Showtime’s date change doesn’t dampen fabric offerings

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In Covington Fabric and Design’s showroom, designer Hilary Farr shows one of her new fabrics, Hello Polly.

HIGH POINT — The International Textile Alliance Showtime fabric market kicked off with its new, earlier date last week, moving the show up several weeks from its former December timing.

Although this date change, first announced by the ITA in March, created sampling issues for some resources, the market did not suffer for a lack of new product as manufacturers brought out hundreds on new SKUs and made waves with major business announcements, tech innovations and more.

Among them was Covington Fabric and Design’s full launch of its collection with design personality Hilary Farr. Best known for her role on HGTV’s “Love It or List It,” Farr’s Love It collection was initially previewed at Braxton Culler during October High Point Market on the designer’s furniture collection.

The collection is made up of 63 unique SKUs in shades that spans from neutral grays and browns to a refreshing fuchsia and blush assortment that made a big impression. Standout patterns included Lounge Lizard, a texturized lizard skin look available in several shades, and Come Together, a detailed embroidery that depicts scenes of people paired with animals and a patterned floral that plays on Farr’s theme of celebrating merging arts and cultures.

“I wanted to give people some color options to play with,” said Farr. “You have your neutrals here, but then you can throw in one of the brighter colors and just have a lot of fun with it.”

Also playing up color this round, Culp grouped its new and existing patterns into color inspirations, highlighting everything from a deep green color story to a more natural brown theme. The biggest hit, according to Culp design and sales consultant Kay Lawrence, was a grouping of blush pink the company calls Rose.

“The color isn’t really new, and it’s been kind of popular for a while, but it’s really gotten a lot of attention this market,” said Lawrence.

Throughout this market, pastel shades such as Culp’s blush pink were popular.

At Premier Prints, a minty blue and blush pink pairing found its way onto several new print varieties, doing especially well on new and existing animal skins. Skins, according to the digitally printed fabric resource, have remained among its bestselling offerings for several seasons, prompting more introductions this round.

Mergers and acquisitions

At Richloom Fabrics Group’s brand, a similar pastel blue found its way onto new color groups from the company’s outdoor Solarium brand, too.

Color stories were hardly the big news at Richloom though as the company spent much of this event celebrating the official acquisition of N.C.-based Chambers Fabrics.

Richloom, which began its relationship with Chambers Fabrics about six months ago as a strategic partner, announced the completion of the acquisition on the first day of Showtime. For Richloom, the move represents an opportunity to begin producing more domestically, and COO Michael Saivetz has confirmed that customers can expect to see fabrics produced as a part of the acquisition from all of Richloom’s brands at upcoming Showtime events.

“Domestic product will complement our existing network of globally sourced fabrics, offering our customers a diverse choice of fabric applications,” said Saivetz about the new domestic production opportunities.

American Silk Mills celebrated acquisitions this market, too, as the fabric resource showed off the first results of its partnership with parent company Sutlej Textiles. Called ASM Loft, the collection boasts a sophisticated look and feel with complex yarns and constructions at a lower price point (body cloths run between $9 and $14 per yard, while jacquards top out at approximately $15 per yard) thanks to the production capabilities of Sutlej’s India-based facilities.

Working off the idea of creating casual luxury, according to American Silk Mill Creative Director Susan Hedgecock, the collection’s color palette includes a spectrum of organic hues such as blush, thistle, linen, graphite, sage and indigo. Those colors can be found across a range of textured plains and classic patterned pieces.

In addition, American Silk Mills introduced its highly detailed Anthology collection of refined velvets, epingles and silks spread across three color palettes. Inspired by the company’s extensive archives, the fabrics feature Chinese Chippendale and Japanese stylized florals, classic damask patterns and more.

Also celebrating partnerships this market was commercial performance fabric brand Bella-Dura which launched its residential performance line: Bella-Dura Home. Debuting with more than 50 patterns in multiple color ways, the brand offers its commercial strength in residential-focused designs such as multi-toned plains and more decorative looks with reimagined leaf, line and stripe work.

In colors, a full range of neutrals is offered with special attention paid to blues, especially a smoky teal highlighted by Sarah Keelen, director of design for outdoor and performance for Bella-Dura’s parent company Swavelle.

“Blue is kind of our signature color at this point,” said Keelan. “These shades bring something new to the table.”

