In today's Brand Spotlight, discover "Beautiful Possibilities" with Ultrasuede HP!
The world’s first ultra fine microfiber was invented in the early ‘70s by a scientist at Toray, in Japan. Shortly thereafter, it was branded Ultrasuede, brought to the U.S. and sold through a mill called Springs Industries. It was launched in the fashion industry by American designer Halston, who made a shirtdress using Ultrasuede that would become famous. It was the first high-fashion designer garment that could be machine-washed and dried. That dress is still considered to be a prized find in vintage fashion stores!
Toray could not produce Ultrasuede yardage fast enough. Shortly thereafter, the furniture weight was developed and it quickly became sought after as a replacement to real suede, and as an alternative to natural leather covers for upholstered furniture. Furniture designers from the period like Vladimir Kagan loved using Ultrasuede. Kagan created his iconic “tight-construction” modern upholstery designs based on fabric’s ability to stretch just enough without sagging. The fabric was also an anomaly since it was durable, cleanable, breathable - and luxurious.
The innovation used to produce the ultra fine fiber to make Ultrasuede fabric remains unduplicated today. With over 95 solid colors, Ultrasuede remains a popular fabric in fashion, interiors and many other industries.
How has your brand evolved over the years?
In 2009, Ultrasuede began to incorporate recycled polyester content, using polyester recycled from waste from other Toray business units, including the film used to protect plasma screen TVs. This change resulted in a reduction of carbon use and CO2 emissions by 80 percent. In 2015, Toray again transitioned the content, this time incorporating partially plant based polyester. Their goal is to achieve 100 percent plant based content by the year 2025. Parent company Toray is committed to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and they invest heavily each year in companywide sustainability initiatives.
Tell us one thing people might not know about your brand/product
Ultrasuede is aligned with the most recognized brands in technology, automobiles, fashion and footwear. (We are not allowed to publish brand partner names.) Selling to these brands is easy, because Ultrasuede delivers so many benefits in the production process, as well as to their end users. And no other fabric enjoys a 49.9% brand recognition rate by consumers.
What’s your brand motto?
Our tag line is Beautiful Possibilities. It’s the only luxury fabric that offers high-performance benefits, so it’s easy to imagine using it for any project!
Describe your aesthetic in 3 words.
Luxurious, performance, colorful
What was the inspiration behind your latest fabric release?
We work with a professional colorist who has experience in the interior design industry for both contract and residential to synthesize global trends. Our 14 new colors incorporate several green and blue options, since people now want to feel more connected to nature; it’s their way of bringing the outdoors inside. Softer shades like Tea Rose and Lilac have also been embraced by our interior designer customers, especially.
What’s unique about your latest collection?
No other fabric line has 97 solid shades to choose from, running the full gamut from neutral to bright hues.
What is the most sought after fabric/color/design from your entire line?
Two of our top sellers of all time are Wine ‘n Roses and Real Teal. These are not shy colors! We were having a moment with Polar white in home decor, which came after a long period of French Grey, but as mentioned, greens, blues and pinks are trending now.
What projects are on the “must make” list right now, especially with this collection?
Ultrasuede is well known in the DIY crafts segment. Martha Stewart loves Ultrasuede! It’s also popular for DIY interior projects like recovering dining chair seats and stools because it’s super easy to work with, and the fabric edges never fray. As a solid color, it’s also easy to cut to size as needed, with very little fabric waste.
Pillows made with removable covers are popular, because the fabric is machine washable and dryable, which makes cleaning a snap. People love to use Ultrasuede to make pet accessories such as coats, collars and beds; again, because it’s cleanable, and also because it won’t retain odors. Ultrasuede remains a go-to selection for fashion projects as well. Just think of the Halston shirtdress for inspiration!
What do you love most about creating - or seeing customers create - DIY projects with your fabric?
We love to hear DIY stories and to learn about all of the many ways to use Ultrasuede. The key ring tassel is an all-time hit, and we know they make great gifts! Other favorite projects include puppy and baby gear – who can resist the cuteness?
What current sewing or crafting trends inspire your team/designers?
Upcycling is the new recycling, so we love to see previously loved furniture take on a new life covered in Ultrasuede.
What’s next for your company?
We are currently creating a line of prints launching later this year that would be perfect for interiors and fashion projects.