Monday, December 21, 2009

Sifr Essentials: Another travel photo essay.

Just a quick recap on another trip with regard to our Essentials range.

Before receiving our shipment last week, I had to shuttle down to Jakarta to check up on it's production progress. This usually involves minor quality control, sewing details, making sure price tags are placed correctly, packing, etc. Very minor details are ironed out at this point. The smaller the order, the shorter the production time. Our production took about 2 weeks which meant that there wasn't much of a lag. As soon as production started, we were preparing for the latter parts of the entire process.

Above is a photograph of the fabric loading area. As you can see, the fabric is placed in the area marked off with red tape.

Fabric was then laid out and cut. Above are all the panels that have been bundled so as to keep account of production quantities.

The T-shirts are slowly assembled on the sewing lines. Because our order was so small, we were allocated only one sewing line (1 line has about 12-15 machines).

It's worth mentioning that after the panels were cut, the back panel was sent to the printers. If you've noticed this time around, the tees do not use a woven label. We decided to go with a screen print to eliminate any pulling from shrinkage, etc.

You'll also notice that Sifr Essentials actually take on their own identity in the form of a slightly more premium basics line that's suitable for our weather. The line has a separate direction from it's sister line. Both however, combine all the elements important to people and reflect our commitment to this project.

One more thing. We hate garment washing. The manufacturers despise it as well. The problem with Garment Washing is trying to control shrinkage. Controlling fabric shrinkage to meet the measurement spec is one of the toughest jobs of any production process. Different fabric shrinks differently. Jersey shrinks quite unpredictably as well. Jersey in different colors will also shrink differently from color to color. When you have a basics line with 11 different colors, that usually translates to perpetual migraine. This means that the manufacturer might even need to create different patterns for certain colors. Some patterns might be a tad bit bigger or smaller than the others so that all colors shrink accordingly to meet required measurements.

I feel the migraine slowly creeping in just writing about Garment Washing. There aren't any photos from the washers since we're always fully focused on the task at hand when down there.

Luckily enough, we were able to get about 4 different paper patterns for all the 11 colors so as to keep all the tees within measurement tolerances. Plus or minus, the tees are all pretty much within the measurement spectrum. Most of you will not notice that most of the tees out there on the market (other brands) are not pre-shrunk. This is to avoid any hassle on their part in trying to meet the correct measurements after wash. Majority of the time, you're purchasing a t-shirt that will look much much different after 1 wash than it did initially when trying on for size. Interesting point; take note of the classic Lacoste polo and the next person wearing one. You'll most likely notice that the garment is well above the wearer's waist. It just keeps rising.

Back to the photos.

Here's a great way to combat shrinkage issues at the waist. When assembling the garment, they allowed a lot of extra length at the waist for washing allowance. They then secured it with an overlock stitch. After washing, the garment naturally shrank but not as much as the allowance given. Therefore, a trimming station was set up to open the overlock stitch and then trim the allowance by hand. It was then passed on back to the sewing line to close. With that technique, they were able to perfectly match the length measurement that was required specific to each size.

You're probably already aware that a lot goes into making even the most simple of garments.

On to quality control. You'll notice the red arrow stickers in the photographs below. That's to indicate problem areas.

All the problem pieces from the QC department are then sent back to be fixed up.

Right after is pressing. Notice here that to get the most crisp final product, an ironing cardboard pattern was made that applied to each size and style. The pattern is fit into the t-shirt and then ironed to get the most perfect shape and measurement. This is a very uncommon practice in manufacturing but since we were paying premium prices, we got the works.

Off to the packing department...

And voila...

When you do get your t-shirt, make sure to show it some real care and consideration. A lot went into the making of that specific piece. Pay attention to the little details, the top stitch on the round neck collar, the smell of fabric softener, the top stitch along the top of the armhole, The silky soft feel of the fabric in an uncommon weight, etc, etc. These are what make this garment a lot more special than your average basic t-shirt.



Shane Lim said...

Absolutely love your "behind the scenes" post. A very interesting insight into the manufacturing process. Says a lot about your passion and dedication to the brand.

Keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

Great read! Love to know what's behind my new essentials tshirt, been spreading word as best as I can

Suraj Melwani said...

Thank You guys. Thought we'd make it a bit more transparent for you lot. It must be nice to know where your clothes are coming from.

I will keep them coming.