Substance Source: How We Made the Sportswear Collection with Textile Manufacturer Tex-Ray
A few weeks ago we added more than 150 textiles to Substance Source. Today we’re focusing on the sportswear material selection provided by Taiwanese textile manufacturer Tex-Ray. Alexandre Cailleaux, brand manager and fashion designer at Tex-Ray, will tell us more about the design of the fabrics and his creative process of designing sportswear apparel.
Check the Texray sportswear fabrics on Substance Source.
Hi, Alexandre, can you tell us more about yourself?
Hello, my name is Alexandre Cailleaux. I began to work as a character designer for the video game industry in Paris and Montreal before I oriented toward fashion design.
After trying to mix those two universes as a costume designer for stage and cinema, I studied fashion brand management and later launched my own brand, NextGen. I moved to Taiwan 3 years ago, where I am currently living and working as a fashion designer and brand manager for Tex-ray.
My main mission is to design garment collections for men and women in sportswear and casualwear using functional fabrics and design elements. These designs can be used by Tex-Ray clients as a basis to show them how to integrate the fabrics into their own products. They can also be added directly to the clients’ garment collections.
I am also in charge of the creative direction and design of Tex-Ray’s clothing solution: lightweight functional garments adapted to everyday life situations with cooling/heating properties and smart clothing apparel including a large array of technologies from heart rate sensors to lighting and visibility enhanced products.
Can you introduce Tex-Ray?
Tex-Ray is a vertically integrated manufacturer of dyed yarns, knitted and woven fabrics and garments. In addition, it develops smart clothing solutions, military related apparels and metal fibers. The company distributes its products within domestic and overseas markets, and it has become a supplier to most of the leading brands in the sportswear industry.
The headquarters is in Taipei, Taiwan, but the company has factories in China, South-East Asia, Africa and North-America.
What is specific about Tex-Ray fabrics?
Tex-Ray has expertise in developing functional fabrics that use specific yarns to engineer solutions such as cooling (T-Cool), heating (T-Hot), wicking, breathability, and so on. These solutions make the final garment more comfortable and provide additional advantages for their clients. Tex-Ray also aims to develop more eco-responsible solutions such as E-Color, a waterless dyeing solution, and has joined Bluesign to eliminate harmful substances from the manufacturing process. Tex-Ray sets and controls its standards to ensure a safe and environmentally friendly production process.
What are the typical customers of Tex-Ray fabrics?
Tex-Ray clients include many of the leaders in the sportswear industry (Nike, Adidas, Puma, Under Armour), but also brands in the casual, ready-to-wear sector (Lacoste, Calvin Klein, etc.). In general, Tex-Ray attracts brands looking for innovative fabrics and garment-design solutions for their production needs. Sportswear and outerwear are the main focuses of Tex-Ray’s customer base.
Can you tell us more about your design process?
Because of the particularity of Tex-Ray fabrics and the type of products that we produce, for me, every design starts with the function, the purpose that the garment will serve, and what the fabric and the shape of the garment should provide for its wearer. Of course, if I am working within a brand specification, another layer of brand image and requirements is added.
My process might be a bit different than most fashion designers, as I generally have to start from the fabric, and sometimes even the yarn. Once I know the property of the selected textile, its composition (polyester, cotton, nylon), the colors available, and the finishing options (water repellant, reflective, etc.), I can choose the right fabric, decide the type of garment that would fit these properties, and begin to sketch my design. Then it's up to the technical drawing, a precise and detailed version of the sketch with the sizing and other details. Later the pattern-making team will draw a pattern according to these sketches. From there it goes to sampling for a first version of the garment that will go into production if validated by the client.
I am currently attempting to implement a process utilizing 3D visualization. I hope to be able to go directly from the sketch to a virtual sample for the clients and see the possible outcome of the product, saving time and money.
What are the key drivers of innovation in the textile industry?
Textile innovation, as with any industry, comes from research and development. Tex-Ray enjoys a close relationship with the TTRI (Taiwan Textile Research Institute), a leading scientific researcher in textiles and creator of new types of fabric.
