Behind our Nitrile Glove Prints

This season, NOT created our first original prints. Here are a few words from NOT designer Jenny Lai.
NOT by Jenny Lai
Jenny Lai: I love to discover and collect odd, functional items from our everyday lives that I find to have unexpectedly beautiful design, such as a brush in the shape of dentures or a hair barrette made up of braided synthetic hair. One of the items I've been drawn to are varieties of nitrile coated gloves offered at hardware stores. I've picked up a few in Taipei, in the suburbs of New Jersey... really anywhere I go, I love popping into hardware stores or shops selling industrial materials. 
This print comes from one of the gloves I collected - an orange knit glove with a delicate, intricate honeycomb pattern of nitrile rubber strewn over the palm.  I collaborated with my good friend, artist, and textile designer Maggie Sampson to develop the print, from up close photographs I took of the texture.  The print is extremely zoomed in, increasing its unrecognize-ability. For our AW18 womens collection, the print is used in fitted long sleeved tops operating as a kind of second-skin. The lycra material offers a sheen which plays off of the shine of the rubber. 
For our SS19 Mens collection, the texture from the palm of a green nitrile coated glove is repeated infinitely like an aerial topographic view. 
nitrile coated glove
These nitrile coated gloves really sparked the idea for the entire collection.  I was so drawn to the combination of knit and rubber - a feeling of the familiar and domestic with something foreign and almost alien-like.  I love items we put on which give us enhanced ability, from the extraordinary gear that astronauts wear to something as quotidien as hardware gloves that allow us to handle sharp, rough activities.  That is where AW18-SS19 collections took me - to create clothing that made us feel we had the extra ability to take on a foreign environment, to endure, to fight, to adapt. 


Check out this amazing footage of how nitrile coated gloves are industrially made:




Maggie Sampson: I was intrigued by Jenny's idea of transforming a surface by enlarging a detail.  I took a single unit of the pattern created by the grip on the palm of the gloves and repeated out into an infinitely repeating design. Rendering the tactile texture of the glove onto flat,  smooth fabric gave it an other worldly quality, like an alien skin. It was interesting to see how this transformation forced you to re-examine a pedestrian object.  Having grown up on a farm, an object like a work glove evokes memories from my childhood, such as putting up sheep fence.  It was a surreal and beautiful experience to see it come down the runway. The thing that I love about Jenny's work is that exploration and ideas seem to be a central part of her aesthetic and I was glad to be a part of it for this collection.

Maggie Sampson is a designer, artist and activist based in Queens, New York.  For the past five years, Maggie Sampson has worked in New York City as a print designer for apparel. Currently, when she isn't creating prints for J.Crew, she maintains a personal practice of drawing and painting, as well as exploring how art can be used as a tool for community-organizing. Recent projects include organizing collaborative art projects in rural communities to help give a voice to small farmers. 


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