12.11.17 - Gihan Amarasiriwardena - Design & Engineering
Last week marked the launch of Velocity Suiting. It's our first true "suit," but it’s been built over three years of research, evolution, and iteration. We’ve developed several jackets, blazers, and dress pants, experimenting with various interpretations of suiting: the everyday functionality of Aviator/Going Places blazers and pants, the casual 3D Suit, the future-forward 3D Print Knit Blazer, and recently the versatile Kinetic collection . Here’s what we’ve learned...
1. Aviator 1: “The Swiss Army Knife” (Fall 2014)
With our first jacket, we tested multiple concepts, aiming for a do-anything "Swiss Army knife" of jackets. Aviator 1 featured odor control, water resistance and stretch in a traditional silhouette. The feature that resonated best was the unrestricted stretch across the back.
However, we also learned that using innovative fabrics alone would not unlock the garment's potential completely. Traditional construction caused significant restriction, so we started to design alternative builds that could maximize the functionality of the materials.
2. LABS Stealth Suit: Technical Details (Winter 2014)
Utilizing a stretch-woven Swiss fabric, we created a suit using traditional tailoring, such as canvasing and shoulder pads. In this iteration, we used lamination for the first time for pocketing and buttonholes instead of stitching. While the Stealth suit construction was innovative, we learned about the limitations of structural bonding of seams.
3. Aviator 2: Unrelenting Stretch (Fall 2015)
With an unrelenting focus on stretch, we launched the Aviator 2. This iteration of the versatile separates was built using a new Japanese warp-knit fabric, with spiral-spring yarns, that creates the structure of a woven while allowing the stretch of the knit. Un-lined to allow the garment to stretch, Aviator 2 saw the debut of our curved-back yoke, which we've since adopted across our shirting as well. This subtle feature allows the back of the garment to stretch as much as you need without bunching. Our Guinness World Record-setting half-marathon in this “suit” was a testament to the Aviator 2's extreme stretch, moisture wicking, and breathability.
Aviator 2 also featured CobraX slide-lock buttons and laser-cut-bonded patch pockets. These features have been discontinued in our suiting because we learned that non-standard touches like these can make tailoring difficult. Based on customer feedback, we decided that the ability to get the right fit trumped the cool factor of a fancy button.
4. LABS 3D Suit: 3D Shape and Structure (Winter 2015)
A novel spacer knitting process resulted in a neoprene-like material with a fraction of the weight of traditional suiting. We were able to use this unique fabric to create a garment that had the comfort of a sweatshirt in the body of a blazer. Bonded seams and pockets enabled a clean aesthetic without topstitching.
5. LABS Seamless Jacket: The Future of the Blazer (Spring 2016)
Building on our understanding of unrestricted motion, we built a jacket from the ground up using a new process called WholeGarment knitting. It’s a form of 3D Printing that allows us to programmatically design garments with ventilation and articulation right where the body needs them. The digitally designed garment is then printed as one piece, with no seams and no scraps. The Seamless Jacket stretches the boundaries where blazers end and cardigans begin. We see that the market shifted to value comfort, and therefore we see this style as the cutting edge of blazer design.
6. Going Places: Tailorability (Fall 2016)
While nearly identical to the Aviator 2, Going Places featured subtle changes based on customer feedback. Having learned that tailorability was key to quality blazers and suiting, we built in the ability to alter the garment in key areas such as the rear side darts and sleeves.
7. Kinetic Blazer & Pants: Structured yet Mobile (Winter 2017)
The direct descendant of Aviator and Going Places, the Kinetic collection continues to focus on stretch while introducing structure in the shoulder through a dual-layer curved back yoke that allows movement without. A more refined silhouette brings overlapped rear vents, patch pockets and a wider notch lapel. It's also been technically upgraded with a durable water repellant finish throughout the system.
8. Velocity Suiting: Sharp, Crisp but Stretchy (Winter 2017)
While Velocity’s predecessors focused on stretch at the expense of a traditional woven aesthetic, the new Velocity suiting is intended to fill the void between the "boardroom" suit and the "wedding" suit.
Replacing traditional padding with spacer foam, and using a crisp wool-like woven, Velocity is a direct replacement to the go-to wool suits currently in your wardrobe. By blending viscose, for a wool-like hand and matte aesthetic, with polyester and spandex for moisture-control, wrinkle resistance and stretch, we’re able to create performance without giving up the look and feel of a natural fabric.
Much like a car company, we see each model benefit from the technologies developed and optimized in the preceding generations. Every iteration is built on the knowledge gained through "road-testing" the prior iterations (not to mention the prototypes between), and we continue to strive for the best performance possible in the real world.