The Phase Series: Biobased & Recycled Fabric
Romy Koles and Boman Caldwell in the Design Lab. Salt Lake City, UT. Photo: Kevin Kinghorn (@kevinkinghornphoto)
In case you missed it… We’ve co-developed an incredible textile finish that offers competitive wicking properties with the petroleum-based inputs it replaces… and it’s petroleum-free, with a 80% lower carbon footprint than a traditional wicking finish.
In order to fully give life to this technology, our textile selections would be just as important as the performance of the finish itself. Soon it was time to explore material sourcing…
Innovate Under Constraint
Most artists, musicians, and designers will agree that some degree of intentional limitation can result in greater, more innovative outputs. As our lab-coated Swiss chemistry collaborator Matthias Foessel puts it, “constraints foster innovation.”
Our own goals - and constraints - were numerous.
First off, we set out to create a cutting edge, versatile line of active apparel, designed for the WNDR Alpine community and equipped with our miDori® bioWick finish to provide industry leading moisture management and comfort.
Additionally, we set a goal to construct this apparel with the highest possible percentage of biobased and recycled content for use in conjunction with miDori® bioWick. Simultaneously, we set out to uphold high standards of comfort and durability.
It’s one thing to develop products to uphold just one of these constraints, but it would take a meticulously selected composition of material inputs in order to reach all of them.
So Romy Koles led the charge in materials selection. For each of the apparel pieces we began working on, we selected some combination of the following materials:
Like what you see? Wait until you feel it. Salt Lake City, UT. Photo: Pep Fujas (@pepfujas)
Tencel Derived from Wood
What’s softer than Tencel? Not much. We selected renewable fibers derived from raw wood pulp, using a closed loop production process to drastically reduce water & chemical use.
By utilizing a blend of this bio-based Tencel, recycled polyester and elastane, we were able to achieve a lived-in hand feel in our prototypes that testers didn’t want to take off - or wash. Good thing Tencel naturally repels bacteria, too.
Castor Oil Based Nylon 10,10
Using castor oil based nylon 10,10, we were able to uphold our core philosophy of using biobased materials with no sacrifice to performance. Our hands-on development approach working with a trusted world leading supplier made this material one-of-a-kind.
What’s more, Nylon 10,10 has high tensile strength and excellent abrasion resistance, making it an excellent material for living your life to its fullest.
After our successes with SpiralMade™ materials in our skis and boards, we naturally had to explore recycled material inputs as part of our apparel discovery process.
Any apparel you plan to play in needs a little bit (or maybe a lot) of stretch. Utilizing recycled ROICA Elastane from Asahi-Kasei means we can reduce our footprint and environmental impact and source materials from a trusted materials supplier.
Recycled Nylon is highly abrasion resistant, extremely durable, and the performance is unmatched in the world of synthetic fibers. By choosing constructions such as double weaves, we were able to build pieces that were soft next to skin, while having a more durable outer texture.
Recycled Nylon for excellent abrasion resistance. Salt Lake City, UT. Photo: Pep Fujas (@pepfujas)
The Icing on the Cake
So what was the point of meticulously selecting this glorious palette of responsibly sourced biobased and recycled fabrics anyway?
Well, simply put, combining these textiles with our petroleum-free, microalgae-derived miDori® bioWick finish delivered some stoke-inducing results.
Testing wicking properties. Muttenz, Switzerland. Photo: Flo Schweighofer (@flo.sndum)
We tested the textiles in Switzerland and at our Design Lab in Salt Lake City with the finish applied, and witnessed incredibly fast moisture wicking. In completed apparel prototypes, this would translate to rapid drying, excellent temperature management, and supreme comfort.
Next, it was finally time to bring these prototypes out of the lab and into the real world…