Custom cycling clothing specialist Mt. Borah has begun using a new ‘green’ fabric that contains 47 percent recycled fibres. Both post-consumer and post-industrial materials are incorporated into the fabric which the company claims to save two gallons of gasoline for every twelve jerseys.
“We spent a lot of time researching fabrics which were being marketed as green,” said company owner Chris Jackson in a press release. “In the end, our focus was on recycled fabrics rather than some of the alternatives such as bamboo and coconut. What we found out is that the process to convert some of these materials into fibres involves the use of toxic chemicals. Under controlled conditions this may not be so bad; however, developing countries are not necessarily as concerned about the health conditions of their factories, which is where our concern lies.”
This interest in preserving the environment is also reflected in its membership in ‘1% For The Planet’, an alliance of companies that contributes 1 percent of sales to various environmental groups around the globe.
But while the company’s efforts are admirable in and of themselves, it is Mt. Borah’s early dedication to the relatively new process of digital sublimation that has earned it a fast-moving position in the world of custom cycling clothing. Traditional screen sublimation is a labour-intensive process that involves producing a physical screen and transferring the dye through that screen on a heat-transfer paper. On the other hand, Mt. Borah’s digital process prints the dye directly on to the paper via a wide-format printer, thus reducing setup costs and increasing design flexibility.
“The ink and the paper that we use for the digital process are more expensive than the ink and the paper that you could use on the traditional screen print process,” said Jackson. “But really the substantial savings is on the labour end of it because we don’t have as much time involved in the setup. We have the artwork, we have the template, and then we have an [Adobe] Illustrator file that just gets ripped and printed. It’s nowhere near as labour intensive.”
According to Jackson, this yields lower prices to custom apparel purchasers although the real advantages lie in faster turnaround times and lower minimum order requirements which currently stand at only four weeks from time of art approval and just six jerseys, respectively. When finalizing designs for its sponsored Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast road team, Mt. Borah even produced one-off samples for approval prior to production.
Jackson admits that digital sublimation still lags behind traditional screen printing in colour vibrancy although the difference is barely noticeable judging by our sample. “That’s been one of the drawbacks of digital dye sublimation in the past. With the new advances, every day it’s getting closer and closer to achieving that same vibrancy of colour.”