Hoodie for all grown ups
LOOPWHEELER×RUMORS special edition hoodie （1）
Here we present the LOPPWHEELER x RUMORS special edition hoodie! “Hoodie for all grown ups” is the concept of this collaboration. You may expect the excellence in both material and design. LOOPWHEELER CEO Satoshi Suzuki and director of RUMORS,Hiroyuki Matsumoto are about to tell us more.
Text by FUJITA Mayu（OPENERS）Photographs by TAKADA MidzuhoTranslated by Winsome Li (OPENERS)
Internationally recognized craftsmanship
LOOPWHEELER CEO Satoshi Suzuki is an expert in production and has been supporting many apparel manufacturers in Japan. He involves in various aspects from selection of materials to pattern making. “Everything except tailoring.” Suzuki said. With all the experiences in fashion, he met the craftsmen of the loop wheel factory who shares the same values with him.
LOOPWHEELER was established in 1999. The brand name “LOOPWHEELER” was inspired the by loop wheel machines. The fabric knitted by loop wheel machines is a long lasting material with a unique texture, softness and thermal feature same as cotton.
The creation of the loop wheel machines is widespread overseas. LOOPWHEELER has become an internationally renowned brand that had collaborated with Nike, sold at Colette in Paris. The modest loop wheel factory and sewing factory have received high reputation and they represent the bright future of Japanese craftsmanship. Created by LOOPWHEELER, loop wheel manufacturer and RUMORS, this special edition hoodie has so much for us to explore.
The 3 standard types of LOOPWHEELER hoodie
──The hooidie is not just a rearrangement of details, so are all the parts original?
SUZUKI We didn’t start from zero. This special edition is based on the high-neck hoodie (LW190). We redrew the pattern, trimmed 40mm from the original model and replaced the pocket. The LW190 has a smart silhouette and a high-neck design that protects the neck from strong wind. It is relatively new compared with the other two hoodies of LOOPWHEELER. One has the same design as LW190 but made from LW Light fabric, we call it LW81.
The third hoodie is an authentic model, the LW09. With the original features of typical hoodies, both sides are seamless that forms a cylindrical body shape. For LW81 and LW190, they are made from combining the front and back parts that cut out from knitted fabric formed in a large caliber. You may find the seams on both sides which is a typcial feature for hoodies.
On the other hand, the LW09 is a seamless hoodie available in 5 sizes from XS to XL. The cylindrical shapes of the knitted fabric (the caliber) represent different sizes. This is the first item for the“LW Basic” line. Without the seam, it fits the body better and feels more comfortable. But we cannot adjust the sizes as they all depend on the diameters of the cylindrical shapes of the loop wheel machines.
A sophisticated hoodie for grown ups
We have MARUWA Textiles Industries in Aomori to complete the sewing for us. Sewing machines with 4 needles called “Flat Seamer” are used in MARUWA. The sewing speed of the rarely used “Flat Seamer” is slower than normal machines. Commonly used machines have 2 needles, the fabric sewn by them seems perfect on the front side but stitches on the back overlaps and the fabric would be a bit uneven. But the 4 needles of “Flat Seamer” can achieve a flat surface. Certain parts of LOOPWHEELER items including LW09 and LW81 are sewn by “Flat Seamer”.
A sophisticated hoodie for grown ups
──What is the design concept?
MATSUMOTO Changing the original shapes of the existing LOOPWHEELER hoodie sounds a bit ridiculous. But our concept is a less casual, simple and sophisticated hoodie for grown ups. In order to get a slim silhouette, we trim 40mm from the pattern and readjusted the pockets and zippers for a smart image. For the pocket, we didn’t choose the “Kangaroo pocket” which is typically used for hoodies. It looks casual and “American” but hoodie is originally from America, so I guess it should be more appropriate. But instead, we picked the “Box pocket” for a modern look. Doesn’t it look smarter with this pocket?
SUZUKI We also have items with box pocket in LOOPWHEELER, it is the LW79. It has a ribbed pocket in different material but the pocket of this edition used the same material with the hoodie which gives a fresh image.
A playful pocket with design and functionality
──What are the other details?
MATSUMOTO We added stitches on both sides of the zipper. This is an authentic design for hoodie to emphasize the vertical line of it. Also it is easier to slide the zipper with those stitches. More people are riding bicycles recently so we place another pocket on the back. The silhouette will get worse if we put the pocket in the front. It is on the left for this special edition, LOOPWHEELER’s one is on the right I guess.
SUZUKI LOOPWHEELER produces Back Pocket Hoodie every year, the pocket is on the right. The easy reaching slanted pocket is fairly large and very convenient. When riding a bicycle with the body bends down, the fabric just stretches naturally with the curve so the back silhouette can still look nice. The pocket is sharply closed for a clean look. It is not such a big deal but a loose pocket can mess up the whole sihouette. Only MARUWA has the high sewing techniques to complete this shape finish.
