Tuesday, 31 March 2015

So I haven't done Textiles for about seven years and I found learning about the process of denim pretty interesting. I knew the process of cotton, grown and farmed as a plant then harvested to be spun into thread. The natural colour of cotton is of course off white but for denim, the thread is ring dyed as the dye cannot permeate fully.

To make Denim, which was originally 100% cotton but now has polyester and lycra added for stretch and softness, two threads of cotton are woven together- the Warp and the Weft. The warp which flows veritcally is dyed cotton whilst the Weft which is woven horizontally (weft = left) and this is undyed cotton. This is now the purest form of denim which we now add effects for fashion purposes. The company I worked with worked to 5% BCI Cotton which is ethically sourced.


RHT or Right Hand Twill is woven to the right and seen as more durable than LHT or Left Hand Twill which is woven in the opposite direction (and also the cause of the bottom of jeans leaning more to one side of the leg). Broken Twill is from left to right and back again and gives a herringbone style detail. Slub or Rain denim uses a mixture of fine and course yarns to create the effect of rain whilst this can also be woven on both Warp and Weft for Cross Hatch Denim.

The weights of denim mean different things and are weighed in oz per square yard or occasionally gsm (Grams per sq yard). 'Chambray' denim is very thin and only made with 5oz and often used for Childrenswear. Womenswear jeans are usually 9oz whilst Mens jeans are the heaviest at 12oz. 

My favourite bit of denim knowledge was about shade blankets where for very large bulk orders of denim, the fabric will be dyed in batches and a cutting from each batch will be sewn together to create a shade blanket. After washing the final blanket, all the shades are inspected and graded while some shades are rejected for irregularities. I can't tell you how much I'd like to have one of these little denim patchwork blankets...

Once made into jeans, the wet and dry processing can begin. Because of the white cotton weft, it is easy to create effects on denim by scratching off the outer layer of dyed fabric. Distressed patches are created by cutting the raw denim threads carefully before washing. Whiskering, edge grinding, creasing and tagging are all ways of recreating how denim naturally creases with wear. These effects are made with sand paper free hand, over moulds or even sometimes resin is used which is later washed off. Sand blasting is another method that now uses PP spray after the findings that real sand blasting caused severe respiratory disease. Towel washing, acid washing with bleach or enzymes is common as well as stone wash which used real stone to batter the denim but can badly effect the washing drums.

Farming - Spinning - Dyeing - Weaving - Stitching -Wet/Dry Processing - Washing - Rivets, Buttons and Trims.

So now I know a hell of a lot more about denim and hopefully you do too.  Thanks, Bee xxx

 PS. I recommend 'A Denim Story: Inspiration from Bellbottoms to Boyfriends' by Emily Current and Merritt Elliott as its a lovely coffee table book.

PPS. Denim originated in Nîmes, France and in french it was called 'Fabriqué de Nîmes' later being shortened to just Denim.

Friday, 27 March 2015

I did lots of collecting parcels on the last few days as everyone was very busy. I helped measure fit samples and had a great meeting about denim where we even watched a few clips about the process. I'll do a seperate post all about denim as I found it really interesting and it is the main reason the company was started.

I also helped to remerchandise the show room/office space so all the leather/fur swatches were on hangers and the bag and clothing samples neatly displayed. I love the clothes they design and wish I'd been to there recent sample sale where they sold real leather jackets for £15! I've been really jealous of everyone who has been doing wearer trials of some of the garments as I want to try them all!
Another bag meeting was held where we looked at the tech packs and reassessed the colour and swatch decisions. It was interesting trying to pick great colours that were commercial rather than colours we felt drawn to on a colour board. I shadowed one of the design interns whilst she designed some girlswear for a big supermarket brand using sequins and gems and saw all the difficulties of size when doing embellishments for childrenswear.


I'm really excited for the company after the M&S suede skirt got even more press in the Daily Mail and was even featured on the front page just above Jeremy Clarkson! Its exciting for them although stressful!

I was sad to leave on Friday as all the team have made me feel so comfortable and I couldn't believe it when they presented me with a leaving card and a £50 Topshop voucher to thank me for helping them when it is really the opposite way around! I'm so grateful for the team and the opportunity Design Denim gave me and I really have learnt so much as I never knew how much there is to learn about buying and merchandising but there was no better environment to learn than with young, kind, creative people! A massive thank you to them all, I hope to keep in touch and I can't wait for the next sample sale!

Bee x

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

I had a really interesting day on Tuesday as I worked on one of the designers computers to create a tech pack of a bag in Adobe Illustrator. It was pretty difficult to get the angles right, all the stitching in place and get my head around swatches and clipping paths after not doing it since the buying and merchandising module. The two designers I shadowed make it look really easy as they know so many tricks.

On Wednesday I had a meeting to understand the shipping and banking side of the business.

Later on, I was also shown around the M&S tracking and approval database for their buying which is where they keep track of the garment technology tests which are tested in different solutions (aqueous, acidic etc) and approved based on the percentages found from tests. This onformation then informs the care labels for the garments. The database was also used to log revised sample fits and comments up until the gold seals.

