For a long while, many of us have been turning to Canadian accessory brand Herschel Supply for their dependable, classic and easily rockable backpacks, bags and carryables. But now, Herschel is looking to solicit our attention for a wholly different reason. The folks at Herschel have been busy in the lab perfecting their all-new ApexKnit™ fabric, an engineered material that derives inspiration from certain textiles commonly used in the footwear industry.
Not only is ApexKnit™ both lightweight and highly durable, its resulting collection is a minimalist range that updates Herschel's clean design philosophy for today's market.
We caught up with founder Jamie Cormack to get the low-down on what makes ApexKnit™ so special, and to find out what makes this one of Herschel's biggest initiatives to date.
Tell us first about the story behind ApexKnit™.
A major focus for us is experimenting with new materials and manufacturing processes. The idea for ApexKnit™ came about two years ago after we discovered jacquard fabrics at a footwear tradeshow – we immediately knew it was something we wanted to work with. Finding the right manufacturer to help create our own exclusive jacquard was a year-long process, going through countless samples until we finally found the right partner to develop ApexKnit™.
How is it different to regular Cordura, Nylon and Canvas?
The biggest difference is the actual composition and how the product is constructed. The material itself is a high-density knit, allowing us to produce patterns and gradients that are actually woven into the material instead of being printed or dyed onto the fabrics like you would with nylon or canvas. We also cure the jacquard, which creates a stronger material that helps prevents a lot of that wear and tear that would normally come with regular use.
With our construction process we try to ensure each piece is constructed with the least amount of individual separate pieces as possible, so reducing waste and the overall weight by eliminating traditional seams. The end result is a stronger product that's been molded into shape and has a progressive, minimalist aesthetic.
We're seeing lots of high-tech knitted fabrics in sneaker design, how is ApexKnit™ different to Flyknit, Primeknit for example?
The material composition of our ApexKnit™ fabric is similar to other examples out there, but the real difference is in our construction process. ApexKnit™ has to be a lot stronger because we're physically molding each piece, creating pockets and forming silhouettes that need to hold their shape independently.
We're also working with fabric panels that are much bigger than the dimensions of a shoe, which presented a unique challenge for us when it came to maintaining the integrity of our molded components. For us, it was a great accomplishment because, to date, no one else has worked with jacquard fabric in pieces this large.
What is it about knitted technology that works so well in 2016?
Consumers are always looking for what's new and innovative, and I think with knitted technology it's an exciting discovery that actually lives up to its promises. The end result with jacquard is a lighter and more resilient product that aesthetically looks and feels special. It's also a process that allows you to reduce waste in the manufacturing phase, which is always an important consideration.
Tell us about the specific pieces used in the ApexKnit™ collection.
In our initial launch of ApexKnit™ this February we released two backpacks and a pouch, all of which sold out the first day. We wanted to translate some of our classic silhouettes and modernize them, and the Lawson backpack and Network pouch felt like an organic fit. We also introduced the Dayton backpack, a new design with a modern, utility-driven aesthetic.
What can we expect from ApexKnit™ then in the future?
This is just the beginning for ApexKnit™. There are some exciting partnerships planned for the future and we're bringing it further into our line in new colorways as part of the B.H.W. Collection for Fall 2016.
What does this mean for the rest of the Herschel line?
Right now we think of ApexKnit™ as the pinnacle of our line. It's the first fabric we've ever trademarked as a company, and having it into our collection really pushes us to continue thinking of new technology that we can use to modernize our classic silhouettes. We're constantly looking for ways to innovative, and this is a great example of our design team adapting an exciting new material to suit the needs of our product offering.
Will the technology be rolled out across the rest of the collection?
Definitely. You'll continue to see us roll out ApexKnit™ products in the coming seasons, experimenting with different silhouettes and finding new ways to apply the fabric with mixed material stories in the future.