While controversies abound regarding the composition of textiles used by the fashion industry, we transparently explain how we choose them on our side.
At Cotélac, most often, everything starts with the raw material. 'During specialized trade shows, we search for threads or fabrics that we will select for their visual aspect, their feel, and their technical properties,' explains Janelle Cox, assistant in the creative office. 'Then, we bring in samples and from those, we imagine the pieces that we will be able to create with this or that fiber.' 'It's a way of working that I had never experienced before working at Cotélac,' explains Céline Wolf, assistant stylist. 'It is true that our way of proceeding may seem different from that of other brands,' adds Nathalie Carrera, stylist in the creative office. 'This comes from Raphaëlle's* work method. Trained in Fine Arts, she has always been primarily interested in materials. Of course, before selecting them, we do research beforehand and we have a little idea of what we want to do. But they always inspire us enormously.' *Raphaëlle Cavalli, creative director of Cotélac.
The points that will make the difference: the treatment of the base thread, the manufacturer's know-how, the dyeing processes, the final result (washed, textured or even crumpled...). 'Depending on the countries, the qualities and finishes are not at all the same,' says Janelle. 'Even for artificial fibers, there are significant differences. Those produced in Korea and Japan, for example, have a much more natural feel.' These technically essential artificial fibers for transforming the material into tight folds or ruffles are therefore not all equivalent. 'We can't just say: let's stop importing fabrics from Asia! Of course, we always try to make our purchases as close as possible. But sometimes, it's impossible to find certain equivalent textiles outside of countries where the know-how is unique!' And regardless of the origin, textile blends with the least possible synthetic fibers are preferred. 'We make sure to meet strong technical constraints while keeping this concern in mind'.
More and more organic and sustainable materials.
"No plastic for buttons," explains Céline Wolf, assistant stylist. "We use mother-of-pearl from a cultured pearl oyster or Corozo." The latter, also known as vegetable ivory, is less well-known and comes from a fruit from ivory palms that grow naturally in tropical forests. "It is very resistant and takes color well: it is much prettier and ages much better than plastic!"
from left to right: mother-of-pearl, ivory palm trees and corozo
"In general, it can be noted that it is easier today to find organic and sustainable fibers. 'I remember that for a long time, they were rare and presented separately at trade shows. They seemed a bit inaccessible,' recalls Nathalie. 'They are more common today and that's a good thing!' They are therefore increasingly integrated into collections, including for synthetic materials, with the development of textiles from recycling. 'We try to be as vigilant as possible, but it's not always easy,' Nathalie explains. 'Indeed, in this area too, we can have surprises. I remember hearing about a polyester manufacturer who produced their own plastic bottles to be able to market a supposedly "recycled" textile: a total aberration!'"
Bamboo, paper, kapok...
"In fact, in collections, we find very varied and sometimes surprising compositions: paper - appreciated for its dry, fresh appearance and unique feel - bamboo, which requires four times less water to grow than cotton - kapok (a silky and lightweight vegetable fiber) ... Others are more common on clothing composition labels but not necessarily better known. Such as viscose, for example: wood or bamboo fibers that are very practical for providing softness and fluidity... "But in this field too, there are different brands with their own recipes and more or less qualitative products," says Nathalie. "As for viscose, we like to work with Cupro." This thread, which is slightly heavier than silk, is a cellulose fiber whose manufacturing process is environmentally friendly. The Cupro® selected by Cotélac is produced by the Japanese company Asahi Kasei Corporation, the only one to have obtained the OEKO-Tex Standard 100 label and the GRS (Global Recycled Standards), Eco Mark and LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) certifications."
Below: recycled polyester mesh, pleated and sublimated in our workshops, kapok pod, knitted mesh with paper thread.
We make every effort to achieve quality to the end.
The printing method also makes a difference. Depending on technical constraints, the most suitable processes are selected. Thus, for a drawing with a multitude of colors, the inkjet process is the most relevant. For prints that will be reworked, pleated or bubbled, the choice will be on sublimation, a technique with infinite creative possibilities and whose patterns are indelible over time. To fix the colors, sublimation requires a fabric with more than 50% synthetic fibers, but it allows for unparalleled customization. 'Finally, when technically possible, we prefer traditional printing,' explains Janelle. This requires having engraved rollers for each color. It is therefore not suitable for all prints. But in terms of quality - as with sublimation - it allows for patterns that will not fade over time, as the fibers are completely impregnated with colors. To print these materials traditionally, Cotélac has chosen for about fifteen years to favor French workshops with the aim of making them work and preserving know-how in France. This is the case, for example, with the textile embellishment workshops of La Turdine located in Tarare, near Lyon, or a workshop located in Saint-Savin in Isère, specializing in cylinder engraving for textile printing. Partners who, like Cotélac, have been able to maintain their traditional methods and production sites in France.