Events like climate change impact the needs of people and therefore the functionality of their clothing. They want them to be more responsive, lighter, cooler, or warmer. Therefore, textile technologies have had to follow or even lead the way.
New trends influence the aspect, colors of the textile, and innovative technologies which Tex-Ray has incorporated. E-Color allows for more vibrant and long-lasting fabric colors with a smaller environmental impact by using significantly less water. This process is helping to solve some of the global issues today.
Alexandre, working with physical textiles, what do you think about virtual materials in general?
Coming from the video game industry, I was already used to seeing textures and materials in a virtual format. Switching to fashion, I had to discover the physical aspect as well. While some qualities such as weight and texture are not available virtually (yet?), qualitatively rendered materials can help in making quick decisions and choosing the right look and color much faster than by going through a pile of fabric stock. You can also make quick changes and immediately see the results. I think it will be a game-changer in the near future.
What are the benefits for fashion designers and the textile industry to work with digital fabrics? How do you see the future of this library for fashion designers?
Hopefully, more and more designers will be able to use 2D and 3D software in their creative pipelines. To be able to visualize the final product quickly and realistically gives them and their clients much more time with which to work. Reducing the time between the concept to garment order in a matter of hours instead of days will change the market place.
I hope that one day all fabrics and yarn suppliers will be able to upload their fabric catalogs in a global digital library. This easier access would allow more creative choices and faster decisions for designers while allowing the supplier to find more possible clients. Of course, it won’t replace textile fairs like Premiere Vision, where you can touch and feel the fabrics, but it will enable designers and buyers to already do a pre-selection and make the fabric research less intensive.
What were your expectations in partnering with Substance Source to make this selection of Tex-Ray materials accessible to all fashion designers?
I hope that providing a way for more designers to experiment with their creative processes and giving them new options like the one offered by Substance Source will allow the industry to shift and modernize. This change will give more creative freedom to designers and limit the waste of time and money that occurs when searching for fabrics and sampling.
I think that using real, current, fabric-based materials will not only serve fashion designers, but also industrial designers, interior architects and even video game or cinema 3D artists to expand their resources and create even more realistic assets for their production.
When it comes to designing materials, do you use 3D modeling/rendering solutions? If so which one? Can you tell us more about your workflow using it?
Currently, I use Optitex, a 2D/3D solution for fashion. It allows me to go from a 2D pattern to a 3D model that will take shape on a silhouette, giving me a render of what the final garment should look like. Similar solutions are entering the market, which is nice because I used to have to use the incredibly inefficient 3ds Max when recreating some of the garments.
What are the typical issues you face working with fabric materials in the digital space?
The biggest issue in this workflow is getting realistic fabric inside the software render. By importing Substance materials, I can already improve the look and realism of the garment. However, a full integration would hopefully allow me to go even further.
Alexandre, can you tell us what you think the future of 3D in fashion design and textile creation will look like, as well as what you’re working on today?
I deeply believe that made-to-order businesses using a 3D rendered garment interface will be arriving in a not so distant future. The same way 3D printing is slowly changing some industries, soon if not already it will possible to pick a cut, fabric, color and sizing to have a 3D render using the consumer’s body shape available for preview.
The same way at a production scale, using 3D silhouettes to showcase the collection instead of a model runway could allow companies to catch up on an always accelerating fashion calendar.
For my part, I am developing a new brand that aims to solve the issue of style and adaptability in the particularly humid weather of the Asia-Pacific market. I am working to apply Tex-Ray’s functional textile expertise to everyday wear products, while still continuing my own brand, “NextGen,” mixing video game archetypal inspiration with streetwear garments.
Finally, I want to promote Taiwan’s designer creation through a collaborative effort to showcase it to the world.
Thanks to Alexandre and Tex-Ray for introducing the process behind the creation of the technical sportswear fabrics and being one of the first partnerships from the industry with Substance Source. You can find more information about Texray at http://www.texray.com.
Download Tex-Ray sportswear scanned fabrics on Substance Source.