TOTALLY COOL CLOTHING | WWW.CWB-ONLINE.CO.UK
PLAY IT COOL Newly launched Totally Cool Clothing offers UK manufactured schoolwear designed to improve the quality of life of children with sensitive and eczema-prone skin. It achieves this through the garments’ linings, which are made from a uniquely developed fabric called BamSil. Laura Turner speaks to company founder Judy Micklethwait to learn more.
Laura Turner: What was the inspiration behind Totally Cool Clothing’s launch? Judy Micklethwait: The inspiration was my eldest son, who had severe eczema from birth. It was incredibly hard to control, but one solution we found was in therapeutic undergarments prescribed by a dermatologist. The introduction of these undergarments – or “bandages” as my son called them - marked his, and our, first good night’s sleep in eight years. Being so effective, I was keen for my son to wear the undergarments 24 hours a day. However, this meant wearing them under his school uniform, which he refused to do for fear of being teased, so he only wore them at night. The turning point came when my son received an invitation to a birthday sleepover. He turned down the invitation because he was worried about his friends seeing his “bandages” beneath his pyjamas. I was devastated. It is bad enough watching your child feeling so uncomfortable in his own skin, but heart-breaking to see an eight-year-old so self-conscious they’d turn down a birthday party invitation. I desperately wished I could make his “bandages” look nicer, something my son would want to wear. After a lot of brainstorming I hit upon the idea of developing a clothing range with a discreet lining that had as many of the properties of the therapeutic undergarments as possible. Something affordable to produce, that wouldn’t be classed as a “medical device” or one that infringed on other companies’ intellectual properties. LT: Your experience as a mother of a child with eczema is obviously key to the concept
of Totally Cool Clothing, but did you have commercial experience to draw upon, too? JM: Yes, I have experience in both the commercial and healthcare worlds. On leaving school I became a tri-lingual PA and worked at the political/legal arm of the American film industry for the Motion Picture Export Association of America. From there I moved to Paris, where I worked in advertising sales for American Vogue magazine, before moving back to London to work for high-end interior design house, Colefax and Fowler. After that I changed tack and qualified as a physiotherapist, a short-lived career, as during my final year I met my husband and we started our family. This combination of experience has helped enormously when designing the product – balancing the healthcare requirements with the commercial viability whilst also meeting the practical concerns of busy parents. LT: Where did you start research-wise? JM: Once we had established the idea of doing lined children’s garments, I embarked on a two-year journey of exploration, enquiries and product development. I trawled the internet to check there wasn’t anyone else doing lined clothing; there wasn’t. The most closely aligned products I could find were knitted medical devices and silk undergarment companies offering products that most children wouldn’t want to wear. Lots of people told me it wasn’t possible to achieve what I wanted to do. That was until I found a wonderful designer in Oxford who really “got me”. She designed and produced prototypes, patterns and specs and guided
me through the vagaries of the UK textile manufacturing industry. She introduced me to one of the UK’s top textile manufacturers, who has 30 years’ expertise producing fabrics for all sorts of large, well-known fashion houses. This manufacturer understood and liked what we were trying to do, knew the properties I wanted to achieve with the fabric and, after a lot of discussion and sampling, developed a lining fabric, which we named BamSil. LT: What is BamSil? JM: It’s a lining fabric made from a unique blend of bamboo and silk, unique in that its percentage composition and yarn count is spun to our specifications and isn’t readily available. The yarn has thermo-regulating properties, serving to keep the wearer warm in winter and cool in summer. This also helps protect from dramatic changes in temperature – from a heated classroom to a cold playground for instance – which can play havoc with sensitive skin. Because BamSil is knitted to a specific weight and gauge it allows good breathability and air circulation whilst preventing excessive moisture loss from the skin, which is very important for eczema sufferers. It is extremely absorbent, wicks sweat away from the skin and is exquisitely soft, soothing and comfortable. The idea is to completely cover the body in good material that will help the wearer’s skin, not aggravate it. LT: Did you carry out wearer trials? JM: Yes, that was the next stage of research once we had samples and before we went into production. The first trial was with my son and NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015 - 60
Published on Dec 3, 2015