Does modern industrial knitting know no bounds? Are there no limits to what can be achieved with knitting technology? As more and more non-standard applications are revealed by textiles producers and machinery manufacturers, it would seem not.
This week we heard how flat knitting technology is being used to manufacture highly engineered performance nets or pockets for professional standard lacrosse sticks in North America. In Advanced flat knitting technology to revolutionise sport of Lacrosse we hear how Warrior Sports, a division of New Balance, partnered with Los Angeles based flat knit innovation lab Fabdesigns Inc to develop The Warp, a high-tech alternative to traditional hand strung netting for lacrosse sticks.
The success of Nike Flyknit sneakers, which have uppers knitted on flat knitting machines, created massive interest in flat knitting as a technology which offers many of the benefits of additive manufacturing or 3D printing. The uppers are produced with a low carbon footprint in one piece through integral knitting techniques with almost no waste.
Nike has successfully taken Flyknit technology into multiple sports and its amazing publicity machine and sheer market dominance (as well as its beautiful products) has almost made Flyknit a household name. But is has also drawn massive attention to the potential of flat knitting and knitting technology in general for atypical applications or technical textiles applications.
Sure, lacrosse is a relatively small sport but New Balance is a big company. Watch out for more big names and small ones using the technology to bring innovation to lots of markets.
Circular knitted denim – big opportunity?
But it is not just flat knitting technology that is bucking trends. Circular knitting is also making waves in different ways. Sure there are more and more technical textiles applications being developed by circular knitters and machine builders but many of these are down to the materials being processed.
One of the most interesting new applications for circular knitting technology however is in the booming denim sector. That’s right, circular knitted ‘denim’ fabrics as an alternative to traditional woven denim fabrics are now coming to market.
In Lycra Hybrid technology – Knitted denim jeans that move with you we interview Jean Hegedus - Global Segment Director Denim for Invista and Ralph Hermann from Willy Hermann Fine Knitting, Austria about Invista’s Lycra Hybrid technology.
In the interview Jean Hegedus explains the thinking behind the development of Lycra Hybrid for the denim market: “In looking at industry mega trends, it is no secret that active wear garments have been increasing, particularly yoga wear, and sales of denim have been declining as a result. We really wanted to do something as part of the denim industry so that denim could capitalise on the active trend.”
The article includes a video which interviews students in Amsterdam who have been trialling Invista’s Lycra Hybrid jeans – whilst dancing, climbing, skating and running – yes running. Its worth a watch.
Lycra Hybrid was launched in New York on November 2015. See - Invista launches Lycra Hybrid Technology for high-performance knitted denim for further details.
Athleisure, the fusion between sportswear and apparel, is now a major trend and what better way to get on-board than with a knitted denim. Stretch denim is not new – Lycra has been used in woven denim for years now, but knitted denim with the stretch and drape properties is something worth watching and could present a major opportunity for circular knitters and brands.
The signs have been there for sometime now. Denim innovators like Jeanologia have been pushing knitted denim and major brands like Missoni have collaborated to combine knit with denim. Technology suppliers such as flat knitting machine builder Stoll have been beating the denim drum with its knitted denim collections over the past few years (See: Creating the Stoll used denim look in knitwear).
More recently, leading seamless circular knitting machine manufacturer Santoni has also entered into denim collaborations and expects knitted denim to be very big (more on Santoni’s denim project later).