Monthly Archives: March 2015

Behind the Design: Great Fabric Is Our Foundation

M-L910-Vic Falls Solid_02Earlier we wrote about the way the Design & Development team work to create our perfect League tees. In addition to exploring new designs, our D&D team meets with fabric mills in the USA as well as Central America (and worldwide) to discover fabric trends that they’d like to incorporate into the League clothing arsenal.

With these new fabrics in hand, the team returns to Philadelphia where it hands over swatches and samples to the fabric mill, which analyzes the material and matches it to a “wish list” for D&D enhancements.

The fabric mill team is comprised of expert textile designers and engineers who knit, dye and finish a sample of the product and present it to the D&D team.Then the D&D team members sit in a room and study the finished product, rubbing it between their collective fingers, poking it, holding it up to a light. They say “hmmm” a lot, write down their comments on a yellow note pad, and then — if League-worthy — approve the final fabric offering. If not, the team sends the fabric back to the folks at the fabric mill who enhance or update the fabric based on our suggestions.

This selection process alone can take more than six months. That’s because we won’t serve a product before its time. And it’s because we include our Central America team in this process to borrow their expertise.

One of the wonderful things about League’s fabric is the blend. Lots of T-shirts are made of 100 percent cotton and those cotton shirts can generally be classified as stiff, and shrink a great deal.

Some clothing companies combat this problem by blending in a little polyester — ergo the term “bi-blend” — and the idea was to reduce the shrinkage. But it still wasn’t comfortable. 

So League added rayon to the mix, and now you get comfort as well as a good silhouette. What else can you expect? Rayon was originally developed as a fabric to replace silk, and nothing feels as good against your skin as silk. 

At League, we demand yarns that are comfy, luxurious, look good, stretch well, and on top of all that, hold their shape well. We insist on high quality. For us, it’s all about the feel and the softness.

After we’ve blended all three yarns together, we knit and dye them, keeping in mind that every fiber takes the dye differently. We have the option of doing a single dye or a double dye to create different vibrancy.

Take, for example, our L900 Victory Falls Tee. The grey is its natural state, but our colored L900s take a cotton dye. Our Twisted Tri-blend tees have the exact same tri-blend fabric ratio, but take a poly dye to create a different color palette.

And there are three main washes that we use for different fabrics. Each adds a different drape and we don’t use them all for every collection. Our enzyme wash is typically used in the men’s collection. This adds a luxurious weight to the fabric, smooths it out, gives it a more vintage coloring — and it gets the fuzzies out.

Our silicone wash also adds weight to the fabric and makes the color darker. You can see this process on our Freshy for instance. For our laundered wash — which we use on everything — the primary goal is pre-shrinkage. So the clothing you buy is the size you want.

After we get the look and feel of the fabric down, the D&D team again enters the picture, taking on the task of designing new garments based on these chosen fabrics.

Based on all of its research, a design sketch is created in the League Development system. This sketch is expanded into a “tech pack” that details how each garment should be constructed, including style details and drape, measurements and other pertinent details.  

That information is sent to our team of pattern makers, seamstresses and textile engineers, who create a pattern. The final garment is sewn and put together, and a sample is sent to the D&D team for its final review.

And if that new garment gets the nod from these highly skilled team members, that’s the final signoff before it appears on a campus store shelf near you.

This is why League is known for having the softest, most comfortable, and longest lasting tees in the business.