All the Feels: The Evolution of Performance Fabric Offerings

Performance textile technology allows for greater variations in color and feel.

Kimberley Wray
09/30/2019
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Allison Paladino E.J. Victor collection
From her E.J. Victor collection, Allison Paladino covered the Margie sectional in a Perennials velvet and a Ralph Lauren chair in a Perennials woven.

Performance makers continue to elevate performance fabrics for luxury and design in hospitality and residential settings.

Fashion trends come and go, but true macro trends — like the continuing elevation of performance fabrics in the residential design, hospitality and contract industries — have far-reaching and long-lasting implications. 

Take the impact of quickly evolving technologies on the look and, more importantly, the feel of performance fabrics. Softer hands and textures first moved fabrics from the outside indoors, driven largely by designers seeking to satisfy their clients' desires for white or light-colored furniture and drapes that could stand up to children and pets. Technology advanced still further, and performance in luxury installations was made possible. Now, it’s becoming the norm. 

As Allison Paladino, an internationally acclaimed interior and product designer based in Palm Beach who studied under the tutelage of Thomas Pheasant and is known for creating exquisite residential interiors, points out, “Nearly 80 percent of the fabrics I use in my interiors today are Perennials. When I shop for my clients, I feel every fabric. It has to be soft and rich and luscious, because I want their space to be beautiful, but also cozy, and warm. I take my clients into their showroom, and they are blown away by the spectacular quality of the velvets, chenilles, cottons, linens and wovens, which look — and feel — just like the beautiful, high-end fabrics I used to buy. I still do very special pillow fabrics or something fabulous on a chair like a cut velvet from Donghia or Osborne & Little, but the main fabrics, our upholstery fabrics, are Perennials now. They are taking the design world by storm with true luxury performance.”

Indeed, led by CEO of Perennials and Sutherland, Ann Sutherland, Perennials has collaborated with some of the most talented designers in the world with names like Clodagh, Rose Tarlow and more. At press time, a much-anticipated, exclusive to-the-trade collection by Timothy Corrigan was set for launch. “Perennials by Timothy Corrigan is a new direction for us, both in color and design,” says Sutherland. “Color is having a resurgence and we are thrilled to have Timothy escorting us into his vibrant world. Timothy’s sense of livable elegance perfectly aligns with the classic ethos of Perennials.”   

“I want to show clients that they don’t need to make a trade-off between elegance and everyday practicality,” says Corrigan. His collections will include Asian-inspired Eastern Eden and Lattice Quo, as well as Go for Baroque, reminiscent of a romantic damask. 

From Commercial to Residential

Nassimi performance fabric
Nassimi brings contract influences to residential. 

Long driven by the needs of the hospitality and contract industries, wonderfully soft performance fabrics are driving resimercial designs as well. Nassimi, a fourth-generation company that cut its teeth in faux leathers with an elevated aesthetic for the contract world, began applying the same thought process “to creating things you would want to sit on, that you want to have in your environment, whether it’s a hotel, a restaurant or a home, about six years ago. Now, we’re known for performance fabrics that are really durable and resistant, but also soft, and beautiful and luxurious,” relates Iwan Nassimi, Vice President, at the recent Showtime market. “I’d love to say we were geniuses with great foresight into what was coming with the blending of the different industries, with educational institutions starting to look more like boutique hotels, and national restaurant chains that want to look more residential, but everybody now wants to look and feel like they are home.”

Inside and Out

The story is little different at Valdese Weavers, a vertically integrated manufacturer and industry leader in decorative jacquard textiles and later its exclusive partnership with Crypton Home, which applied performance technology to natural fibers for a luxurious rayon/linen/cotton story at the high end coupled with great cleanability and durability. The company is now further blurring the lines between outdoors and in with its aptly named InsideOut performance fabrics. 

STI performance fabrics
STI blends outdoor colors with indoor yarns.

And, at the Showtime Market this spring, STI, makers of the Revolution performance fabric brand produced for interiors, added color and moved outside with a true outdoor fabric collection. “We introduced what we call our artisanal warp system which allows us to continually elevate what we can do with polypropylene,” says Anderson Gibbons, Vice President of Marketing. “We’re taking out the sheen with a de-lustered warp, and we’re lowering the denier to take the shine way. People want the performance of a synthetic fiber, but the feel of an organic.” 

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