Feature focus

Valdese Weavers had a lot to celebrate and show at this market as well, as the company launched an expansive color customization program for its Crypton Home Fabrics pieces and announced that the Crypton Companies would be continuing its exclusive partnership with the company, allowing Valdese Weavers to manufacture Crypton Home Fabric through 2024.

In addition, the company showcased a hand-woven look, called Fiber Workshop, across its Circa 1801, Dicey Fabrics, Home Fabrics by Wesley Mancini and Valdese Weavers brand design teams. The collection made use of natural materials and several other unique materials and designs to create an artisan look.

A brand-new yarn for the company called “the artisan twist,” which is being made at the company’s N.C.-based facility, is featured prominently throughout.

At Valdese Weaver’s performance brand Insideout, a performance leather look caught a lot of attention. It offers a realistic hand in a variety of colors like navy, natural brown and more that pair well with the brand’s other performance textiles.

In real leather, JBS Couros focused on a cleaner story with its new Kind Leather. Made using 46% less water and 42% less chemicals than the traditional tanning process, Kind Leather offered people a unique new option this market.

At Moore & Giles, the semi aniline Regency made a splash as a scratch-free option in a span of furniture-friendly browns, blacks, grays and cream shades, and at Crest Leather, the company’s new showroom was big news this market. Making the move from the temporaries to a permanent showroom on the third floor of the Home Fashions Resource Center, Crest Leather showed off a lightly buffed, slightly distressed aniline leather called Old English.

Elsewhere in the resource center, STI’s Brentwood Textiles brand featured unique, phrase fabrics with crossstitch-like wording created for pillow placement. Designer Kathy Dotterer said she started creating the pieces custom for clients and is now looking to move them into larger production.

At Sunbrella, pillows were a focus, too, as the performance fabric brand rolled out a range of engineered pillow prints.

Complete with cut-and-sew lines, the designs coordinated with Sunbrella’s other indoor-focused introductions this market and included textural line work, a continued play on the handmade look and contrasting black-and-white color palettes that paired with gray and brown mixes.

The new product offering got a good initial reaction from customers, according to Greg Voorhis, executive design director at Sunbrella.


This Texas Farmhouse Can Sleep 27 People and We Want to Move in Immediately

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Even though Houston, Texas, is known for its sprawl, when you’re a seventh- generation Houstonian like Courtney Robertson, you need more land—for parties, holidays, family reunions, skeet shoots—than big-city limits will allow. So, six years ago, the residential real estate agent, wife, and mom to eighth-generation Texans Ellie (8) and Robbie (10) began her hunt for a large plot of land in the teensy town of Bellville (population 4,236), located a “weekend doable” 90 minutes away. “I knew if I bought land any farther, no one would bother leaving home to use it,” says Courtney. After looking at plenty of no-gos—think properties littered with oil rigs and power lines—she and husband James finally laid eyes on 120 lush acres with built-in trails, a perch-stocked lake, and ample room to build a farmhouse (okay, family compound) that could comfortably sleep 27 (!), yet feel casual and welcoming enough to foster familial bonding. “We didn’t want the scale to make things stuffy. It’s about having fun,” says Courtney.


farmhouse that sleeps 20


Nothing says “Guests are here!” like the telltale crunch of tires—here, a 1950 Chevy pickup—on a river gravel drive. Courtney and golden retriever Cash await the cavalcade of family and friends in front of her farmhouse—a mix of Austin stone, aluminum, and fiber cement siding.


farmhouse that sleeps 20


Courtney and designer Ashley Goforth artfully outfitted the frequent gathering spot with materials that are pretty but not precious. For example, soft gray concrete countertops pair well with limed oak barstools upholstered in an indoor-outdoor fabric. (For similar, try “Ticking Indigo” by Bella Dura). Reclaimed beams and a ceramic tile backsplash add to the room’s sit-and-stay-awhile appeal.

farmhouse that sleeps 20


Courtney mixes cocktails at a bar surrounded by leather-and-metal barstools from CB2 and an iron chandelier.

Open-Door Decor

farmhouse that sleeps 20


After guests are greeted with the requisite “howdy,” they enter the airy, light-drenched entry featuring a vaulted tongue-and-groove ceiling. The iron chandelier and vintage hide reinforce the Lone Star State look, while an antique bench gives visitors a spot to literally kick off their boots. Hand-picked greenery adds a casual organic touch to a poplar table.

