China Trip Debrief

We’re happy to report that Ethan is back from his trip and nearly recovered from his jetlag.  Now that he’s had time to go through all his notes and digest the experience, it’s clear what an important and productive trip it was.

The Zhejiang Banyu Industrial Co. facility, located in Pinghu about 2 hours south of Shanghai, is immediately impressive.  It’s a complex of three buildings - one for offices, sampling and prototyping and two for bulk production.  Conditions at the factory are excellent - very clean, with significant airflow to keep the air fresh and free of chemicals and particles.

Ethan was equally impressed with the technology, efficiency and quality at the factory.  The facility has two laser cutting machines, which operate 24/7 to ensure the most efficient use of this machinery.  In addition, there are numerous standard cutting machines onsite for other components which do not require the extreme level of precision of the laser-cutting machines.  There were approximately 70 production lines, consisting of multiple sewing stations, ironing stations and for technical apparel, seam sealing stations.  Each production line is subject to two in-house quality control checks, one in the production line and a second after full assembly.  Banyu’s quality control checks yield a first pass rate as high as 99%.  While on the tour, Ethan caught glimpses of goods being produced for other brands, and although we won’t list them here, they’re some of the biggest names around.

After the tour, it was time to roll up the sleeves and get down to business.  Ethan and the team made significant progress on Prototype 3, sweating all the small stuff and ensuring that some of the more challenging construction elements of the design were up to snuff before we go into bulk production.  Significant time was spent on one of the key elements of the Fundamental Shell - its pockets.  The adhesion between the pockets and the shell fabric just wasn’t strong enough, and because we want to ensure that the pockets can take whatever abuse you throw at them, the team tested several adhesives, sewing solutions and alternate fabrics to make sure the finished product is perfect.

The team also focused on trim elements.  We’ve extended the zipper on the men’s shell a half a centimeter and swapped the fabric in the arm pockets for a better look.  We took a look at every seam and made sure all the extraneous ones were removed, keeping a streamlined appearance.  Finally, details like zipper garages and pulls were tested to determine the best combination.

It was a great trip and a tremendous learning experience.  We are even more proud of what we’re doing and cannot wait to see (and show you!) the results.

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