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Performance fabric choices spread

Faux leather takes on new colors

A recent article described outdoor spaces as "the biggest trend this year. Outdoor spaces that feel like your living room with a better breeze. Think candles and chandeliers hanging from trees, couch-style seating and dining sets that encourage lingering meals on long summer nights."

That kind of romance language wouldn't be surprising in a shelter magazine, but the article was in Fortune, which just proves everybody is getting on the outdoor bandwagon. Exhibitors at Summer Showtime 2006 in High Point, N.C., were no exception.

Fabrics produced or finished especially for outdoor use were widely available and more suppliers than ever were touting new partnerships and arrangements in China to better service outdoor furniture manufacturers sourcing from there, including Bomar Trim and Wearbest Sil-Tex, producer of Bella-Dura performance fabric.

Several fabric suppliers entered the outdoor category for the first time, including Crypton Super Fabrics, which debuted an outdoor performance fabric called In & Out, and major fabric supplier Quaker Fabric, which launched its much-anticipated Terrazzo line of outdoor fabrics, featuring a three-year limited warranty.

Tropical print specialist Big Kahuna also took aim at the outdoor segment at Showtime with a new line of acrylic and polyester tropical prints for outdoor applications. "Tropicals have become a design category which manufacturers and consumers have embraced," said Bill Fisch, president, Big Kahuna.

Faux leathers, which are a major force in indoor upholstery covers, are available for outdoor applications as well, from such sources as Ultrafabrics and Valtekz, a division of Valley Forge.

Ultrafabrics launched new colors — blue, white, red and yellow — of its supersoft Brisa Soleil, a breathable water-, animal- and sunshine-friendly faux leather that upholsters like fabric.

Valtekz, a specialist in upscale faux leathers, introduced several items in its weather-resistant Luxo-LW line of outdoor faux leather with a nanoparticle topcoat that gives resistance to ultraviolet rays, as well as oil and dirt. The material is extremely durable and easy to clean.

Waverly launched a new, softer finish on its Sun N Shade outdoor collection of breathable spun polyester fabrics which stand up to the sun and wear, resist mildew and mold and cleans up with soap and water.

Another player in outdoor trim is Phoenix Trim Works, which has produced unbranded outdoor trim for years and recently established a licensing agreement with Sunbrella that will allow its customers to use the brand name and logo, as well as a licensing agreement with designer Joe Ruggiero to design trim for both indoor and outdoor applications. The company introduced new product from both collections at Showtime.

Constant improvements and innovation in technology have created engineered yarns of polyester, acrylic and olefin that feel as soft as cotton and take color beautifully. Consumers are responding to the fashionable results in outdoor fabrics and smart producers of outdoor furniture and their retail customers should take full advantage of the innovation to market their goods.

 Crypton Super Fabrics showcased its first-ever outdoor performance fabric called In & Out in the Runway Fashion Show. The black-and-white polyester In & Out is shown here with another high-performance indoor Crypton fabric called Suede.  Crypton Super Fabrics showcased its first-ever outdoor performance fabric called In & Out in the Runway Fashion Show. The black-and-white polyester In & Out is shown here with another high-performance indoor Crypton fabric called Suede.
 Glen Raven debuted plenty of summertime shades, including Corolla, Meridian and Edenton, all Sunbrella fabrics of solution-dyed acrylic. Glen Raven debuted plenty of summertime shades, including Corolla, Meridian and Edenton, all Sunbrella fabrics of solution-dyed acrylic. 
 Models show off patterns from the Rio collection of outdoor fabrics by DuraCord including Rosewood, Woodlands Ocean, Tranquility and Serenity.  Models show off patterns from the Rio collection of outdoor fabrics by DuraCord including Rosewood, Woodlands Ocean, Tranquility and Serenity.
Soft, UV-resistant and breathable, Brisa Soleil from Ultrafabrics, shown in Cruise blue, can take the elements in stride.   Soft, UV-resistant and breathable, Brisa Soleil from Ultrafabrics, shown in Cruise blue, can take the elements in stride.
 Corolla from Glen Raven is a summery rendition of Sunbrella solution-dyed acrylic, designed for uses outside or in.  Corolla from Glen Raven is a summery rendition of Sunbrella solution-dyed acrylic, designed for uses outside or in.
 Jungle Leafy, an acrylic outdoor fabric introduced by tropical print specialist Big Kahuna, is shown in a natural colorway.  Jungle Leafy, an acrylic outdoor fabric introduced by tropical print specialist Big Kahuna, is shown in a natural colorway.
 Freeport, from the Richloom Solarium Collection of weatherproof polyester, blooms in summery shades of coastal blue and can withstand outdoor elements.  Freeport, from the Richloom Solarium Collection of weatherproof polyester, blooms in summery shades of coastal blue and can withstand outdoor elements.
 Arcade, a Bella-Dura high performance indoor-outdoor fabric from Wearbest Sil-Tex, combines high style, color and resistance to stains, microbes and bleach.  Arcade, a Bella-Dura high performance indoor-outdoor fabric from Wearbest Sil-Tex, combines high style, color and resistance to stains, microbes and bleach.
 Valtekz Luxo LW Tumbled Steer in a khaki colorway looks like leather, but is weather-resistant, durable and easily cleaned. Valtekz Luxo LW Tumbled Steer in a khaki colorway looks like leather, but is weather-resistant, durable and easily cleaned. 
 Duracord  Duracord's Beaches Collection includes Paradise in a striped ocean aqua.

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