Master Bedroom

farmhouse that sleeps 20


In a nod to the many fish and deer that populate the property, Courtney added “School O’ Fish” pillows and a faux deer trophy to the guest room, along with sophisticated stripes (“Ruben Henna” by Romo on the custom headboard and dust ruffle) and a graphic Swiss cross area rug from CB2.

CategoriesBella-Dura Performance Fabric

Defining performance: Fabric sources seek standardization, clarification of terms and qualities

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revolution fabric 3-2019

HIGH POINT — As the popularity of performance fabrics in the textile industry has grown, the rise of one-off uses of the term has also expanded. And some in the industry worry that, without some regulation, confusion and misunderstanding about performance fabrics may damage consumers’ understanding of the category.

“There is zero understanding of what makes a fabric a performance fabric,” said Nolan Mitchell, Richloom Fabrics Group’s vice president of upholstery sales and merchandising. “Somebody may say that it’s durable if it does 50,000 double rubs, and that makes it performance. Other people may say it has to be cleanable, others that it has to be liquid repellent.

“From a fabric supplier to a furniture manufacturer to a retailer, everyone has a different take on what their definition of performance is.”

From the array of definitions of “performance,” a handful of qualities rise to the top: durability, cleanability, water repellency and fade resistance.

“There isn’t an enforced set of features in the industry that a fabric has to have to be called a performance fabric, but a few usually show up,” said Mitchell.

Along with those debated features, issues with quality also complicate matters. Traditionally, “dated” standards and minimums that were not created to reflect the specific goals of performance fabrics are all that exist to regulate the category, according to Milliken Specialty Interiors’ development manager, Ron Swindle.

“Companies can get outside certifications, such as a Greenguard certification, and do testing for portions of their performance fabrics’ features, but there is nothing definitive for the industry,” said Michael Saivetz, Richloom Fabrics Group’s chief operating officer and vice president.

Testing and certification specific to performance fabric would only work for the industry, according to Saivetz, if defining performance standards started at the retail level. When it doesn’t, fabric companies must rely on their own set of definitions for qualities, making it difficult to get the industry to agree on one definition of what a performance fabric has to be.

“If you get everyone and their competitors together, of course they’ll make the argument for their own features, so you need to start with looking at what features consumers want and then move on to fixing the testing of those features,” said Saivetz.

Another problem for creating a standard definition is enforcing minimum quality testing standards, as much of the testing takes place in house and allows companies the room to test as they see fit.

Along with that, Saivetz points out variables in the tests themselves can be another hurdle for standardization. For example, Saivetz says if a company tests its fabric’s cleanability with a salsa stain and lets the stain sit for two hours while another company lets it sit for just a few minutes, then the results are skewed.

Creating more rigid guidelines specific to performance fabrics features could help alleviate that.

“The only thing that could fix the certification gap for performance fabrics would be someone creating updated, standardized testing with more strict guidelines and minimums,” said LeAnne Flack, Milliken Specialty Interiors’ marketing manager.

A better job of telling the story

For now, many fabric suppliers are relying on their own performance stories to help differentiate themselves and their product from the mass collective of performance fabric brands.

“If everyone is claiming the same performance story, then it’s up to us to show our customers what makes us different and teach them about what a real performance fabric looks like,” said Anderson Gibbons, Revolution Fabrics’ vice president of marketing.

At Covington Fabric & Design, Vice President of Design Chari Voehl said the company is focusing on its design aesthetic, its line coordination and its merchandising to set the brand apart. This, she said, helps the company create “comprehensive stories” in looks that give consumers options beyond what may be found in other product.

“Whether it’s polyester or cotton, if you like the pattern, you like the pattern. You have to give the consumer designs they want to pick up,” Voehl said.

Similarly, Revolution Fabrics is leaning on social media to tell a story about its eco-friendly product to win over customers and build a “recognizable brand name” that people trust and seek out.

“Revolution Fabrics uses polypropylene, which is a byproduct of oil refining and natural gas processing,” said Sean Gibbons, CEO, “and before it was reinvented in the 1960s as a material to make things like fabric, it was being burned off and discarded. So by using it in our product, we’re starting with a green product because we’re upcycling something that would otherwise have been thrown away.”

