuated itself into aristocratic country, those, including Prince Albert, purchasing Scottish estates in the early & mid-19th century. After Prince Albert designed a Balmoral tweed, estate tweeds became a necessary accoutrement for aristocrats. Since both employer and employees wore their estate's tweed, it transcends class, despite contemporary perception. Early estate tweeds originated from the black and white Shepard check (sheep herders) according to the historian of tweed, Edward P. Harrison. Marled yarns with slabs of various colours appearing later did indeed provide hunters with some camouflage. 
photograph: Chanel A/W 2016 ready to wear

photographHarris Tweed weaver at his Hattersley loom, Wikicommons

Thursday, March 17, 2016

spinning wood into gold

Manufacturers producing organic textiles (primarily cotton) are certified according to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the number of whom continues to increase annually. In 2014 3,814 facilities were certified, and interestingly, India heads the list of countries with the largest increase in GOTS certification in 2015, followed by Europe. Germany ranks third in the total number of GOTS certification. For an interesting survey of organic cotton, see:

According to the Organic Trade Association's recent Organic Industry Survey, the market for organic textiles is rapidly expanding, partially resulting from the 2011 US Department of Agriculture's policy requiring companies labeling their textiles as “organic” to certify their products to the US organic food standard or GOTS. "The figures show that GOTS is credible and independent certification of the entire supply chain is an important driver for the business case for sustainability--in contrast to mere self claims," said Claudia Kersten, GOTS Marketing Director. 

Cotton prices continue to increase--in 2011 it was dramatically higher due to the massive rains and flooding in Pakistan and other countries which destroyed cotton crops the previous year. Climate change continues to exert  effects on agriculture in the midst of shifting to organic cotton cultivation. 

While the use of cotton generally continues to decline as a result of cost and consumers' ethical and environmental concerns, Nordic countries are reactivating wood pulp mills which had declined over the past two decades. Anxious to meet increasing demand for replacing cotton with viscose, fiber from timber, the Nordic forestry and pulp industries are increasingly viable, especially as manufacturing now conforms to environmental regulation. Additionally, Ikea, Hennes & Mauritz (H & M) Filippa K, and other Nordic firms would like to source locally to meet their own sustainability goals.

Rowan felted tweed, alpaca, wool & viscose content

Global output of pulp for textiles is expected to grow by 30% by 2020 in anticipation of increasing demand for viscose and lycel, as cotton production peaks (and of course water is the primary culprit in production, even if it is organic) according to Oliver Lansdell at forest products industry consultancy Hawkins Wright. No coincidence that the Norwegian firm producing yarn for hand knitting, Drops, already has a cotton/viscose yarn available.

photograph: INDIGITAL speaking of tweeds, see Chanel knits from ready to wear A/W 2016 collection (love the grommets!)

photograph: INDIGITAL Chanel knitwear, grommets & wool from ready to wear A/W 2016 collection (more grommets)

Altuzarra A/W 2016 wool knit with leather