The improved exclusive fabric just for RUMORS
──So the brand tag on the cuffs is in a different color.
SUZUKI The brand tag color is varied from different collaborations. Rumors’ one would be black with charcoal grey words. It is so chic. Usually hoodie has a casual, American college like image but this one is a traditional style with a European touch.
MATSUMOTO We want it to go well with slim pants for a European style, to wear casual but smart is the concept. Looking good but also feeling comfortable. Even we want it to be light and soft, we chose a firm fabric to achieve a more well-constructed shape.
SUZUKi So we create this new fabric exclusive for this hoodie. A fabric in between LW Extra Light and LW Light, we make it exactly like what RUMORS asked for.
Actually, we did produce a similar fabric in the past but I wasn’t satisfied with it. So we tried the combination of different yarn count, knitting machine andthe number of stitches.
Even for the same calibre, the more stitches applied the firmer the fabric will be. Texture can be change by adjusting the yarn and number of stitches.
A continuous of trial and error, finally this vintage white is achieved.
──I found the double white lines are quite outstanding from the simple design.
MATSUMOTO Those lines are in vintage style.
SUZUKI Oh…it was quite tough. We test printed many times. It is easy to print plain white lines, like two white tapes. But it is so difficult to create this dyed, vintage white. We print it by layering a few extra thin white ink but the thinner the ink layer is, the more it will be absorbed by the fabric and the color can’t be done clearly. We adjust the ink quite a few times and finally got what we want. I am sure the images on the article can’t tell the real color.
Values are generated from the sophisticated techniques that can’t be formulated.
──Tell us your thoughts on this collaboration.
MATSUMOTO I really wanted to use discharge printing for the lines but I realize it is impossible. I am glad that LOOPWHEELER accepted our tough requests and tried out many difficult techniques. Although Japanese techniques are being praised for their precision, most of them are of the high technologies. The traditional craftsmanship should also be proud and admired all over the world.
Many factories were closed down because they cannot find a successor. I used to work for “Mono Magazine” and learned a lot from there. Now as a member of web magazine “OPENERS”, I determine to promote the aesthetics of craftsmanship. I want my readers to see the future of Japanese traditions. It is our pleasure to create this hoodie together with the highly recognized LOOPWHEELER.
SUZUKI Creating this new fabric, I worked together with the factory craftsmen,telling them what I want and went through many times of trials and errors. It would be difficult for them because I am quite fussy…haha…but in a rational way.
Certainly, the long established relationship with them is very important. The strong knowledge we both share is also essential for the creation process which can’t be formulated into a guidebook. Of course we need written instructions to maintain basic standards.
People who see the craftsmanship can spread the words from generation to generation by their hands, eyes, voice and feeling. It is not something that can be done in 1 or 2 days, it takes time and patience for both the narrator and learner. It is a tough process.
The same case with sewing factories here, as you may know, sweatshirt fabric is flexible which makes it different from normal cloth. When sewing flexible fabric, the movement may be controlled by the operator's brain but how the fabric stretches can only be learned by their hands. The experiences can only be gained by feeling the process. I think this kind of sensual techniques can be discontinued forever just by a single pause.
The real truth we want to share!
──How do you think the creation and consumption would be like in the near future?
MATSUMOTO I think we can’t avoid the fate that creations will become more formulated . But in the chase for better speed and convenience, somehow I feel scattered. You don’t have physically to visit a shop to do your shopping anymore. Just one click and you get the goods next day.
When I was a student, there was a shop that had all the cool stuffs and shop staffs therewould teach you everything about fashion, I call it my “dream shop”. I was so attached to the products and this taught me a new sets of values. Retailers should know all about the features of materials, sewing techniques, history or the background behind.
I want it the same for RUMORS. We create a new shop to fit the needs of today's market. Not just the design and price we care, we also care about how to communicate with our customers on our products.
SUZUKI We are niche retailer……People should have different opinions towards our products. But having a strong tradition and origin of loop wheel sweatshirts, people should have the same understanding towards our goods. I want to talk to every customer but it’s impossible. That’s why I want to take this opportunity to tell everyone about “the real truth I always want to share”.
The real truth is about the thoughts of craftsmen on their creation. It is important to know their dedication towards creation. Our creation and value may be going against the rational world of today. But I will continue supporting the craftsmen and stick with my reversed journey against the modern world.
*The original article in Japanese was published on the 28th February, 2012.
*The Rumors special hoodie will NOT be available at the LOOPWHEELER International Online Store.