We’re gonna kick off a new bi-weekly feature here at SL. Over the last few months we’ve been asking brands about the process behind their clothing and we’ll be featuring their answers every Tuesday and Thursday. Kicking us off is SNS Herning, whose answer is after the leap.
The process (from our perspective) begins with our buying great & sturdy wools spun in Italy. The raw material is from Australia, only our Merinos are from South America & South Africa. The main part of the process is the knitting which is done by the use of aged German machinery (we are true lovers of the STOLL brand) – some of them dating back to the 1950’es – and one of them even to the 1930’es. This particular machine is used for the production of our new S10 collection to be released in December 2009, and will soon find a new & most surprising use – but we cannot relate all secrets just yet.
All knitting is handled by four guys – mature men, I would say: Son of the founder of S. N. S. Herning, Holger, his brother-in-law, his old-time friend, and our new young apprentice who is picking up the craftsmanship from the old guys – and even teaching them a trick here & there as well. We stick by the old machines, since they were made more robust back in the days, and this allows us to fill more yarns into the knits, than would otherwise be possible. Also, we find it fascinating to use purely mechanical systems – since they have an inherent logic & beauty in themselves. If a problem appears, it can oftentimes be solved with something as basic as a hammer. We like that.
The process is actually very messy, oily & noisy. Last year, officials supervising the production sites in Denmark for the work environments appeared out of the blue one afternoon (they tend to do it like that), and I was so afraid that they would shut us down. Fortunately, since most of the machines are so ridiculously old, the safety precautions that applies to new machines, did not apply.
For a lot of our knits, you will even find traces of the old machinery in them – if you look at e.g. uneven parts in the knitting (you would need to look a bit carefully, though). Strictly speaking this is an expression of an inbuilt limitation in the machinery. Yet we do not consider this as flaws, but rather just traces left from the process. There has been a tendency to shy away from process & the reality of manufacturing. But is there in all honesty something wrong with a product bearing witness to its origin? If we were in fact ashamed, it would be rather foolish to have every S. N. S. Herning knit bear the signature of the artisan who did the knitting. I recall my mother protesting why on Earth I would want my father to sign a knit – since his handwriting was so imperfect. Every signature would be very different & not very pretty at that, she complained. Well, just a case in point. His signature is still there.