We caught up with FLŌA’s Head of Design to learn what makes our base layers so remarkable…
During his 20 year design career, Sean Pankhurst has created critical garments such as lifejackets and buoyancy aids, through to football kits for International football teams.
With names like Nike and Dunlop securely under his belt, along with a fastidious attention to human movement, Sean was able to take a fresh look at the humble base layer and elevate it into a high performance garment designed for free flowing movement and endurance in some of the world’s harshest environments.
What inspires your work, Sean?
I’m just fascinated how the body works, and finding how you can push it to the limit. The clothing you wear has a direct synergy with our movement, so I’m always looking to get the best performance out of a garment. It forces me to look at what elements are best to combine in its construction.
I’ve always loved this Japanese approach to design, where you focus and obsess over each detail. It means there’s a reason behind every component, that it has a role to play and is not just there to look good, but serve a purpose.
What are the common problems with base layers? What did you have to overcome in designing the FLŌA base layer?
Seaming can be a big problem in high performance garments. If not constructed properly you’ll feel them rubbing on your skin, which is distracting when in a state of flow, but also can end up chaffing, which will ultimately affect movement, and performance.
This is why we implemented a seamless technology in our construction. Traditional base layers also tend to ride up a lot, exposing skin and bunching up.
I also find if a base layer doesn't have the right elastication in it, and doesn't stretch with the skin, then it can be quite restrictive. So when designing the FLŌA base layers, we wanted to produce a fabric that could stick with the form of the body whenever it’s moving.
What design elements are you most proud of with FLŌA?
A lot of thought was put into performance, movement and stretch, but all of that becomes irrelevant if you overlook comfort.
The most important thing is that your base layer fits like a second skin and moves with you. It was a big issue getting the placement of the panels and sweat cooling channels exactly right. This plays such a big part in comfort, but also in the garments ventilation and performance.
What technologies did you bring in for this project?
Merino has a lot of cool natural properties that make it perfect for base layers. For instance merino attracts sweat and pulls it away from the material itself to keep it dry. It’s got good natural loft too and it doesn't carry odour.
We blended it with polyester and elastane to get the right stretch and movement in the garment too. It’s a fine line working with technical features and you have to apply obsessive detail, making sure that each element is there for a reason, not just to look good. Function definitely influences design.
How can users get the most from the product?
They just need to put the product on. They’ll feel the benefits of it and know that the details make the difference in comfort right away.
How important is the state of flow to your work?
Very important. I like to be shut away on my own, listening to music without distractions.
Anything else you want to say?
I hope everyone appreciates and enjoys the work we have done here. We feel it's the best product that can be on the market. Evolutionising not revolutionising.
With an insatiable thirst for travel, Nick Baines is a journalist based on the UK’s south coast. With more than 20 years experience in snow sports, he’s contributed features to publications all over the world.