It wasn’t so long ago that we moved from clothing being created for the individual, from tailoring, to mass production. Through this change, clothing has been designed to fit the body type that the greatest number of people fall into, to the exclusion of many. Whether it be plus sizes, the tall, the slim or the athletic, if your body does not conform to the average it can be difficult to find proper fitting clothing.
As not everyone is able to have their clothes custom fitted, many companies have caught on to this growing discontented market and have attempted to provide solutions. Clothing is beginning to accommodate shape and not just size. Levis and their introduction of curve IDs slim, demi, and bold are perhaps one of the more mainstream examples.
Like all great ideas, Tatau stemmed from trying to fulfill a personal need. This project began in an attempt to find or create a line of t-shirts that suited athletic body types. A tee that meant getting the correct shoulder width didn't mean sacrificing a fitted waist, or enormous sleeves, or a hemline that came down to your knees.
Clothing should be comfortable, fitting, allowing the wearer to move freely. Clothing should be like a second skin, like a tattoo.
Tatau, the Samoan word for tattoo, comes from the palpable tat tat sound of the artists tools committing ink to skin. Body art is a tradition that in the Pacific has endured for thousands of years, a ritual ingrained within the very core of the culture and history of its people. Each line, each coil and shape and arc tells a story. Like hieroglyphs it is both a tale and an art, a symbol of stature, a pictorial representation of a people.
When we began developing the idea for Tatau, we wanted to meld form fitting clothing with great materials and design. The fit should enhance the the illusion that the print is actually a tattoo. We have worked hard to create a handful of initial designs that truly capture the essence of polynesian tattoo. The design should fold and follow the lines of the body.
Insisting on the finest quality cotton we have collaborated with the manufacturing company to finalise the cut and fit of the t-shirts. To conform to the athletic or muscular frame, our t-shirt sizes accommodate greater bulk in the sleeves and chest while maintaining a tapered waist.
Currently we are testing different colour combinations, and once we have narrowed down the choices we will be looking for input as to which selection should make the first product run. Depending on the amount of support there will be more colours and designs.
Pledges are essentially preorders for the t-shirts, which we will couple with a survey on sizing and colour.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge thus far has been translating accurate and clear ideas about both the design and fit into guidelines for manufacture and printing. Having to learn the jargon and the trade to communicate exactly what we are trying to achieve.
The cut of the t-shirts is custom, designed to fit a specific body type rather than the majority, and working with the manufacturing company has been a learning process.
Similarly, the nature of the design and the way it wraps around the fabric has meant that traditional screen printing was not an option. It took several tests and adjustments and continuous communication with the printers to assure that we maintained a high level of quality control and that the design was consistently aligned.
Going forward we expect maintaining a high level of quality to be the biggest challenge we'll face, particularly when we expand the colour range, and in the creation of the women's tee.
We fully intend to monitor production every step of the way and implement Tech industry like levels of quality control.