La Manufacture invites visitors to the backstage of manufacturing swimwear, gives advice in regard to its proper care
The visitors of the STYL trade fair will have a unique opportunity to familiarize themselves with the nuts and bolts of swimwear production. They will find out why a high-quality product cannot be cheap and what are some of the things they should look for - from the viewpoint of the manufacturer, the trader, as well as the end user.
“The goal of the La Manufacture project is to explain the entire development process of creating a swimsuit step by step, from the inception of the design and choice of materials, all the way to the individual production processes and the inner workings of the required machinery. In our exhibit, we have special machines with costs in the hundreds of thousands. They require a skilled crew to maintain and in the context of the current decline of vocational education, the textile industry’s situation on the labour market is absolutely catastrophic,” said Martin Kárych of the company Altra, the author of the La Manufacture exhibition.
For the project, it was easier to provide the expensive machines than to find an expert who could demonstrate how they operate. Even so, the project gives a clear idea of the many necessary processes that play a part in creating a swimsuit and are inevitably included in the final price of the product.
“Knowing which fabric to use and how to process it is of utmost importance in creating a piece of swimwear because every type of fabric has distinctive qualities and exhibits unique behaviour when put into the machine – and the machine is not so simple to set up. That’s why the manufacturers often prefer to use materials they have past experience with and don’t just focus on the design. Another crucial aspect is the balance of the various components. It is not recommended to use low-quality rubber in combination with an expensive kind of fabric that will long outlive it. On the other hand, it is equally advisable not to ruin first-rate rubber with low-cost textile from Asia that’s going to degrade and lose colour,” says Martin Kárych. In Europe and the USA, polyamides enjoy the greatest popularity, owing to the fact that they retain strength dry or wet, are long-lasting, as well as abrasion resistant. And most importantly, they dry much quicker than the polyester fabrics used in Asia and South America which are better suited for print, with their softer variants often used in swimwear as lining.
And what should you look for as the consumer? A swimsuit’s lifespan can be greatly extended with proper maintenance. Giving it a quick rinse in water after every wear is essential; an important thing to avoid is e.g. leaving it in a closed bag in a car on a hot day. Polyamides are very durable, but they can be damaged in contact with rough surfaces or temperatures over 120 °C. One of the more common issues is the degradation of the elastic bands sewn into the piece’s hem or shoulder straps which is caused by the use of sunscreens, as the oils contained in them gradually eat away at the rubber band. Long-term contact with chlorine in swimming pool water is more threatening to the colour and elasticity of a bathing suit than the salt in sea water. Still, the greatest danger faced by a swimsuit is inappropriate storage in a plastic bag and the adverse effects of sunscreen oils on its rubber bands.