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Brentano Design Director Speaks to Students at Chicago's Columbia College

Wang illustrates leno weave structure
Wang illustrates the structure of a leno weave, in which pairs of warp yarns are twisted around each other between filling yarns to provide open weave fabrics with firmness and durability.
On Monday March 1, Brentano Design Director Iris Wang visited the Fundamentals of Textiles for Fashion course at Columbia College in Chicago. Invited by Bruce Woods, a Professor in the University's Art & Design Department, Wang spent nearly four hours discussing textiles with the class.

Although the course is focused on the fashion industry, Woods says he was hoping that Wang would not only talk about the importance of fabrics being suited to the product being produced, but was also "very interested in the students learning from someone directly involved in the industry." He believed her visit would demonstrate the varied career paths related to the fashion world, including fabric design and textile research and development.

For her part, Wang spoke about the basic knowledge necessary for a career in what she knows best - textile design. After a brief introduction to the interior textile industry, including definitions of FF&E and explaining the differences between contract and residential sectors, Wang began a discussion about the quality of performance and physical properties of various fibers. She talked about the standards set by the Association of Contract Textiles (ACT) and how these standards could be related to fashion design.

The majority of her lecture focused on the characteristics of numerous fibers, including cellulose fibers like cotton, flax, and hemp, protein fibers like wool and mohair, and manufactured fibers including both cellulose fibers such as viscose rayon and synthetic fibers like polyester. She also talked about yarns, weaving on looms, fabric features like warp and weft, fabric weaves, knitted fabrics, embroidery, and textile dyeing, printing, and finishing.

Wang brought each student a selection of Brentano samples to follow along with as she pointed out various aspects of different fibers in order to provide a hands-on and visual experience.

Students were perhaps most impressed when Wang demonstrated how new technologies of stain resistance work. After explaining that the brands of Crypton and Nanotex are finishes that increase spill and stain resistance, she took out a bottle of water and poured it on the Crypton sample. The students were amazed at how the water did not soak through the fabric and instead beaded up into small puddles.

The students also watched a film from FashioNext, a fashion design competition sponsored by the Chicago History Museum that challenges established Chicago designers to create a garment using interior design textiles provided by Brentano.

Professor Woods said of the experience that Wang "warmly invited the students into the real world and helped them examine information... with a fresh voice." "If I could convince Iris to give repeat performances for future textile classes, I'd be elated," he added.

Iris Wang guest lecture at Columbia college
Wang uses a Brentano fabric to explain the difference between the fine yarns of a Chinese tapestry compared to the yarns of Western tapestries. Brentano shares fabric samples with students
Students follow along with a set of upholstery and drapery samples as Wang discusses various fiber characteristics.

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