Magazine December 2020

Unprecedented times, unprecedented challenges

The world is changing and so are the ideas of what a high-tech knitting mill should look like and what it should provide. What started as a dream shared by former colleagues, John Elmuccio and Jon Lewis, is now becoming a reality and is developing quite interestingly through Evolution St. Louis.

Dream team

As the paths of the two companions kept crossing over the past years, they realized they shared the same philosophy and had the wide-spread industry knowledge and experience to really make a change: There had to be a better way than catching up with orders produced abroad, chasing the lowest price and dealing with the logistic issues of an overseas production.

Blowing the dust off the traditional supply chain, they had a vision of building the most highly advanced knitting mill in the USA with a substantial number of high-tech machines that would allow them to take on any order and process it in no time. They set out to build a company with the whole supply chain in one place – from centralized processes to design to logistics, short reaction times, environmental-friendly production and a happy staff.

The last piece of the puzzle fell snugly into place when they met the team from Saint Louis Fashion Fund. After talking to them they just knew that St. Louis was the place where everything they were looking for came together: The spirit of a historic textile center that is in the process of revitalizing the sector, technical schools where local employees could be hired right on the doorstep and an infrastructure that allowed them to put their plan into action.

Their vision started to take shape in May 2019 when they opened Evolution St. Louis. With a growing number of high-tech 3D and knit and wear® flatbed knitting machines and the advanced knitting technology and knitelligence® software offered by Stoll, Evolution St. Louis can design and produce an impressive range of items, including fully fashioned knits, complex shapes, footwear and smart textiles, supplied among others to the apparel, footwear, health and automotive sectors.

Short distances – quick results

Experts in the textile industry with many years of experience, the owners of Evolution St. Louis felt that the traditional supply chain was literally "out of fashion". Lead-times were way too long. So, what they did was to shorten the supply chain and locate production locally in the United States. Their concept allows them to produce small lots and quickly change the items produced. Brands and retailers are now able to better keep pace with emerging trends and react to – not just anticipate – customer demand. The short distances not only ensure a quick response but also underline an environment-friendly attitude.

Talking of the environment, not only the small distances give proof of Evolution St. Louis's commitment to sustainability. When they were looking for a location for their project, the owners decided to refurbish a building rather than build one, installing sustainable systems in every respect and reducing their carbon footprint wherever possible. With the selection of their machines they follow the same line: the fully fashioned items can be produced with almost no waste.

With their high demand on quality, flexibility and their commitment to sustainability, it is no surprise they also use Groz-Beckert products.

In its manufacture – from the cotton to the store – a common T-shirt can travel between around 18,000 and 30,000 km. With a shorter production chain and local production, this distance can be shortened by up to 85 %.