It was great to see the intellectual paperwork side of things as well as the creative aspect. My only issue is that I have developed a serious Yumm Vanilla Chai Latte and malteser addiction... its just soooo good. I've already used up my six hot drinks card so todays was free!

Bee xxx

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Thursday and Friday of last week were spent mainly working on bag research. It all started as the company are branching out into bags as the new merchandiser is a bag specialist working with brands like Kurt Geiger in the past. A meeting was held to discuss sampling some styles that are on trend, known best to sell, easiest/simplest to make and appropriate for each customer base. The merchandiser set up a brand alignment graph to show the correlation between bags and customers which was great as it helped me understand how one bag could be pitched to different customers. We had to find the perfect swatch and match it to the perfect Pantone as well as looking at books from Lineapelle trade show and choosing between real leather, PU, suede or Saffiano look.


When I arrived on Friday in my studded leather jacket and jeans, everyone was outside trying to get a good look at the eclipse which was fun and meant we started work a little later! The girls in the office noticed my leather jacket collection and even commented that I'm perfect for Design Denim as I wear so much denim and leather! On Friday, it was one of the girls, Sarahs birthday so we headed to the Crown pub for a bite to eat (a very lovely jacket potato) and had a lovely time admiring the pubs live in doggie, talking about the selfie craze and reminiscing American holidays.

Monday was a day of finishing off research but there was a huge buzz in the atmosphere as at the meeting, it was announced that a tan suede A-line skirt currently in production with Marks and Spencer through Design Denim was featured full page in Stylist magazine! The headline read 'COULD THIS SKIRT SAVE M&S?' noting that it had been seen on Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo at NYFW and previously featured in a few other magazines.

The skirt is being called the 'IT' skirt of the season and all the team felt like they'd never seen so much press about one skirt before. There is a bit of a panic though as it is a new factory and the order was originally 250.... its now 4000!

May your moon and stars align,
Bee x

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Tuesday I helped the merchandiser Polly with a massive amount of delivery. As well as samples, there were tags, labels and stickers for specific orders which had to be sorted between the various factories in different foreign locations. It took a while as there were quite a few orders to double check and seperate. She also showed me her excel critical paths and how she updates them and sends them to the factory and customers usually once a week. She showed me how she made up the care labels which are particularly sensitive with childrens garments.

 I also learnt a lot more from the Garment Technologist about REACH which restricts the toxins etc within fabrics and what can be brought into the UK from the percentages. It is all a health and safety precautions.

Wednesday was exciting as I used WGSN for most of the day to research emerging bag trends. I looked at the newest fabrics, colours and styles such as the Crocodile Leather, Ivy Green tones, and the bucket bag. I made this up into a document for he buyers to look at. Then I went on a comp shop (where I took a cheeky selfie in my studded leather jacket) to look at Debenhams Twill trousers and researched where these were being made and the design.

I was pretty excited when I was able to colour match pantone to a fabric thread which will be used on a boys jean for a big retail store in Summer 2016. I'm having a great time at Design Denim, today was even pulled pork bap day at Yumm so I was definitely a happy chappy! Just working from 9.30 then going to my sales associate job until 9pm and getting home for 10 is not fun. But its all worth it! 
Thanks, Bee xxx

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

My birthday was amazing but working at the weekend made me uncontrollably tired today. You can tell by my cheeky lift selfie that I look like I've hardly slept but I'm having an awesome time wearing my leather jacket collection to work every day. I have 12 different jackets so why not get them out on show!?

So today I finally finished off looking through all the Paris, Milan, London and most of New York Fashion Week shows on the schedule. I also went to the Monday meeting where new orders, current issues, FOB dates, customer meetings, factory visits, audits and other things were discussed. I then sat down and had training on SEDEX (Supplier Ethical Data Exchange) which follows the ETA (Ethical Trading Act) and I feel pretty strongly about ethical practises so it was interesting to learn about the auditing process and the nominated suppliers. I also did some simple typing up and filing for the team so they could easily access all the style files for each garment.

I even took some of my birthday cake in so everyone in the office could have a piece with their cups of tea and honestly it did help keep us going til 5.30!

Heres a pic of the cake, it was moroccan themed and my mom ordered it from the Cake Box by the Maypole... it is absolutely delicious! Thanks, Bee xxx

I spent the majority of both days looking through the AW15 Fashion Week Shows on Style.com and saving everything relevant to Design Denim. It was nice to be at work but also looking through the collections which I normally do anyway but February was way too busy with the Events project. I absolutely adore Anna Sui and her collection was amazing. The Seventies nostalgia trend is going to be great for Design Denim as every collection seems to have either leather, suede, fur or denim! The colourful fur jackets are to die for and I even like the miniature bags seen at Moschino and Emporio Armani. You can barely fit a lipstick and your phone in them but women carry too much unneccessary stuff in their handbags 'just in case' but we hardly ever need it.

Yumm cafe is my new fave place. They do a killer Vanilla Chai Latte, fish finger sandwiches on Tuesday and Thursday is Burrito Day! The food is so good and again, the atmosphere is really great so I sat down with some of the girls from the office and had a nice lunch. The team are all really outgoing and they even let me finish early on Friday as it was my 21st Birthday :D

Wish me a happy birthday then!
Bee xxx

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