Polypropylene fabric, which are sometimes called olefin fabric, according to Sean Gibbons, also require less energy and water to make because it is not grown somewhere and then shipped like a natural fiber, and it produces little waste. In addition, the fabrics do not require chemical washes to achieve cleanability and durability, so Revolution Fabrics do not come in contact with PFC chemicals, which, according to Sean Gibbons, have been linked to harmful health effects.

To communicate all of that information, Anderson has focused on bolstering Revolution Fabrics’ online presence through video, blog and social media content creation.

“Our goal is to create and use transparent online content that helps the consumer with a problem they have and that helps them understand our product and its story,” said Anderson Gibbons. “We want to become a household name and product that people like and understand.”

Richloom Fabrics is working with creating its own eco-friendly story, too, citing its “clean chemistry” as a large part of what it uses to differentiate itself from other performance fabrics. Richloom Fabrics’ chemistry, according to Mitchell, creates no harmful emissions for the environment and is safe for use in the home.

“Our product, its design and its quality, defines us, but our safe chemistry is what we really use to set us apart from other brands.”

Long-term dedication to performance

At Sunbrella, Glen Raven’s performance fabric brand, the company is leveraging its long-term track record to help differentiate itself from other brands.

“You have to look at our brand and its integrity and history through the decade,” said Harrison Hood, an indoor sales manager at Glen Raven. “The closest competitor we have has only been around a handful of years as opposed to our almost 60, so a consumer purchasing a sofa with Sunbrella on it has likely had a positive experience with our fabric elsewhere.”

Sunbrella’s brand recognition has afforded the company many opportunities, Hood said, but ultimately it is Sunbrella’s solution-dyed acrylic yarn that has the biggest impact on the performance fabric’s brand definition.

“Our added finish is just as good if not better than any other finish you’ll find in the marketplace, but all of those finishes wear off, and when they do — for most of those brands — you just have a regular old fabric underneath. When our finish wears off, you have the cornerstone of our brand, the solution-dyed acrylic fibers.”

Crypton cites that same dedication to performance fabrics as the company’s biggest defining feature. Senior Vice President Jack Eger said for Crypton performance fabric is not just the “bandwagon we’re jumping on,” giving the company a head start on scientific development, innovation and quality control.

“Performance is all we do, and it has been for 25 years. It is quite literally what defines us,” said Eger. “We’re also differentiated by our ability to innovate and set scientific benchmarks that raise the bar for others.

“Most of our competitors don’t have the expertise in fabric science that we have built at Crypton, so our fabrics are a lot more resilient than typical fabrics,” he continued. “We’re able to set our quality standards higher than industry criteria suggest, to ensure that every yard of fabric meets an incredibly high brand-wide standard. Nobody that started making performance last month or last year is going to have those distinct advantages.”

Education key to addressing misinformation

Bella-Dura, which utilizes a modified polypropylene yarn to create its fabrics, separates itself from its competition by producing contract-grade solutions for the home, contract, hospitality and healthcare markets.

“We use an improved technical fiber that meets and beats industry standards, so we try to market those enhanced features first,” said Susan Lobel, Bella-Dura’s vice president of marketing and brand development.

Bella-Dura also puts an emphasis on producing educational content, Lobel said, in the form of sales training, video content and brochures as a way to help everyone — from furniture retailers to consumers — understand the features of performance fabrics.

Recently, the company launched a “Think you know performance fabrics?” advertising campaign to highlight the misinformation that can exist in the industry.

Milliken Specialty Interiors has addressed its own educational efforts through things like webinars and other content, looking to teach people about its “minimal chemistry” story and approach with Breathe, the company’s performance fabric brand that uses natural or recycled fiber and a plant-based water repellent.

“Without any kind of standardization or certification, the burden of education really falls on companies,” said Flack.

Creating easy to understand branding and language has been key for Culp’s LiveSsmart performance fabrics according to Tammy Buckner, Culp’s senior vice president of design and marketing.

“We try for a simple story. Everyone needs to be able to understand what it does in the simplest terms. The more complicated it gets, the more confused they are.”

With that, Buckner said, Culp tries to educate users on its fabrics’ features and its defining points, such as its status as a mid-price performance fabric, using more approachable language and explanations.

“I think more and more the whole industry, and the consumers too, are expecting fabrics to perform,” Buckner said. “At some point, that’s just going to become the norm.

“So it’s important to build our performance brand and our customers’ understandings of our fabric now, because performance is here to stay.”

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