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Develop - what's new from the Alpkit Design Team

Making Clothes for Movement

By Ronnie Legg
16, Jul, 2019

Designer Ronnie tells us about the process behind developing our new summer 2019 Made for Movement collection

When it comes to designing clothing for summer adventures, we’ve got one of the best jobs in the world. It starts with daydreaming about where we’re going to go (a day in the Peaks, a weekend in the Highlands or a week in the Alps?) and what we’re going to do (hike, climb or ride?).

The gear heads amongst us will then start mentally writing a packing list; climbing shoes, bike helmet and walking poles all jostle for space in our bags. Sometimes it feels like there’s no room left for clothing once all the ‘essentials’ have been packed for our planned activities! The answer is to take clothing that you can do as much as possible in; everything has to earn its place. No need to take a spare ‘smarter’ t-shirt if your technical tee can pass muster. That leads us nicely into the headspace for designing functional clothing that we want to wear no matter what we’re doing.

What separates a technical piece of clothing from a basic wardrobe staple? It’s all in the design and choice of fabric. Outdoor adventures put more demands on our body and our clothing; we need things to wick moisture, dry quickly, move with us and put up with the rough and tumble of outdoor activities. But sometimes we don’t want to feel like we just stepped off the page of a sportswear website, or look like we take it all a bit too seriously.

Fabric:

 

The design process began with the hunt for the right fabrics to create the products we had in mind. When it came to the Cabrera Polo, we knew we wanted to make a polo shirt that felt like our old favourite cotton polo. (You know, the one you wear out even though you know cotton isn’t the best choice for outdoor activities, but it’s just so damn comfortable). It’s amazing how a blend of rayon (a regenerated cellulosic fibre) with polyester can mimic the natural feel of cotton, while vastly improve on the shirt’s ability to move moisture away from your skin. For the Mello tights we needed a fabric that had fantastic stretch properties and opted for a denser knit that would offer greater durability for climbing in, whilst also preventing the dreaded show-through. We rejected several options that were too shiny, or too thin, or didn’t have enough spandex in them to keep the tights in place.

 

Where possible we chose fabrics that lighten our load on the planet, by using environmentally responsible materials that still offer the level of performance we need. The Picu Tees and Korri Camisole for example use a DriRelease Eco fabric, which blends recycled polyester with a little bit of organic cotton to create a fabric that is super soft and comfortable (like your favourite cotton tee) but wicks better and dries four times faster.

 

Design:

Once we’d settled on the right fabric for each product, the detailed designs started to take shape. We focussed on the elements that make a piece of clothing better for active use in the warmer months, such as freedom of movement. Every piece of clothing went through several rigorous fit tests on real life bodies (no mannikin can throw shapes like a climber can!) to ensure they are made for movement. Other practical details like ventilation and sun protection were built into the designs. For example the Rivo Henley styles has a button opening to allow you to increase air flow when the going gets warm, and the Cabrera polo collar is stiffened so it can be turned up to protect the back of your neck from the sun.

 

For this summer we have several women’s specific styles (Korri Camisole, Masino Vest and Mello Tight) which were born out of a desire to better meet the needs of active outdoor women. These use the same technical fabrics, and are designed with functionality in mind, to make the kind of clothing women want to wear at the wall or on the hill. (Oh, and they were designed by a woman in case you were wondering!). For example, the Korri and Masino use cross-over strap designs that are both flattering and more secure – so they won’t slip off your shoulders. Again, we spent a lot of time working on fit on a range of different body shapes and sizes. The Mello Tight took a couple of goes to get right; not too compressive, but tight enough to stop them from sagging, and high waisted enough for comfort under a climbing harness.

 

 

So there you have it, a sneak peak into the process behind our new summer clothing, designed to make deciding what to wear that little bit easier. We hope the result of all this hard work is the kind of clothing you’ll want to wear day in, day out.

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