At Empa in Switzerland, a tie, bow-tie and pocket handkerchief have been made of high-tech fabric plated with 24-carat gold. In 2011, the tie has been manufactured in a first limited edition of a dozen.
luxury is most associated with just one color: gold. Thanks to a new
coating process developed by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for
Materials Science and Technology (Empa), a nanometer-thin layer of pure
gold now lends ties and pocket handkerchiefs that authentic gold sheen.
The yarn, which is coated using a high-tech plasma process, is soft and
easy to weave. It is also washing machine compatible. A limited number
of gold ties will be placed on the market before Christmas, and further
fashion accessories will follow in 2012.
radiates with a violet hue, at least when it is sprayed onto a surface
atom by atom, as can be seen by looking into a plasma coating plant when
in operation. This particular plant, which is about as large as a
household refrigerator, can be found on the premises of the Tersuisse
spinning mill in Emmen, Switzerland. Inside the apparatus a piece of
gold is bombarded with fast moving argon ions which knock atoms off the
metal surface. These gold atoms fly off and land on a polyester fiber
which is slowly pulled through the machine.
is the beginning of the production process which for the first time in
the world creates a textile material permanently coated with a durable
layer of gold. The precious metal remains attached to the fiber even
when it is rolled, kinked, woven in a loom and given a final wash.
A decade of R&D
textile specialists at Empa in St. Gallen, Switzerland, had been
researching for ten years to find a method of finely dividing titanium,
aluminium, steel, copper and silver and then allowing these powdered
metals in atomic form to rain onto polyester fibers. Originally, the
project aimed to create silver-coated fibers, for which there were ready
markets. Silver-coated fibers possess an antibacterial effect,
something which is of interest to sock manufacturers. In addition,
fashion designers were seeking durable silver coated textiles.
Furthermore, silver conducts electricity extremely well, making the
Empa-developed fiber eminently suitable for use in various sensors and
as an antistatic filter material for industrial applications.
project partners eventually had the idea that what was possible with
silver might also work with gold. In January 2010 they began work on the
“Gold Fiber Project”. Production of this coating has stabilized and the
first kilometer was generated in the summer of 2011. In 2012,
production is expected to increase. Further processing of the fiber is
completed by two project partners, the Weisbrod-Zuerrer AG spinning mill
in Hausen am Albis, Switzerland, and the embroidery firm Jakob
Schlaepfer in St. Gallen.
The cost of exclusivity: 7500 Swiss francs
Tie, bow-tie and pocket handkerchief will be marketed by Weisbrod-Zürrer AG. The Jakob Schlaepfer company will use the gold yarn in its Winter 2012/13 Haute Couture collection.
of the first customers for the gold fiber was Weisbrod-Zürrer AG, a
spinning mill which specializes in exclusive decorative textiles, ties
and accessories and which has also partnered Empa projects in the past.
Attempts had already been made previously to create a gold tie using
conventional techniques. A textile fiber was wound with the finest gold
wire in the same way a guitar string is made. However, material woven
from the fiber had a rough, metallic feel to it and it was also not
durable enough for commercial use. As a result it was only possible to
make the freestanding front face of the tie in gold thread—those parts
which were mechanically stressed, the knot and the neck piece, had to
new gold tie made using the Empa plasma coating process arguably boasts
a much more stylish appearance. The golden material, woven from gold
fiber and black silk thread, covers the surface of the entire tie and is
very soft to the touch. Other items of clothing from the same material
are also imaginable, including decorative pocket handkerchiefs,
bow-ties, scarves, lace decorative work ,and even handbags. To date,
material enough for three ties has been manufactured, but a dozen more
should be ready in time for Christmas. The first, worldwide exclusive
series, tailored in the Zürich tie manufactory Hofmann und Co AG will be
on offer to gentlemen with an exclusive sense of style at Swiss francs
How much gold is there?
is a question which is bound to interest not just the proud owner of a
gold tie, but those around him as well—particularly when the wearer
steps out into the sunlight and his neck apparel begins to shimmer with
its characteristic hue. The calculation is quite easy; a textile panel
large enough to make three ties is coated with 25 g of pure, 24-carat
gold. Each tie therefore glows with 8 g of gold.
is little chance that these exclusive gold ties will become
mass-produced fashion accessories in the near future—even at full
capacity production is limited to a maximum of 600 pieces annually for
the world market. According to Empa, far fewer will actually be
produced, because a portion of the gold-coated thread will be reserved
for other project partners. The Jakob Schlaepfer company, embroiderers
and manufacturers of decorative textiles, will also use the gold yarn
for items in its Winter 2012/13 Haute Couture collection.