Whole garment knitting technology was pioneered by the Japanese company Shima Seiki at its Wakayama HQin 1995, allowing manufacturers to produce pieces (initially gloves, but quickly extended to include all knitted garments) in whole form, without seams. It makes for a better fit and improved comfort, but also minimal waste and material usage and a faster production process.
In very basic terms, the latest generation of the Shima Seiki machines use four needle beds for finer gauge fabrics, while two needle beds are used for knitting and for transferring. The garment is produced as a 3D structure, with all information for both the front and back of the piece pre-programmed into the machine, overseen by a digital stitch control system that can keep a keen eye on the quality of each individual stitch, everything from loop length to tension. That allows for greater consistency of form and quality.
Sustainability is a crucial part of Japanese culture, embedded in the country’s traditions and philosophies, with roots in the Buddhist concept of mottainai, a dislike of waste and belief that every object has value. Now a bedrock of contemporary Japanese environmentalism, mottainai has also become a platform for the country’s more purpose-led fashion brands to express their eco-friendly ambitions and credentials.
Technological advancements, like those offered by Shima Seiki, are central to this belief, as is a strong connection to the past and nature. That’s echoed in Concrete London’s own brand ethos, one that embraces the opportunities presented by technology and the constant evolution, both within the industry and beyond, while also taking inspiration from the past.
It’s why Concrete London only uses whole garment technology in the creation of its merino pieces, and why its focus is always on achievable production and sustainability. Zero wastage is always the key driver behind everything Concrete London does during the creative and production process.