Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Twill Fabrics: The Intersection of Luxury and Sustainability

I just had a fascinating conversation with Jeremy Beadell, the operations manager at Twill Textiles. We talked about Twill's line of sustainable fabric, the Climatex Lifecycle Home Collection, and about the intersection of luxury and sustainability. Twill Textiles is a collaboration between Sam Kasten, a weaver, and Suzanne Lovell, an interior designer. For them, producing a line of sustainable fabric was a matter of conscience, but it came about more through happenstance than strategy.

Twill's mission is to translate the handwoven artistry of Sam's work into a luxury fabric that can be produced in a commercial mill. It took some work to find mills that could produce the quality Sam wanted - Twill's standards had to be quite specific. "We're dealing with the craft that Sam produces," Jeremy explains. While researching this, Twill started working with small mills that use older time-honored methods for smaller-production runs. These mills, less focused on speed than the larger mills most companies use today, can more easily change their setups to create unique effects in the weave.

This quest for quality brought them toward sustainable practices as well. "A lot of the things we were doing a hundred years ago were green," says Jeremy. Many of the mills they use are located in small villages in Italy, Switzerland, and France, where all the resources they need are right around them. And producing Twill textiles in these mills directly supports these communities. That's real sustainability.

Then, of course, they produce a fabric line using Climatex Lifecycle yarns, which were awarded the Cradle-to-Cradle Gold certification by MBDC. They use natural fibers in all their other fabrics as well. They also focus on developing products that have a long production lifespan. These are all great sustainable practices.

The Climatex Lifecycle Home Collection comes to you at "loom-state," without any softeners or finishes. That gives it a fairly stiff hand that softens with time. The fabric is a wool/ramie blend designed for residential applications. It's not treated for stain resistance, but ramie is a very smooth fiber that naturally doesn't collect dirt. You can find Twill Textiles at Sloan Miyasato in the San Francisco Design Center, or at various other fabric showrooms around the country.

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