Once, having a young family meant putting your interior design dreams on hold. White couches plus juice boxes equaled disaster, and pets were a whole other source of textile-ruining accidents. But thanks to advanced performance fabrics, a busy family life and luxury furnishings now go together just fine. The only challenge is deciding which of the top durable fabric brands best suits your needs.
A classic performance fabric, Ultrasuede was invented in the 1960s by Japanese company Toray, which still owns the brand. It consists of three layers of vanishingly thin ultra-microfibers — surface, structure and scrim — bundled with a polymer binder to create a soft, suede-like texture that’s durable and resistant to spills and stains. A similarly priced performance alternative to good leather, it’s just as durable but softer to the touch and available in a wider range of colors.
Applications: Ultrasuede is tested for color fastness, air permeability (which prevents odors and mildew from becoming trapped), tensile strength, and abrasion endurance (passing over 200,000 ‘rubs’ on the Wyzenbeek standard test). Its exceptionally high performance in all of these categories make it ideal for upholstery, especially in sunny and humid climates. Ultrasuede is also a great option for pet owners; its microscopic structure resists scratching, it’s stain resistant, and it doesn’t have a weave to trap loose strands of fur.
Green credentials: Since 2010, Toray has been working toward a more eco-friendly Ultrasuede production process. Recent environmentally friendly innovations include the introduction of plant-based polyester into the formula for Ultrasuede, and a chemical recycling program that has reduced factory energy consumption and carbon emissions by 80%. The Ambiance, Dimensions and Marathon lines are made from 100% recycled microfiber.
Care: Ultrasuede requires minimal maintenance to keep it clean and fresh. It is machine washable, and liquid spills bead and run off without being absorbed. Most water-based stains can be cleaned up with just a damp cloth, while a mild detergent or solvent will lift off tougher, oil-based messes. Air dry, then brush the nap back into place with a soft brush.
These high-end fabrics are as strong as they are beautiful.
In 1993, midwestern entrepreneurs Randy and Craig Rubin developed Crypton, an antimicrobial, stain and water repellant fabric that was breathable and free of the vinyl coating that was previously considered essential. That gave Crypton a softer, more natural feel than its competitors and made it an ideal fit for high end furnishings. A heavy duty fabric that looks and feels like a luxury textile, Crypton is also resistant to fungus, abrasions, odors, and flames.
Applications: Crypton’s popularity has led to the development of several different lines, including Crypton Home (for domestic specifications) and Crypton Outdoor. Today, Crypton offers over 2,000 upholstery fabric options in a huge range of colors, textures and patterns, making it perhaps the most diverse producer of technical fabrics. In addition to fabric by the yard, the Crypton Home line includes furniture, decor, accessories, and a line of pet beds and throws, designed in collaboration with William Wegman.
Green credentials: Crypton is a greenguard Gold Certified technology, which produces low chemical emissions and is free of potentially harmful materials. A closed loop manufacturing process recycles waste, including 100% of fabric scraps.
Care: Crypton is designed to resist liquids, causing them to bead and run off. Most stains can be cleaned with laundry detergent and water. Crypton also sells professional grade stain removers, fabric disinfectant and a pet safe cleaning spray.
Opting for a performance fabric costs a little more, but the ease of living they bring to a busy household is well worth the added expense. Ask your interior designer about upgrading to performance fabric upholstery that can withstand years of exploration by little hands and paws.