Behind the Seams: Summer Fabrics
Brooks apparel designer Tina Hsu shares the process behind making a summer apparel must-have: a pair of run shorts.
Growing up in Vancouver, B.C., Tina Hsu loved to draw. At age 13, she decided to pursue a career path that combined two of her loves: art and fashion. She went on to graduate from Parsons School of Design in New York with a BFA in Fashion Design.
The Taiwan-born designer explains that learning the intricacies of design and apparel and accessory production has validated for her career choice.
Apparel design from start to finish
Tina outlines the long and short of how a summer essential comes together:
- Fabric selection and development.
- Our in-house sewing team creates mock-ups to test out various features.
- Technical sketches.
- Request first proto samples from our vendor/factory.
- Wear testing and PAT testing.
- Tweaking the design based on wear test feedback.
- Request second proto samples.
- Further wear testing and PAT testing.
- Finalize designs.
She adds that within this process, other teams are creating artwork, coloring up the assortment, conducting fabric testing, gathering feedback, and more.
To get you ready for summer running, we asked Tina about design challenges, fabric selection, and more. Check out her responses below.
Brooks: What makes designing run shorts unique or challenging compared to other garments?
Tina Hsu: Designing run apparel is unique. We aim to build the best product specifically for the runner’s needs. At Brooks, our products are based in science and there is extensive testing involved in our design process. With a garment that is a key item in a runner’s kit, like a pair of shorts, we start designing years in advance to make sure we are allowing enough time to test and verify all the features.
How does the fabric selection process work?
TH: We define what we need in a fabric that will be best for the garment we are designing. We reach out to our mill partners with our desired fabric weight, material composition, design aesthetic, and properties. They then send us fabric options for us to select from. Once we decide on a fabric, we will often request improved features and benefits to better meet our runner’s needs.
Brooks: Why does the fabric we use in our shorts work well for hot weather runs?
TH: The fabric we use in our shorts is specifically designed to be light weight, quick drying/wicking, and feel barely there.
Brooks: Were there any specific runner insights that were most useful to you as a designer?
TH: Yes, learning what aspects in a pair of shorts would distract the runner from performing at their best helps us eliminate these distractions in our designs. Learning what each runner brings along and needs to carry on the run also helps in specializing the design of pockets to be exactly what they need.
Brooks: What are the three main product details you’re thinking about when you are designing men’s run shorts?
TH: First off, comfort. That means we’re thinking about the fit and feel, and that they’re zero-chafe. Second, performance. Runners want distraction-free, secure, functional features. And lastly, the look. We are looking for a “fast” appearance, so the runner looks and feels confident.
Long story short, the Brooks apparel design team does extensive research to keep you cool and comfortable no matter where or how far you run this summer. Want more insights? Head to our Run Happy Blog to explore Brooks gear, get training tips, and read inspiring stories about the run community.
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