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Designtex introduces the new generation of extreme-performance textiles


In 1994, Designtex introduced Hardwear, an innovative extreme performance wallcovering. Developed in collaboration with textile designer Nancy Giesberger, Hardwear employed PVC-coated polyester yarns in the weft, which were derived from a yarn type originally used in geotextiles to mitigate erosion in road beds. The resulting fabric offered excellent durability along with a sophisticated aesthetic.

Five years later, Designtex and Giesberger teamed up again to develop Sportswear, the industry’s first extreme-performance woven textile developed specifically for indoor and outdoor stadium seating. Sportswear’s robustness is due to its unique construction, which utilizes PVC-coated polyester yarns for both the warp and the weft in a dense weave that is ideally suited to upholstery. Famously, the fabric’s resilience was demonstrated by testing to 600,000 double rubs with a wire screen abradant.

In this new generation of Hardwear and Sportswear fabrics – once again designed in collaboration with Giesberger – the PVC-coated yarns have been re-engineered to clear them of phthalates (pronounced “thal-ates”), chemicals which act as endocrine disruptors and are typically found in the softening agents used in the manufacturing of PVC. In the new yarns, these chemicals have been removed and replaced with an FDA-approved softening agent that is used in the production of children’s toys, allowing the products to comply with the phthalates restrictions of State of California Prop 65. The new yarns have also been redesigned to create finer threads, allowing for greater subtleties in the weave construction. In addition, the inclusion of pearlized yarn in the fill direction introduces a wider range of colour and sheen effects into the collection.

The new Hardwear wallcovering (Armour) and four new Sportswear upholsteries (Bit, Bolt, Rivet and Rivet Pearl) utilize a variety of weave techniques to create subtle and sophisticated patterns. Complementing these refined constructions, the straightforward and robust colour palette has been selected to reflect the performance qualities of the yarn. While they offer excellent bleach cleanability and outstanding performance in challenging outdoor environments, the look of these styles translates easily into the hospitality, healthcare, contract, and transportation markets.

Says Giesberger, “This special yarn has been vastly improved since the first generation of Hardwear and Sportswear was introduced. The particular features of the yarn presented challenging design restrictions and complicated manufacturing considerations; the resulting product reflects the efforts of many people.”  

Adds Designtex president Susan Lyons, “At Designtex we are dedicated to developing products that respond equally to the demands of aesthetics and of utility, creating a seamless synthesis between the two. This new generation of Hardwear and Sportswear fabrics is the perfect embodiment of this core principle.”

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