Continous quality tests at Marie Jo

Perfect processing, the classy mixture of different materials and the high art of design and cutting are what make lingerie so precious. Less obvious for the women wearing it but also crucial when it comes to a premium manufacturer such as Van de Velde is consistent quality control. Together with Carmen van Waeyenberghe, Memmert distributor in Belgium, AtmoSAFE was allowed to take a look behind the scenes of the Belgian company headquarters in Schellebelle.

With its brands Marie Jo, Prima Donna and Andres Sards, the Belgian Van de Velde group is one of the top 3 in the premium segment of the lingerie market in Europe. Aside from lingerie, the group also manufactures functional sports underwear and swimwear. Bart Van den Abeele, Warehouse manager and ic raw materials at Van de Velde, explains what the secret of the excellent fit of the luxurious lingerie is and why only few manufacturers know how to work with this kind of precision. “A perfect cut is important so that the fabrics are not subject to tension while they are processed. For one thing, the sizes remain the same, for another thing, applications and fine lacework can be applied precisely.”

Traceability in the entire process

All fabrics and accessories are tested after their arrival in Schellebelle and receive a tracking number so that possible processing errors can be traced during the entire production process. Regular evaluation talks with the suppliers from all over Europe are held (only the foam cups are delivered from overseas), to guarantee that the quality remains on the required top level. After the cut has been made in the Belgian headquarters of Van de Velde, the single parts are sent to the company-owned sewing rooms all over the world. Here too, the quality philosophy does not allow any compromises. Therefore, Van de Velde does not assign orders to subcontract manufacturers. The final products are sent back to Belgium for the final check and then distributed all over the world.

Testing of textiles in the laboratory

During the incoming inspection, samples are taken from all the fabric rolls from the beginning and end to ensure a consistent high quality of the entire fabric roll. Afterwards, the delicate fabric samples undergo strenuous endurance tests in the laboratory. Among other things, colour fastness, light resistance and fastness of washing are tested and always supervised by the trained textile experts at Van de Velde. Fabric samples for swimwear have to pass a salt water test in addition. The fabrics are soaked in salt water and afterwards they are fastened on DIN standardised multifibre adjacent fabrics in order to test discolouration, the so-called bleeding, on more fibres simultaneously (in this case acetate, cotton, polyamide, polyester, acryl and wool). To do so, fabric samples and multifibre fabrics are pressed in between plexiglass panels and placed in a Memmert heating oven UNB 200 for four hours at +37 °C.

Els Jacob, analyst in Schellebelle, especially appreciates the easy operation and the quick recovery time after opening the door of the Memmert heating oven since it is almost incessantly in operation due to the many tests. Skin-coloured, pastel-coloured and white lingerie undergo a phenolic yellowing test. With this, it is tested to what extent the fabrics tend to turn yellow when in contact with phenols in the environment during transport or while being stored. The fabric samples are wrapped in testing paper that has been primed with phenol according to the EN ISO 105 standard and then are put in the Memmert heating oven for 16 hours at +50 °C. After the testing period, a possible yellowing of the samples is determined by a standardised grey scale.

AtmoSAFE would like to thank Van de Velde in Schellebelle and especially Els Jacob and Bart Van den Abeele as well as Carmen van Waeyenberghe, Memmert distributor and head of Voor’t Labo in Belgium for their friendly support when creating this article