In the coming months we are going to highlight the journey made by MAKE to find fabrics across the globe.
This month the focus is on the founding nation for mass technical woven's and jerseys for the sports and outdoor markets - TAIWAN
The history of weaving and knitting in Taiwan dates back to the original Austronesian inhabitants who migrated from Polynesia over five thousand years ago bringing their culture and manufacturing techniques across the Pacific Ocean.
In modern times, Taiwan was the first country to industrialise textile manufacturing for the technical fabrics market on a mass scale.
The Taiwanese combined knowledge passed down through generations with the progressive spirit and a willingness to grasp new techniques that the island is famous for.
Today many of Taiwan's knitting and weaving mills as well as dye houses are family owned operations with up to three generations working in the same business.
If you were a child in the 70's and 80's, your plastic toys would likely be labelled 'made in Taiwan'. If you were wearing the early generation technical fabric garments of the 80's and 90's it would have been extremely likely that your garment would be tagged with the same words.
During 2017 and 2018 the MAKE team were in Portugal looking for surplus materials for our first range when they chanced upon some fabric that had been lying dormant in a dark warehouse in a northern Portuguese village.
The fabric dated back to the 90's and due to the lack of light and a consistent temperature was in perfect condition.
During spring 2019, I showed some of this fabric that I was considering to use to one of our fabric suppliers at his office in Taipei.
Once the material was inspected It turned out that his mill had actually produced the fabric and he instinctively quoted the long item code from memory.
For a short time in 1895, between the Chinese Qing Dynasty occupation and the impending invasion of Japan, the island was declared a sovereign nation with the name The Republic of Formosa.
The words Ilha Formosa translate as 'Beautiful Island' in Portuguese and was apparently given by Portuguese traders when sailing to the island for the first time.
Taiwan and Portugal have long since had a unique trading relationship with materials being one of the main commodities that have influenced the culture and daily lives of its inhabitants.
Both our manufacturing partner in Portugal and mill contact in Taiwan knew about the trading history between the two countries and it was really fascinating and exciting to take a swatch that was found by chance back to its home and continue the relationship between two family owned businesses.
PORTUGAL: Some of the woven fabric selection that was found in Northern Portugal including poly cotton rip stop - Early generation soft-shell with DWR treatment - 2 and three layer nylon shells and light weight single layer polyester.
PORTUGAL: Fabrics are categories and put include sampling warehouse
TAIWAN: Technician comes to Taipei office to analyse material - Counting Denier using the perspex measuring guide that is held up in the foreground.
TAIWAN: Technician setting knitting blocks into a Chinese made FUH Y.K.M circular knitting machine in the textiles district of Taoyuan
TAIWAN: Lone worker monitors power and water supply levels at Taoyaun dye house
TAIWAN: During the visit to a laminating mill that bonds waterproof membranes to woven shells we located new surplus materials that will be available in the 2020 ranges