jL from Black Milk here with another friendly public service announcement!
Today I want to spend a little bit of time addressing a couple of questions I have been asked this week about Black Milk printed leggings, particularly with respect to sheerness. (By the way, I am referring here to the standard Black Milk printed leggings, not other printed styles like HWMF, or Toasties).
To make things easier, I'll try to give you as much information as possible by addressing three major questions.
- What kind of sheerness/opacity should we expect from normal Black Milk printed leggings?
- What problems need to be corrected with the sheerness/opacity of our printed leggings?
- Moving forward, what are we doing to fix these issues?
Cool? Okay, let's get into it. :)
1. What kind of sheerness/opacity should we expect from normal Black Milk printed leggings?
Sheerness refers to the extent to which light gets through a particular fabric. We can also call this the fabric's 'opacity', i.e to what extent the fabric is opaque. Is sheerness a good or a bad thing? Well, it depends! For example, with pantyhose it's personal preference whether you want something sheer or opaque. Both can be manufactured to suit your preference.
Of course, there are often trade-offs involved. If you want a pair of pantyhose that is very light, you are going to have to accept that they will be sheer. If you want a pair of pantyhose that is fully opaque, you are going to end up with quite a thick fabric on your legs. That's just where the technology is at.
And it's not just in pantyhose where these trade offs happen either. For example, it is common knowledge that most sports compression leggings go very see through at the back. The companies that produce these leggings (and charge premium prices for them) are perfectly aware of the fact that there are leggings are very see-through, but they are willing to make that trade off so that they can keep the fabric thin and comfortable.
For us as a company, we similarly make these kinds of trade offs. For example, I absolutely love the Black Milk Matte leggings. They are wonderfully soft and stretchy, but not particularly opaque. We could get something much more opaque, but it would be far less wearable in terms of fit and comfort. So we go with the Black Milk Matte fabric because it has so many great qualities. It's a trade off.
At Black Milk there is only one product line where we take a really strong stand on opacity, and that is our black gym leggings. If you wear our black gym leggings, they will not go see-through! Of course there are other fabrics that you are always going to be safe wearing in terms of opacity. For example PVC, just rock that all day every day in your most colourful undies, no worries.
Okay, so let's get specific and talk about Black Milk printed fabrics.
Several things are going to affect how sheer/opaque a printed fabric is. There is the composition of the fabric, the weave of the fabric, the colour of the fabric, and the type of design we actually printed on the fabric.
Because we are based in Queensland (where it is quite hot) we tend to like lighter fabrics. It's a great way to not die in summer. As a result the standard Black Milk printed fabric is actually quite light. This means it's not as opaque as other fabrics, which are much heavier. Couple that with the fact that some of our prints are quite light in colour, there are some styles where you are simply not going to get as much coverage as you would with a heavier fabric and a darker colour!
For example, one of the first printed leggings I ever made was the Anatomists, I did a black version and a white version. The white version was printed on a light Black Milk fabric and had no ink on your backside at all! Needless to say you didn't get a lot of coverage from that particular garment. So in this particular case, if girls wanted to wear the white Anatomists, they had to go with, ideally, a nude G string.
Sometimes I get asked whether, if you get a really, really good fabric, is it possible to wear dark underwear with a light design and the dark colour won't come though. Unfortunately that is just not the case! From my own experience, it doesn't matter how good the fabric is, if you are wearing dark underwear under leggings with a light design and light fabric, the colour will, to some degree, come through. Easily fixed, just wear light underwear! Of course, if that's not your jam, just stick to thicker fabrics like HWMF or Toasties. :)
So the extent of the sheerness of a pair of printed leggings really depends on the design, and the lightness or darkness of the colours. (TIP: It's always good to snip off the white tag on your leggings because it can show through a little, depending on the colour of the leggings. Due to the lightness of the fabric that we are using, the white tag may be visible through the leggings but doesn't mean they're faulty. Having said that, we are working on some black tags at the moment which will work better for the darker designs).
However, there is one other variable that can unfortunately affect the sheerness of the fabric. This is unexpected variations in fabric weight. When we buy a fabric, we are given its weight specs, and we assume that what we receive is accurate to those specs. In a perfect world, that's how it would work. However, as we have learnt, it doesn't always work that way, which brings me to my next question...
2. So what problems need to be corrected with the sheerness/opacity of our printed leggings?
When we buy a fabric from a supplier, there is a standard agreement that there is an acceptable weight variation tolerance of around +/- 5%. Our current QC process has been to take random swatches from a number of rolls (not all) and record the lowest value and the highest value for each batch of fabric we receive, to make sure that it is within tolerance.
Going back through our records, the fabric we are receiving from our supplier has been generally within tolerance (5%). If there was some variance, we were finding that the fabric was generally coming through heavier rather than lighter. That's a good thing.
However, after talking to customers recently we decided to QC every roll from the latest batch of fabric we received. We found that there were quite a number of rolls (but not all) that fell towards -5%. So, although strictly speaking the quality was within tolerance, there were more weights towards the -5%, which is different to what we have received in the past.
And that's a problem. We are extremely frustrated that these fabric variances might be preventing us from fulfilling the promise that we make to every single customer - to give them the most awesome pair of leggings we can.
The products we produced with rolls from this batch were the following:
- Tartan Navy leggings
- Galaxy Teal leggings
To make matters more complicated, we also made some garments in these styles using rolls from other batches that had much better fabric weights (same fabric, different batch).
So the long and the short of it is this, if you have bought one of these styles of leggings and you love them and are happy with them - awesome, keep rocking out like the total boss that you are. However, if for whatever reason, you're not 100% happy with what you have (maybe because of the fabric weight), we're more than happy to give you a full refund and hopefully we will get this situation turned around as soon as possible so that you can get back to rocking out like the total boss that you are!
And also, I want to again take the time to apologise for any experience you have had shopping with us that has not been 100% awesome.
Of course, please bear in mind that just because there is a degree of sheerness with your printed leggings, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are faulty! As I was saying, we do use a light fabric, and so some degree of sheerness is perfectly normal and to be expected. :)
So where do we go from here?
3. Moving forward, what are we doing to fix these issues?
A lot. Let me reassure you, we are really working hard on this issue!
First, we are conducting more tests currently to determine exactly what weight is or isn’t acceptable and then we will be renegotiating a new standard with our supplier. We want something that our customers absolutely love, and we want it consistently.
We will not release any more regular printed leggings until we are confident they are of the right quality (so you will see no regular leggings in the latest release on 21 July). We will also be going through our warehouse and checking the quality of all the printed leggings we have, as well as weighing each roll of this fabric that we receive before we start manufacturing.
So that's the plan!
I hope that all this information is helpful. I'm sure there are many other questions that people want to ask, please be patient, and we will get around to answering them! (We are looking at doing a lot more video content to keep you guys up to date with all the information you need, as well as all the cool things that are going on at Black Milk).
As you can imagine, this is a super challenging period in Black Milk at the moment, but I know that all the team at Black Milk are working really hard to create products that we and our customers are really proud of. Your patience is appreciated!
Again, a massive thank you to all the girls who have continued to support us and believe in us as we continue on this exciting little fashion adventure that is Black Milk. :)