Material Concepts, the US Distributor for DuPont Tyvek, recently interviewed Betabrand Designer Steven B. Wheeler about his selection of Tyvek for the Space Jacket.
“The next big venture for some private companies, such as Virgin Galactic, is making outer space the next tourist destination. While all of the details are still getting worked out on bringing people to outer space, one aspect of the master plan that has already been thought of is what people will wear while in space. It is very possible that space explorers will be wearing none other than Tyvek. That’s right, this seemingly ordinary, yet wonderfully extraordinary, product is capable of withstanding the harsh conditions in outer space. As mentioned in an Outside Online article, Betabrand has created a Space Jacket, which has an outer layer made from Tyvek.
Betabrand describes Tyvek as “light, breathable, and resilient.” Furthermore, designer Steven B. Wheeler enthusiastically told Material Concepts that “I am often inspired by the materials themselves, and up close, Tyvek 1443r has such a cool look to it that really does seem space-age. It called to mind the outer layer of an astronaut’s EVA (extra-vehicular activity) suit, so that’s where I began my visual research. I decided Tyvek would be a great outer layer because of it’s color, texture, and low weight. The other materials like the silvered nylon and Primaloft insulation were chosen because of their looks and high-performance characteristics, that complimented the Tyvek shell.”
Wheeler also told Material Concepts that he “hired a contract quilting service to sandwich the layers together and run a computerized box quilt pattern over the yardage, which had the added bonus of softening the Tyvek (type 1443r arrived very crisp and papery, but the process of constructing the jacket made it very supple as it broke in).” Furthermore, he said that “laying my pattern out over the quilted yardage preparing it for cutting was easy, as I could trace the pattern with a marker directly onto the Tyvek without needing to pin. When sewing, I found needles didn’t last as long as I am used to with typical fabric. Actual construction and handling the garment during sewing was, if anything, easier than usual with woven fabric because of it’s initial papery texture that could be folded and creased by hand …”
Read the full article here: http://bit.ly/BetaTyvekDupont
Upon graduation from high school, Steven became an apprentice tailor, where he spent three years learning custom garment creation, pattern drafting, and alterations. He was introduced to old-world techniques, and fell in love with all the unseen engineering that goes into a well-tailored garment.
Steven moved to San Francisco in 2003, simultaneously building an alterations and custom apparel business while earning his BFA in Menswear Design. Since then, Steven has designed apparel for companies both large and small before embarking on his most recent comedic misadventure as a designer at Betabrand.
He continues to maintain an optimistic outlook on life despite this last fact.