We are all familiar with stonewashed jeans, for which various production techniques are used to produce an aged, vintage effect. Similar processes can be used for shirts, with results that increase comfort and enhance the garment’s visual appeal. Dressing is always a subjective experience, but there is no doubt that the feel of one of Boggi Milano’s shirts that has treated with coating and washing processes has an easy, relaxed comfort that puts it in a class of its own. Whether the fabric is cotton, linen, merino or blend, the combination of dyeing and washing gives the garment a sense of history even when it is brand new. The processes give the textile subtle variations in colour that create a sense of three-dimensional depth and give it extra visual interest.
Garment wash, a multi-phase process
Wash techniques are based on special enzyme treatments that were invented in the 1980s as a way of achieving the same results that had previously been created by stonewashing, a process in which the inclusion of pumice in an industrial washing plant produces a worn and faded effect. Enzyme washes are a complex procedure based on cellulase. The first step is desizing, a procedure that removes size, dust and other impurities from the garment’s surface. In the second step, the enzyme cellulase operates on fibres, removing a proportion of the finest fibre filaments and pigment. Enzymes are then deactivated by a high-temperature wash, and a rinse wash removes all enzymatic residues from the fabric. Washes can be light, medium or heavy, creating different degrees of fading, and they can be accompanied by hand-sanding and stone-washing that leave localized areas even lighter in tone.
Expression of quality
Wash treatments can be combined with other techniques such as cold dyeing, to create yet more effects. The end-result of these procedures is a garment that is always a one-off piece, different to any other, and a garment that will change further over its lifetime with successive home washing operations. It becomes a personal possession, a much-loved item in the wardrobe. Fabric washing contributes to the garment’s overall quality, along with other constructional details such as buttoned sleeve plackets, profiled cuffs and the triangular gusset on the lower hem. For Boggi Milano, shirts are an iconic product, and so it is not surprising that our company dedicates a lot of research and development resources to the optimization of appearance by means of wash procedures.