Where Textile meets Technology: An Interview with Grit Peschke, SPIRIANT (Video)

Onboard Comfort

Grit Peschke, Textiles Engineer at SPIRIANT is giving us a unique, in-depth look at the ever-important relationship between technology and textiles.

With over 27 years in the industry, Grit has gone from dressmaking to engineering, travelling around Istanbul and working closely with factories everywhere from Eastern Europe to Asia. After being responsible for uniforms at Lufthansa, she joined the SPIRIANT team 10 years ago and brings a high level of technical knowledge.

Here she talks about the marriage of textiles and technology, upcoming fabric trends and how airlines can mitigate costs.

What is the most common question an airline asks you about textiles?

Airlines always want to know about the durability of the textiles they are choosing, and which has the highest life cycle.

To answer this, there are a lot of technical nuances that go into creating the perfect fabric. I think about further requirements from the very start and choose the best fabric options that can translate the design vision given to us by the customer.

The main way I can know if a textile will have a high-life cycle is by doing extensive wash trials.

What goes into testing for durability?

A lot! Wash trials sound easy but you need to know all the requirements of the industry washing process. This includes: temperature of the washing process and tumble dryer or ironing afterwards. Also, if the laundry uses chlorine for disinfection. If they do, you need to change the normal dye into a special dye (because the durability of color is one of the most important aspects of the design).

There’s so much to think about!

How does SPIRIANT help airlines turn graphic designs into actual textile pieces?

It’s my job to turn a paper design into the technical specification. It’s an exciting part of the job to see paper designs turned into something structural, going from a flat drawing to something 3D that has movement and life. It’s a multi-faceted process with lots of stakeholders.

Firstly, it’s very important to find the perfect fabric, one that translates the design but can also uphold the operational side of things, like the industrial washing process. We then define the sizes and measurements and workmanship, create a technical specification and the go through the sampling process in close collaboration with our procurement team and our suppliers.
This is where technology comes in: we test all product developments, carry out wash trials and durability testing. At the end the client will receive the final specification and a prototype.

We extend this process to wide variety of textiles onboard; pajamas, duvets, head rest covers, table linen, just to name a few! All of these items have different considerations. For example, pajamas are a disposal item so we don’t have to follow the industrial washing cycle. You also have to consider female and male passenger and different sizes and styles you may need to provide. SPIRIANT works as a consultant for airlines to guide them through this maze of options, as it’s our area of expertise.

Which innovations and trends are you seeing in on-flight textiles?

The biggest trend, not only in the airline market but also in the textile industry, is ‘sustainability’.

We’re thinking in terms of recycled and fair trade materials and sustainable fibers. It’s exciting for me to hear that our customers are asking for these products, as it’s something I’ve been interested in and developing over the last few years so we are very well prepared for this new phase.

The fashion industry has also been key in pushing this trend. As people become more aware of ways to be sustainable in their own lives, they’re demanding more of the brands they know and love too. Awareness is increasing, and compared to other materials on-board airlines, textiles are a relatively easy way to integrate an eco-friendly aspect to an airline’s portfolio (with efficient costings too)!

Our stand at WTCE this year will showcase our exciting textiles portfolio, with future collections and a peek at what’s to come this year. I’ll also be on hand to demonstrate in person how technology is integral to textiles – it’s not something people automatically think about when it comes to fabrics.

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