I realised this year, when it comes to garment and product, what is important to me and Checks is craft. From our start manufacturing in New Zealand working with local experts and the very hands-on approach required for that, to exploring working with artisans around the world. We’ve found our way back to craft and a slower approach, focusing on processes that involve the hand, rather than the more industrialised fast style of manufacturing. We are spending our energy on printmaking, hand weaving and embroidery and working with natural dyes. The vision is to merge these centuries old techniques with contemporary styling – that feels like a pretty unique position.
One of the opportunities that has opened up is fabric development, be it looming fabric from scratch or pattern development. Meaning the print that is applied to the surface fabric. It’s been a learning curve, from the methods of printing fabric – digital printing, screen printing, block printing (which we’ll show you our explorations into later), amongst others. The design of these kind of patterns for fabric is also new to us, there are specific designers called ‘surface pattern designers’ who work on these types of print for fabrics. Prints that are designed to the width of the fabric and can be repeated end on end seamlessly. The first of these original prints that has reached the shelves is the Bandana Print Shirt, this print was developed in house. The process for this print was a digital print, meaning the fabric is printed with the pattern/colour digitally on a rotary. The concept for the print was to take the iconic paisley print from a bandana and stretch this over a shirt, adding in small branding elements within the pattern to personalise it. Look for the little globes mixed in.
The shirt itself is the kind of thing we’ve made from the start of Checks, the Camp Shirt which has seen so many iterations. The graphic t-shirt of button-up shirts which serves as the perfect template for adding all sorts of prints and embellishments. Something about this version feels unique, obviously the print is special, a familiar print in a colour scheme that is less familiar. The fabric used for the print is a cotton voile – often these types of shirts are made from a Rayon or similar silky material. The voile gives it an authentic bandana feeling, tight in it’s weave so it maintains good structure but light and airy in weight like you would expect from a summer garment. The fit is interesting too, boxy and wider without being long in the body, with a dropped shoulder and deep slit at the side seam that ties it to it’s Indian manufacturing with almost a Kurta like feeling.
To be honest, sometimes figuring out these new processes can be a steep learning curve, and sometimes result in failure. Or just take forever to execute at the level we had envisaged. This shirt however came out beautifully without too much hassle. Any time you have a little victory like this it spurs on new ideas and product evolutions. We’re looking forward to developing some of these other printing methods, these processes add more depth to the product beyond some design on a shirt. Adding more layers and depth to an item of clothing that can either be appreciated at surface level or scratching a bit deeper to the different techniques and artisans involved in their production. Less of a make it fast, paint by numbers approach and more of the people touching the garment through it’s lifespan playing a part in the outcome.