• Cindy W. Hodnett

Wearbest to drop residential fabrics except for Bella-Dura

Will focus on performance brand
 From the New Traditional Lifestyle, part of the Bella-Dura Lifestyle Collection, are these patterns (from top): Makayla, Grasscloth, Genoa.From the New Traditional Lifestyle, part of the Bella-Dura Lifestyle Collection, are these patterns (from top): Makayla, Grasscloth, Genoa.

NEW YORK — Wearbest, a New Jersey-based textile mill, said it will no longer supply new upholstery product for the residential market with the exception of the Bella-Dura performance brand.

Company officials said the suspension applies solely to new developments and will not affect any reorders, which the company will continue to produce for the full term of agreement with its customers. Wearbest, a fourth-generation mill, has been weaving decorative upholstery fabrics for the residential and contract markets since 1980.

"This was a strategic decision that came after much thoughtful consideration," said Irwin Gasner, president of Bella-Dura and Wearbest Sil-Tex mills. "While we have enjoyed many fruitful years serving the residential market with our core Wearbest product offerings, the time has come to streamline our business and refocus our investments."

Gasner said one core residential designer position will be phased out as a result of the shift, and all product will still be woven at the New Jersey facility.

"We believe (this is where) the future of the industry, and our company, lies," Gasner said. "We can better serve our customers and ultimately their customers here, with our award-winning Bella-Dura brand."

He said Wearbest's clients have already seen changes in the Bella-Dura product line resulting from the promotion of Melissa Battah to director of contract and MJ Ramos' appointment as senior stylist for residential. Susan Lobel was hired in June as vice president of marketing and brand development.

"Bella-Dura is growing more than 20% annually," Gasner said. "The line is growing exponentially and with the rollout of new yarns, colors and construction, 2014 will be the largest addition to the line since its inception."

Lobel said that the new focus on Bella-Dura will allow the company to streamline production and focus on telling the Bella-Dura story to designers. "It's essential for designers to understand that Bella-Dura fabrics go beyond the ordinary, and that they can be used for any application, from residential to contract, indoor to out."

Lobel said she is promoting more interaction between designers and distributors to educate designers about the Bella-Dura brand.

"For purchasing, we always lead designers to our distributors, but it is our job to make them aware of the brand and its features so they will ask for it by name when shopping and specifying for their own projects," she said.

The new tagline for Bella-Dura is "Performance by Design" and is meant to suggest that the technological aspects of the fabrics - solution dyed, high abrasion, high UV, antimicrobial, bleach cleanable - complement the design element desired by consumers.

"Our most recent Bella-Dura 2014 spring line has 22 patterns and 150 SKUs, many of which will be featured in our upcoming spring by-the-yard program," said Sarah Keelen, senior stylist. "We are currently developing that and expect it will consist of approximately 130 SKUs. In addition, there are literally thousands of proprietary Bella-Dura SKUs shown through distributors available to the design community."

New videos outlining the performance attributes and highlighting cleanability have been posted on the Bella-Dura website at www.bella-dura.com. Collections and technical information are regularly updated on the site as well.

Cindy HodnettCindy W. Hodnett | Upholstery/Style Editor

As the Upholstery/Style Editor for Furniture/Today, I spend my work hours studying the sloping curves of sofa frames, the intricacies of fabric and the nail head trim and button accents that function as jewelry on a piece of upholstery. I research the companies that bring these things together for retailers, and ultimately consumers, and interview industry leaders about their business strategies and where they think furniture is heading in the future. And when traveling, I provide a sneak peek at what I'm seeing, whether at international markets or in High Point or Las Vegas.

I look forward to sharing what I see and I hope you'll feel free to do the same. Email me at chodnett@furnituretoday.com or follow me on Twitter @CynthiaWHodnett.

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