Linen and velvet have dominated upholstery fabric choices for so many seasons that these two workhorses are now overexposed. In response, the market has turned toward textiles with a different look and feel. Some of the newest options are thicker and heavier. But that doesn’t mean they can’t also be refined. Wool fits with all these characteristics, and according to vendors at the Showtime textiles market, wool and faux wool are trending.
Lady Fabrics says wool’s incoming popularity is not really new. In fact, wool has been quietly building for a decade. In response to its current elevated status, Lady Fabrics has gone beyond it's lineup of all-wool fabrics, developing a wool/alpaca blend, which takes both eye and hand up-market. Look for it to debut in spring of 2015.
Durability and antibacterial properties have made wool a factor in contract and hospitality settings. When it comes to residential use, Lady Fabrics credits millennials for placing wool in the spotlight. That’s because this group, more than any other, values wool’s eco-intelligent character, including its all-natural, breathable and biodegradable characteristics.
Jonathan Adler’s newest collection for Kravet includes a wool called Minnelli, fabulously colored in solid orange, turquoise, caramel or charcoal. Why a new wool? This company sees it being specified more often by interior designers, who are using it not only for upholstery, but also on the window. Further, they view it is an interesting alternative to chenille.
American Silk Mills is doing well with wool on the contract side, so they created a sueded fabric that mimics it for residential use. Brentwood Textiles developed a polyester faux-wool plaid to take advantage of both trends (plaid and wool). It was well received by medium-high upholstery companies at market. JB Martin sees a renaissance in mohair-inspired velvets, with a wool-like personality that appeals, even when the fabric is made of acrylic.
Sunbury Textile Mills confirms that wool-inspired looks, are already having an impact on product development. One of this company’s newest designs, which debuted at Showtime, suggests a wool blanket. It has a rustic and hand-woven look that appeals to a growing number of consumers who are attracted to an ethnic-Americana design sensibility.
But don’t underestimate the ability of the look of wool to transition into elegance via menswear options that Sunbury and Trend Fabrics (the Vern Yip collection featured a new faux-wool range) believe are equally directional. They look tailored, refined and they have longevity—like a good suit.