United Colors of Benetton has unveiled the TV31100 sweater, made from one single 500 metre long thread. Retail & Buying Director Sara Maggioni reports.
We visited the Benetton’s plant in the idyllic Treviso countryside, Italy, for the brand’s latest product launch – a new line of sweaters produced with sophisticated Japanese technology and entirely made in Italy.
Having always been at the forefront of knitwear innovation –as well as an advertising trail brazer with its iconic ad campaigns- Benetton has just invested a whopping €2m on 36 state-of-the-art Japanese Shima Seiki knitting machines which use a process akin to 3D printing for the creation of entirely seamless, ultra comfortable knitted sweaters.
Aptly named TV31100, the postal code of Treviso, and even featuring a Made In Treviso label to really drive home the “locally produced” message, the sweater is an 18 gauge fine knit (90% Merino wool 10% cashmere), and is set to hit the brand’s top stores in Europe, India and Mexico around Mid-November, with a retail price below the €80 mark.
The team ran us through the whole process, from the initial concept (essentially deconstructing the basic sweater down to its yarns, looking at its structure and how it created a totally seamless style) through to the meticulous quality control at the end. They went through over 70 samples to get to the final product, a painful but necessary process to achieve the ultimate fit.
Each sweater takes an hour to produce with the machines spinning knits from one single thread that is 500 meters (half kilometer) long. With sustainability becoming increasingly important and shoppers becoming more aware of it, the TV31100 is manufactured with whole garment technology – a knitting technique that eliminates yarn wastage and has a reduced environmental impact.
Benetton is the first brand in the mid-market realm to use this advanced technology, which is currently only “scraping the surface” according to Satish Tailor, head of innovation at the company. “There is so much more these machines can do. The technology is only going to get better” said Tailor. “ We are already starting to work with finer yarns and the sweaters are just the starting point as there are plans to evolve the range in the near future”.
While this new range doesn’t replace Benetton’s core offering, it provides a more premium product and a new classic for the brand, tapping into all-important season-less and transeasonal concepts, “This is a sweater than can be worn all year round, layered for winter but its lightweight quality makes it a perfect option for spring/summer as well” continues Tailor.