In the ‘80s and ‘90s, the desire for innovation and experimentation created industrial treatments like marble, overdyed, dirty, sand blast and spray with hypochlorite or permanganate that became common in the finishing for play a vintage look, for years the trend of shirts…
The history of the washes of jeans is quite recent and was born in the years 1974 − 75. Before this date jeans were sold raw. It is precisely in this period that our path begins in the industrial laundry. The treatment of shirts also dates back to the late 70s. At the time there were neither the knowledge nor the technologies available today, so the only treatment that was done was a simple washing with soaps and detergents.
In the 80s, our experience progressed, and we carried out the first ’bleach’ treatments with sodium hypochlorite used to degrade the indigo and reach all the desired shades, up to almost white. The real breakthrough in shirt finishes began with the Replay brand. These were the years of the first real revolution of the ’Finishing’ in the laundry because the introduction of the ’Stone Wash pumice stone’ invented in Japan in 1975, the sand blast treatment, the spray treatment with hypochlorite, completely changed the way all denim garments were thought and seen. Washing played an essential role in the final look of jeans and shirt, as it was able to transform the image of the garment and give it added value. The Fashion Box company, with the Replay brand, focused on the finishing of denim, chambray, and poplin shirts, which is why in Martelli Lav. Tessile of Vedelago we performed treatments with stone wash pumice and then with expanded clay.
Innovation & Experimentation
In the ’80s and ’90s, the desire for innovation and experimentation created industrial treatments like marble, overdyed, dirty, sand blast and spray with hypochlorite or permanganate that became common in the finishing for play a vintage look, like the cowboy style. For years this was the trend for shirts.
The denim shirt had become a must in all fashion collections of the time and almost all brands had a line of shirts in their collections.
It was in the years 1995 − 2000, when the second great revolution of the ‘manual work’ finishing (born in Martelli Lav. Tessili of Vedelago in 1995) burst into the denim market that the shirt reached its apogee.
‘The evolution of shirts in our opinion is not yet finished because the advent of ‘activewear’ is changing the fashion world with fir and more technological fabrics’.
Following vintage and authentic trends more and more, the processes and manual techniques became extremely refined and evolved: scratches with sandpaper, cracks, embroidery, patches and mending, brushing with sodium hypochlorite and/or potassium permanganate, dirty localized with pigments they allowed us to copy the old vintage garments and create an increasingly original and authentic look.
‘Today, we can also obtain green and sustainable products for shirts, thanks to the use of modern lasers, ozone and new washing machines that reduce the amount of water and chemicals and greens used’.
The challenges & Bottlenecks
Unfortunately, the increase of all these manual processes has resulted in an increase in the cost of washing the shirt and this became a problem. To this was added the lack of personnel assigned to perform these manual processes that required a particular skill and sensitivity. The shirt, in fact, in addition to the problem of denim fabric being lighter than the jeans fabric, has a completely different construction (neck, chest in front, back pockets, sleeves with cuffs , elbows), difficult to copy and imitate compared to a vintage garment. Moreover, since it required a high packaging time, in addition to the cost of finishing, forced many brands to move production abroad.
The relocation and continuous research of the economic price have consequently led to a lowering of the product quality and have negatively influenced the spread of the denim short as a trend dress, reducing its space within the collections. Made in Italy in shirting became an elitist product, luxury and small quantities, but with a look and quality that was extremely sophisticated and innovation.
‘Made in Italy in shirting became an elitist product, luxury and small quantities, but with a look and a quality that was extremely sophisticated and innovation’.
New Technologies, Sustainable Fashion
All this lasted another decade, until the development of new technologies used in laundry in the field of finishing. The use of laser and ozone together with manual processing, which in recent years had further refined and evolved, gave a further impetus to the development of the product, allowing the production of shirts with an infinite variety of looks, from classic to fashion, from vintage to casual, thanks to the possibility to print all the possible and imaginable graphics.
Today, we can also obtain green and sustainable products for shirts, thanks to the use of modern lasers, ozone and new washing machines that reduce the amount of water and the chemicals and greens used. These treatments are carried out abroad, keeping prices under control, reducing second−choice items and increasing quality.
The development of materials and reinforcement used to follow the trends and demands of the new generation was also important. The collections of the denim fabric with composition of stretch fibers, natural, recycled and of polyester and with indigo green dyes had been enriched.
The evolution of shirts in our opinion is not yet finished because the advent of ‘activewear’ is changing the fashion world with fit and more and more technological fabrics.
An example of this is the recent agreement of the Indian company Arvind with the Italian company Directa Plus to produce a denim with Graphene. Directa Plus is one of the largest producers of Graphene in the world, which is considered the material of the future for its many characteristics: mechanical, thermal, electronic, optical properties etc.
It is a new and exciting challenge that will allow us to test the traditional finishing methods with new fibers, mixing the old, the modern and the future. Surely it will be wonderful to accept it and try to make it happen.