There is a long production process behind every product that you purchase in a shop or online. It starts with the farmer and ends inside our wardrobe. But what happens in between? We are going to explain how jersey is made and how our jerseys get their unique prints.
Jersey is not a single type of fabric but an umbrella name for fabrics that are knit in a certain way (right-left-bonding). That is why jersey can be made of different materials such as cotton, polyester, and wool. Some elastane is often added to the fabric mix to make it a bit more elastic. The elastic quality makes jersey a nice and comfortable material to wear and it is why it is often used in clothing.
People started to wear jersey around 1916 when Coco Chanel was the first designer to add the fabric to her collection. Before then, jersey was only used for underwear. Chanel started a real fashion revolution! The fabric became hugely popular and we can no longer imagine a wardrobe without it. The same goes for King Louie. The King Louie collection includes jersey items such as dresses, tops, skirts, and blouses.
Your garment starts with the sheep roaming in the fields, at the cotton plantation, or in the factory when the jersey is made of synthetic fibers. The raw material is harvested, woven or spun to a thread and then knit or woven to become a length of cloth. Woven fabrics generally have no stretch but knit fabrics (like jersey) do.
The jersey fabric is usually dyed (unicolored) or printed (prints) before the garment is sewn. So how does this process of dyeing or printing of the fabric work? And when to use which method? We visited our manufacturers in Turkey to show you how our home-designed prints come to life in the factory.
You can dye and/or print fabrics to obtain the colors and color combinations you want. There are various printing and dyeing methods, such as rotary screen printing, reactive printing and discharge printing. How do they work? And when to use which method? We'll explain this based on some of our different prints. Please know that it can be somewhat technical!
Do you want a unicolored fabric? Then the method is simple. The fabric (or yarn) is dyed.
A rotary screen printing machine can be used when you want to add a print to an entire piece of fabric. How does such a machine work? Printing the fabric requires several stages. The manufacturer receives the prints and designs from the design team. The print is first drawn in the computer and the required number of colors is established. The selected colors are indicated with Pantone color codes. The print is then transferred to screen rollers, whereby every roller gets its own color. Rotary screen printing can be done with a machine that has a maximum of 12 metal rollers that roll across the fabric. Each roller is given its own pattern element of the print and the color it needs to give. You can use a rotary screen printing machine for both reactive printing and discharge printing.
Reactive printing involves printing a pattern on a white fabric base. Whether the inside of the fabric also gets ‘printed’ depends on the thickness of the fabric. With thin fabrics, the color can seep through the fabric, all the way to the other side. This generally happens with the woven fabrics like the Carioca print. Jerseys are generally somewhat thicker fabrics, making it harder for the dye to reach the bottom layer of the fabric. This means that the bottom side of the fabric remains white. This happens with the Namaste print group, for example.
When the fabric is first dyed in a unicolor and then printed (with a discoloring ink), then this is called discharge printing. An example is the Little Dots print. The entire length of fabric is first dyed red after which the white dots are created by discoloring the red ink with discharge ink. Sometimes, the discolored parts are given another color, which can be done by adding a color pigment to the discharge ink.
When do you opt for discharge printing (dyeing first and then discoloring) and when for reactive printing (printing on white fabric)?
The choice is based on three factors: the size of the print, the complexity of the print, and the number of colors that the print contains. The colors become the brightest when they are printed on white fabric. Our design team, in consultation with the manufacturer, decides on the most suitable printing method to get the desired result and to obtain the most beautiful print. Because we use many detailed prints in many different colors, we often opt for printing on white fabric. Another example of such a print is the Bahama. When the fabric for the Bahama print would first be dyed in a light red color, after which the flower print is then added in light blue, purple and light green, the colors would never turn out as beautiful and bright as when applying the reactive printing method.
Stripes can also be printed on fabrics but this method is not often used. Most stripes are yarn-dyed stripes, meaning that the yarns are first dyed in the selected colors after which the striped pattern is knit or woven. The Lido print is an example of a printed stripe while the Gelati is a knit stripe. Stripes can be knit on a jacquard machine whereby the different yarns (five different colors for the Gelati, for instance) are manually placed on the bobbins.
The final step in the printing process is color-fixation. Fixating the colors ensures that they stay beautiful for a long time, and it increases the lifespan of the garment. Every step of the process of knitting, weaving, dyeing and printing is carefully carried out and, apart from all the machine work, much of the work is still done by hand.
Manufacturing and printing the fabrics are just parts of an elaborate process before the finished garments enter our shops and your wardrobe. It all may sound simple, but there is much more to it than you would think. One thing is certain: it requires a great deal of craftsmanship!
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