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  Wholegarment Technology: Knitting new shapes & textures

Japanese manufacturer Shima Seiki is the world-leader in computerised flat knitting machine technology. Compared to its circular knitting and warp knitting counterparts, flat knitting is the only knit manufacturing method that is capable of producing shaped pieces for garments. Shima Seiki has
as presented a new and unique solution -- the BALExpress, which is a fully automated baling system for spinning mills. Claimed to be the first of its kind in India, it has certain salient features:

i) Easily implementable in any existing or new mill (unlike the solutions available worldwide now, which

 taken this technology to its extreme by realising the world’s first 3D shaped knitting of garments in whole without seams. Since its pioneering introduction of WholeGarment knitting technology in 1995, Shima Seiki has been the only manufacturer that has been so dedicated to the advancement of this new form of knitting, with over 200 patents realised in its development.

WholeGarment knitting actually has its origins in Shima Seiki’s very first product. The company was founded with the purpose of developing the world’s first seamless glove knitting machine, itself a small version of today’s flat knitting machine. The end product of that machine, the seamless glove, can be considered a miniature version of a WholeGarment pullover. Turning a glove upside down and combining the three middle fingers together, one discovers that the thumb and pinky resemble the sleeves, with the three middle fingers forming the body and the cuff becoming the neck opening. In this way, WholeGarment knitting had been in the mind of Shima Seiki’s founder and current president Dr. Masahiro Shima over 45 years ago.

WholeGarment knitting has become increasingly popular as an alternative to conventional knitting. Its benefits are many, including better fit and comfort through 3D shaping, improved draping through elimination of seams, and minimum materials usage through one-piece construction. The reduction in sewing and linking processes also results in quick-response production, less dependence on diminishing skilled labor sources, and of course, savings in labor costs. In this way, WholeGarment knitting can be considered the final solution to the ongoing problems facing knitting companies of consumer nations (such as the EU, the United States and Japan) where knitters are finding it more and more difficult to survive under the onslaught of inexpensive imports from Asia.

But WholeGarment knitting should not be considered as merely an effective alternative to existing production. The technological breakthroughs that make WholeGarment knitting possible have also resulted in previously unknown knitting techniques that expand the range of knitwear as fashion. New shapes, new patterns and new textures can now be knit using a wider range of new materials. Shima Seiki wishes to extend these new capabilities to designers, and that is the intention behind the exhibit WholeGarment by Saverio Palatella.

Saverio Palatella is known for his collection of knitwear with new shapes that use high quality materials. In addition he has had a history of collaboration projects for the advancement of fashion technology. For these reasons, Shima Seiki felt he would be ideal for designing WholeGarment knitwear. Indeed, the designs he has created for the WholeGarment by Saverio Palatella exhibit are deceivingly simple, yet a closer look reveals the complex twists and folds that make his designs unique and interesting. Several of the resulting designs have even been patented for their originality.

This is the second opportunity for Saverio Palatella and Shima Seiki to collaborate together on a WholeGarment collection, the first time being for the Pitti Filati Spring/Summer exhibit of 2007. In addition to designing WholeGarment knitwear for Shima Seiki, Palatella is also adopting WholeGarment knitting for his own collection, becoming a true spokesperson for WholeGarment technology.

Similarly, with the WholeGarment by Saverio Palatella exhibit, Shima Seiki welcomes designers to discover the potential of WholeGarment knitwear for themselves. It also hopes that the exhibit will serve as a forum among designers and knitters for discussing future collaboration projects.

WholeGarment by Saverio Palatella

It’s a story of forbidden love, filmed inside a historical Milanese building. It ignites in the rooms of an antique apartment and flees from the grand staircase. An eighteenth-century Milanese residence is theatre to the intriguing and ambiguous liaison between a man and a woman. Just twenty shots are needed to tell this intricate story of seduction and remorse.

Alexandro Martinengo and Amilcare Incalza take turns behind the camera.
The photos, born on a classical set, take on their definitive form during post production, which sees them ferried from the world of fashion to the world of art.

The story was the theme of a photographic exhibition, which was open in Milan in February at Supertudio 13 in via Forcella, 13 during the Milan fashion week. The inspiring subject is Wholegarment by Saverio Palatella, an avant-garde project from the Italian designer. For his official debut, Milan was chosen as the ideal stage and the art photography as his first interpretation.

The new collection of knitwear suits by Palatella, contemporary in both content and technology, expresses itself year by year through the most congenial contemporary art, against a background of international cities selected on each occasion, as the most suitable location to host it.

“The idea – explains the designer – is to accompany my Wholegarment by Saverio Palatella project with a project of artistic communication, from videoart to performance that has its own meaning. Beyond the spirit of the garments that in some way it wishes to interpret”.

Wholegarment by Saverio Palatella is a design research project that stems from the collaboration between the Italian designer, one of the leading knitwear designers, and Shima Seiki, a leading Japanese company specialised in knitwear technology and production machinery. Its machinery and knowhow are used by the world’s most important international fashion houses.

Alexandro Martinengo and Amilcare Incalza, worked together both on set and during post production.

published September , 2008
 
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