At Kaden, we pride ourselves on our high quality, comfortable, and durable fabrics. Our jersey fabrics are buttery smooth and unlike other mountain bike jersey fabrics out there. People often ask us, “where do you find your fabrics?” Well, you’re in luck because we’re going to walk you through our process. Keep in mind that this is the process for stock fabrics, or fabrics that are already created and are waiting to be purchased. The process for designing and developing custom fabrics is different and can be more complex.

Fabric vendor at a trade show


Step 1 – Find the fabrics:

Oftentimes, our search for new fabrics begins with lots of internet searching. Depending on what we’re making, we’ll search for different fabric types such as polyester, nylon, wool, bamboo, etc. There are hundreds of different types of fabrics within one category so we may narrow it down by fabric weight and sub-category (fabric blends, desired usage, etc.). We may also find fabrics by attending trade shows. Many of the big fabric vendors go to these trade shows, so this is a great chance to meet with a bunch of vendors in person and see and feel a bunch of swatches in one place.

Step 2 – Order swatches:

Once we find something that looks good, we order a swatch of it. The swatches are usually pretty small, only a few inches, so when the swatch arrives, we test it as best we can by stretching it, rubbing it together, etc. over and over to see how it reacts and holds up. We usually order dozens of different swatches at a time from each vendor because it’s so hard to tell what it’ll be like from the photo and description. We might have to go through 100 swatches to find one that’s perfect.

Fabric swatches

Step 3 – Make a prototype:

After we find a swatch (or two) that seem suitable for what we’re creating, we’ll order a few yards of it. This will allow us to sew a prototype (proto, for short) of the garment, so we can test it out and put the fabric through the paces. We’re looking for fabrics that are soft, comfortable, have the right amount of stretch, can deal with lots of sweat, and are durable too, so the wear and wash testing is crucial. We make these hand-sewn prototypes in house so we can do it quickly and inexpensively.

Kaden Apparel prototyping

Kaden Apparel fabric stretch test during prototype process

Step 4 – Test the prototype:

We aim to test each fabric in a variety of different conditions so we can get a true feel for it. Once we like how the fabric performs ourselves and it meets our standards, we’ll have a few other people test it out as well to get additional feedback. If the fabric didn’t meet our standards, we’ll go back to step one and look for more fabric. Sometimes, we don’t even make it to the proto phase because it’s immediately clear that the swatch we thought was going to be great isn’t what we envisioned.

Kaden Apparel prototyping / sewing

Step 5 – Production:

We may have to go through that process multiple times, but once we’re totally happy with the fabric and it’s been tested thoroughly, we’ll order what we need for production. Yay!

There you have it, a “simplified” look at how we find and select fabrics. There’s a lot more that goes into each step and each phase takes longer than you would think. This should give you a general understanding of our process for finding and selecting the perfect fabrics for our bike apparel.

For a full look at our products and to get a jersey of your own, visit our online store.