A Melbourne designer using bamboo for fibre has developed a bamboo stretch fabric having both aesthetics and functionality with high sun protection. Made in Melbourne, cloth has been given a 50plus ultraviolet protection factor rating by the government's Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.
Manufacturer Julia Van Der Sommen, who specialises in knitting technology and garment development, said that the fabric is very unique and it has taken two years to develop. The anti-bacterial fabric achieved its high UPF rating through a "secret recipe", including a combination of the knitting and the finishing process.
They worked with a knitter here in Melbourne to develop a thicker fabric that was nice to wear with dresses and pants.
Currently, the fabric is not retailed and is only used in the Sha-de line, Ms Van Der Sommen's casual and weekend-wear clothing for women and children. But she said that there were plans to patent the fabric and retail it in markets like India.
Ms Van Der Sommen said the Sha-de line had been well received in Japan and the US markets.
Design Institute of Australia Victoria and Tasmania state president Claire Beale said that the future was about "wearable technology" that provided better performance in clothing.
The real interesting thing about this textile is its application for everyday fashion, particularly for women and children who are active, Ms Beale said.
According to Ms Beale, the Australian textile industry could only survive if it used new modes of practice in textile and fashion. It is actually about innovative, small to medium enterprises coming up with a unique point rather than large-scale mass manufacturing,
Textile industry need to think beyond just a fashion garment and how it fits and feels, but actually about its performance characteristics. Things like being antibacterial, moisture wicking, UPF â€“ all of these things are an added bonus that at the moment is seen as novel, but Beale predicts it will be mainstream in the next 10 years.
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