Fabric and Fabric Companies- Another Perspective

This last week, April 15, 2013, I had occasion to speak and email quite a few different companies. And, it was really interesting, giving one food for thought on what the companies deal with.


The first company was one in France. I needed to put in an order for the Newspaper Fabric, which I did. I also needed samples, which had to be prepared, to be shipped with it.



While waiting on the samples, a woman who buys from me, wrote, asking if I had access to a specific fabric, that she had bought out of England. And she sent me a link to a photograph of it. Always curious about fabric, I perused that seller’s fabrics, and came across one that was also interesting.



It was very similar to the
Madonna Magazine Fabric.



The Madonna Magazine Fabric is made by the same company as the Newspaper Fabric. So, I wrote my contact at the company, asking if it was one of their fabrics. His answer really surprised me!

It turns out it is a knock off, and they have lawsuits pending against the company that produced it, in five countries, with more in the works! While I know it happens, this was the first time I had actually run into it! He also said it happens a lot.

So, here is a company, with their own design team, that spends a lot of money coming up with good products, that has to spend money to protect that product. Think of lawyer bills and court costs… not to mention paying people to keep up on what other companies are manufacturing.

No wonder fabric prices keep going up!




Another interesting conversation came about because of the Venice Fabric. The Venice toile fabric is unique, and people just like the idea of it, as well as the actual fabric.



In January of this year, I finished a bolt of it, and pulled my back-up bolt. When I unwrapped it to cut it for an order, I stopped dead in my tracks. We have carried it forever, and have never had an issue with the fabric. But, this bolt had quite a few issues.

Fibers had been woven into the fabric that should not have been, making it nearly three times as thick as it normally is, and it had no drape. Beyond that it had blue dye dots all over it. While it blended with the blue used in the print, they should not have been there.

I headed to the phone to call the company. They would recall the fabric, and I requested a new bolt. To my surprise, and for the first time ever, they were out of it!

Not a problem, when would it be in. The answer was mid-March. Now, that did surprise me. The company that makes it does not print to order, they carry stock of their fabrics, so to be out of it at the company level, with a due date three months out was odd. But, I figured, I had just missed the last bolt they had, or someone had bought all remaining stock… things happen like that.

So, March came, and I called the company, wanting an update on it’s arrival time. I had several people who wanted it, and I wanted to keep them up to date.

The lady in customer service, is really nice. She said the arrival had been pushed back until mid-April. Okay, nothing to be done. It is not as if one can go out and produce it themselves… patience is a virtue. I wrote the customers who wanted it, and left it.

Around the first week of April people were again writing – when would their favorite Venice toile be in? So, I called the company.

It turned out that the fabric is printed in the US. But, the ground cloth is woven over-seas. And the mill that weaves it, had not been able to produce the cloth. Whether it was having mill problems, or the thread used for the weaving had not been spun, or there had been a crop failure, I don’t know.

I said I had people clamoring for it, she said she had people yelling for it!

But, think about it… here is a company, who just, literally can’t get the fabric, as somewhere back up the line there is an issue!

While a large company might use a different mill to produce the cloth and then get it shipped to be printed, due to the unique fabric of this particular cloth, this company can’t. It is milled very specifically on specific looms for this specific print.

This is something we don’t think about, but fabric companies have to deal with. Food for thought!



Another conversation this week centered around the white embroidered seahorse fabric. A lady wrote that she wanted twenty five yards of it. I was down to around twenty, but from two different bolts. The dye lots for the ground cloth on this vary enormously. I would need a new bolt.



The embroidered seahorse fabrics are produced two to three times a year. The company waits until there are enough orders to do a run, with a few bolts left over for them to inventory. They don’t have it constantly in stock.

I called the company to place my order. It was back-ordered until late June. That was not a surprise… there have been times an order has taken four months to get.

But, what was interesting is that the reason for the wait.

Though the fabric order to the mill had gone in, the run had not happened, as the mill that does the embroidery was booked until later this month.

While some companies own the mills they use, not all do. And, obviously, scheduling could be an issue if some other company booked the mill for a large run.



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