Wearing It Well; Shirts Are Becoming Smart. Andrew Preston Investigates Fabrics That Are Crease-Free

By Preston, Andrew | The Mail on Sunday (London, England), December 2, 2001 | Go to article overview

Wearing It Well; Shirts Are Becoming Smart. Andrew Preston Investigates Fabrics That Are Crease-Free


Preston, Andrew, The Mail on Sunday (London, England)


Byline: ANDREW PRESTON

Ironing is an essential part of the grooming process, and is a therapeutic and deeply satisfying activity. Absolute rubbish, of course.

There's no denying the momentary thrill of putting on a crisp, well-ironed shirt, but the process of getting to that stage is fiddly, time-consuming, a logistical nightmare and downright dangerous. Lest we forget, one poor woman ended up in hospital with burns last year, after ironing her trousers while she was still wearing them (don't pretend you haven't tried it yourself).

But hope could be at hand. Thanks to new technology, we might actually be entering an iron-free age, with many new fabrics that need little or no ironing at all. Marks & Spencer offers 'Easy Iron' and 'Non-Iron' shirts, as well as machine-washable suits. Further up the fashion scale, Ted Baker provides a lightweight and crease-resistant Endurance suit, which can survive the traumas of travel and come out of a suitcase unscathed.

Now, the Corpo Nove design company in Florence has come up with a prototype shirt that irons itself. The fabric of the shirt is woven from fibres of an alloy called Nitinol, mixed with nylon. Nitinol has what is called 'shape memory', which basically means that it can be scrunched up into a ball and then returned to its original shape when heated to a certain temperature. This can be done with a quick blast from a hairdryer, or just a dose of body heat, so long as you don't mind looking like a crumpled wreck on the bus into work (so what's new?) until it warms up sufficiently.

Corpo Nove describes it as 'a traveller's dream', but convenience comes at a price - the shirt costs an amazing [pound]2,500 for the prototype, which is not as yet available to the public. …

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