unrefinery
July 25, 2016  ·  design  ·  tech

Strategies for Wrinkle Resistance

If you live long enough, eventually you will have learned a series of different names for what is essentially the same thing. Just as polyester was rebranded as "microfiber" in hopes we'd all forget about its origins as a sort of non-breathing, wearable saran wrap, they probably gave up on the term "permanent press" in order that we might not recall its formaldehyde-treated first incarnation. Wrinkle-resistant, non-iron, stainproof, etc. fabrics are all essentially similar—cotton is soaked in a solution of tiny particles that are then bonded with heat to the material's fibers. This is highly effective and highly durable, and grants many of us the otherwise unattainable goal of wearing cotton khakis to work or for travel and not looking like crap by the end of the day. But like anything it has its pros and cons, and there are alternatives in the search for everyday trousers that don't need to be dry cleaned.

Wrinkle-resistant cotton garments are available at even the lowest price points. For everyday work wear, the best value for performance is found in Brooks Brothers Advantage Chinos and Lands' End No Iron Chinos. The advantages to the material are cost and ubiquity. The downsides are that the treatment is almost impossible to find in made-to-measure clothes and that altering off-the-rack trousers typically leaves a small but noticeable scar.

Heavier cottons are inherently wrinkle-resistant, or at the very least, produce broad creases that are aesthetically pleasing (think denim). Cotton canvas is one such material. 11oz canvas is great in cooler months. Less fun in the dead of summer.

Small amounts of elastane or lycra work in a different way than chemical and heat treatment by allowing garments to stretch and deform a bit while returning to their original shapes. AG is big on putting a little stretch into their casual trousers and it does wonders. Also effective in corduroy to prevent sagging knees after sitting. As a downside, such materials will not hold a crease no matter how much heat and pressure you blast them with. Limits somewhat their workplace potential.

Washable wool blends promise the look of wool with the easy care of cotton. Unrefinery had some test bespoke trousers made up in Luxire's "Wool Rich" material, which is 70% Super 120s wool and 30% polyester. They look great and they survived the wash completely unscathed. Apparently they can also be tumbled dry. Still kinda hesitant to try that.

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