Technology revolutionizes supply field
New developments in the industries which supply the accessories field have made possible not only great variety in handbags, belts, gloves, purse accessories, but also speedier and more evident production. The developments are jar-reaching', from the actual material chosen through the processes and machinery used to the last decorative touch, the story is one of continual technological research and progress. To attempt to summarize it is no simple task; all we can hope here is to present some of the highlights of these tremendous and far-reaching developments in this ever-growing field. (Handbags & Accessories December 1955, page 22-23)
Much experimentation has been going on in this segment of the industry, and new and unusual effects are the result. In leathers, color, of course, leads in importance, with new soft translucent shades high among the innovations. Responsible for some of this advance in color are the aniline dyes which make it possible to produce transparent coloration for delicate effects. Luster finishes, too, add a new look to soft pastel shades, providing a gleam of pearl which enriches the end product. Printed leathers, offering myraid effects in many colors, constitute one of the most exciting developments in the leather industry. New silicone treated dry cleanable suede, textures, crockless suede, silicone-treated dry cleanable suede, metallic effects on reptiles have also focused attention on the tanneries.
Perhaps the most talked-about development in the leather industry, and one which may well have a lasting effect, is that of washable leather. Developed for gloves, primarily, this new product may mean a tremendous growth in the sale of leather gloves. Machine washable, the leather is said to maintain its soft texture through repeated washings. Softening agents are permanently locked into the leather fibers in the tanning, process. In suede or grain finish, this leather is available at present only in limited colors; these are expected to increase when the trade's knowledge of washable dyes increases. Constant experimentation is being conducted along this line at the present time.
In fabrics, printed corduroys and velveteens, gold overlay prints, rich many-colored brocades, textured embossed cottons, pleated and shirred silks and rayons have been causing excitement in the textile field. The "miracle" fabrics—nylon, Orion, Dynel, Dacron, etc. have aroused much interest, and the new synethetic pile fabrics offer fur-effects at a fraction of the cost of real fur. Suede fabrics treated with silicones enable the user to wear them in the rain with no appreciable effect; the claim is made that these may be placed under running water, and that the water will run off rather than penetrate the fabric. All these developments increase the wearability and thus the salability of the fabrics which are now being used extensively in all branches of the accessories field.
In plastics, much is being done in the way of embossing to produce unusual woven or textured finishes. Laminations of clear vinyls with contrasting motifs became extremely popular in the last year, and new and unusual patterns are being produced by lamination, both in rigid and in flexible types.
Plastic foams represent a new development of far-reaching possibilities. Produced originally for cushioning materials, these foams are now used extensively for decorative effects such as trapunto and padded designs. They are often placed between two layers of smooth plastic and fused by the electronic heat sealing process. Thus, they are used both decoratively and functionally in a wide variety of treatments. Products using these foams are priced in popular or volume categories.
Fittings and Findings
Much has been happening in this category to enhance the end product. Mirrors are now often copper-backed, to reduce clouding and spotting and to produce greater brilliance. These are available with the trade name of the manufacturer on the face. A wide variety of frames is available in many shapes, some welded, others not. Fastenings, have undergone a beauty treatment, and jeweled snap fasteners offer style appeal as well as service. Snap buttons with concave surfaces are given a high finish by hand polishing or are coated with lacquer and baked for a colorful effect. Spring-type closures are increasingly popular and are available in a number of shapes and designs for all types of handbags. Ornaments are jeweled, made of brass-plated steel for long wear, are in the form of appliques, bullion embroidery, delicate jeweled effects. In thread, the use of nylon and long synthetic fibers has increased the wear of the end product. New ready-wound bobbins of nylon are available with increased yardage, offering the possibility of a saving in time because bobbins need not be changed as frequently as formerly.
One of the most significant new developments received its greatest impetus this year. That is the electronic heat sealing process used, often, in conjunction with the new plastic foams. By this process, high frequency heat brings the materials (often two layers of film material with a layer of foam between them) to their softening temperature, causing the layers of material to flow and thus homogenize with each other. Simultaneously, the ram of the press exerts pressure on the laminated structure. This combination of heat and pressure causes a bonding of the various layers at all points of seal. When the ram of the press raises, the materials cool almost instantly at the point of seal.
Dies for use in these electronic heat sealing machines not only shape the article and perform the sealing operation, but also cut through the material, forming a tear seal, so that no further cutting operations are needed to complete the end product. The finished articles are separated from the sheets in a simple tearing operation, similar to tearing along a perforated line. Other dies produce a tear seal which also gives a stitched effect, although no actual stitching has taken place. Piped and appliqued designs can also be produced by this process.
By this process, three-dimensional effects are made possible without inflating the material as was formerly the case. This process is used, too, for sealing gussets to the front and back of a handbag in one single operation. One of the main talking points of heat sealing is that it makes possible intricate effects which can be mass produced by unskilled labor.
Other machinery and equipment developments center around the sewing machine. New machines can produce a wide variety of effects through multiple needle and zigzag operation. Ability to sew many layers of "sew-resistant" material has been improved, including rough, adhesive or glossy surface materials in fabric, plastic and leather. New machines use dacron, nylon or orlon thread as easily as cotton or silk, thus making possible strong seaming.
Application of electronic controls to the standard hydraulic clicking machine makes possible fingertip control, quiet operation, increased visibility of the work in process and a minimum of wear in the cutting pad. Safety features have been built into these machines, resulting in fewer accidents.
New turntable and automatic index-er attachments have been developed which make possible the conversion of manually operated machines to semiautomatic or completely automatic operation—a saving in labor.