Massif Mill Technology
Massif was recently featured in a Popular Science article about the science of flame resistant (“FR”) gear. We appreciate that Popular Science came to us as experts in the field, because we see ourselves as a technology company that creates apparel—rather than an apparel company alone. What many people don’t know is that we develop the fabric technology, make our fabrics, and create all designs in house because we are owned by our mill, Antex Knitting Mills, in Los Angeles. The result is a unique relationship in the FR world which allows us to consistently push the technological envelope while maintaining the most rigorous FR and Military standards.
This close relationship creates direct communication between Antex and Massif which delivers a sophisticated understanding of technology across departments. “I was looking at tech sheets the other day to better understand how the fabrics would interact with each other in the garment in ways that a lot of designers don’t. Designers usually don’t get their hands on that sort of raw data,” said Design Manager Sam Elm. Her ability to understand that raw data is the result of an open line to the experts at Antex as well as watching how the fabrics she is using to build garments are made in Los Angeles. “If I don’t understand something, I can physically go to the mill, look at it, and say: ‘OK, now I get it,’” Elm said. This understanding and open line of communication creates the type of quick adaptation necessary to remain at the tip of the spear of design and technology in our space. “If I am asking for something that is not possible, I can physically go to where it is happening and understand the process and understand how I can either adapt what I am doing to make something easier or problem solve,” Elm said. “We talk it through with them so we can have a full, deep, understanding of the process. It is important to know how the sauce is made.”
Massif’s Director of Textiles and Technology, Steve Tacy, has more than three decades of experience in the textile world and appreciates having the resource of other deeply knowledgeable textile experts to run ideas by at Antex/Matchmaster. “At our fingertips is the plethora of knowledge that comes out of Antex/Matchmaster. They have a whole organization of top notch 30-plus year employees working on these problems in other arenas as well as our arena for years,” Tacy said. “We have direct access to all of that technological information that has built up over the years across a wide variety of performance textiles. We can all sit and say, ‘here’s the problem, what do we want to tackle first.’” Massif’s ability to tap into that expertise has a trickle down effect throughout the entire company. “It educates down through the organization as we gain a better understanding of the complexity of everything we do. At the end of the day, each new development offers new insight into complex issues and a better understanding or ability to predict what performance criteria might or might not be affected with new developments. You cannot overeducate in this arena. That knowledge passes down and it creates world class associates at the end of the day,” Tacy said.
That world class level of education is key in Massif’s space in the apparel world. We have to create garments for end users who have some of the toughest jobs in some of the most extreme environments in the world. The specific requirements of those end users would be hard to design for in the easiest of circumstances but are particularly difficult with FR materials. “The requirements of being successful in the space we operate in is more unique than most people realize,” said Massif Director of Business Development and Government Sales, Charles Sexton. “That is the reason why there is so little performance based flame resistant apparel. If it was easy, everyone would do it.”
Daniel Tenenblatt, President of Massif and Vice President of Antex Knitting Mills, explains that this extremely close relationship creates a tight feedback loop that allows Massif to quickly use technology to address design challenges specific to making the highest functioning FR gear. “Sam [Elm] might have a question about a fabric: ‘We are putting it in the sleeves. Can we add a little more stretch or make it heavier?’ That question gets to me right away, and we can move quickly on it,” Tenenblatt said. The team at the mill utilizes cutting edge knitting and dyeing equipment and a certified in-house testing lab to address direct requests from Massif’s design team. This allows us to adapt quickly and stay at the forefront of the FR space. This isn’t just beneficial for our team. It also helps the end user. “Having the fabric development people in on the meeting where the end users are talking about what they’re trying to accomplish, how they are wearing the garment, what’s working for them, what would be a great addition, or what is on their wish list is one of the things that makes Massif unique,” Tenenblatt said. “It allows us to bring garments to end users with features and performance characteristics that are tailored to their particular needs.”