Friday, May 6, 2016

WESCO FABRICS CELEBRATES 70 YEARS: FABRIC BUYING TRIPS AROUND THE WORLD. 6 of 10 blogs

Harry & Joline began a round the world trip in 1959 to source decorative fabrics and woven wood shade material.



Can you imagine a newspaper today writing about a business trip on a "New jet airliner"?



Wesco Fabrics imported woven bamboo roll goods directly from Japan in the late 1950's. Harry & Joline are visiting Kyoto in 1959. At one time Wesco Fabrics manufactured woven wood shades in 4 factories.


Our world for buying decorative fabrics for many years was near East 29th & Fifth Avenue in New York City. Most of our major suppliers were located in 261 & 295 Fifth Ave.




I spent a week scouting possible fabrics to add to the line. The suppliers dropped off samples of the selections to our hotel room during a cocktail party Joline Weiss gave every jobber market on a Friday night. After a few drinks a group of us would walk to Joline's favorite restaurant, "The Palm", on 2nd avenue. 
On Saturday & Sunday we looked at every sample and decided what we needed to order. Harry's main job was to get our suppliers to lower their prices of what we selected! 


Edgar Silberman and George Lichter were two iconic "mavens" in the textile industry who supplied our company with fabrics. Edgar was quite a character! He had a stuffed monkey on a couch in his New York showroom, and said he was "teaching his son the business!" George on the right, was a great friend and was one of the founders of the Israeli Air Force after World War II. I took this picture during one of Joline's famous "Friday night" cocktail parties.  

Bud Lefforge was at Wesco Fabrics when I started with the company. We shopped the New York City textile "Market" together for many years before he left to start his own business. He is pictured "scoping out" Wesco Fabrics sample books at our trade show booth.

Marla & I attended the Heimtextil textile fair in Frankfurt Germany to buy fabrics every year from 1976 on. Suppliers gave wonderful parties!


In the early years Heimtextil was one of the very best places to see worldwide decorative fabric trends. High-end fabric editeurs created very large and over-the-top displays. Marla and I often worked the Heimtextil trade fair, then took the train to Paris for another fabulous textile exhibition which no longer exists, Biennale des Editeurs. The days of these grand displays ended due to economics and changing trends. Trade shows still exist, but are very toned down. We have made over 35 visits to Frankfurt's Heimtextil.


Marla & I with Harry Gutterman, one of the founders of Fabricut, at a cocktail party during Heimtextil in 1994. We were fortunate to see him frequently. Harry even connected with us during a family holiday at Lake Lugano in Switzerland.


Steve Beard came with us to Heimtextil in 1994. He and Marla complained that I ran constantly and never stopped for food! We are previewing a resource from France.


Marla is with one of our very favorite suppliers, Ivan Ludvigson, at Heimtextil. His son spent a summer with us & worked at Wesco. Our daughter Lisa then worked in his textile mill one summer in Kinna, Sweden. Sadly, Ivan  passed away last summer.

We are working with one of our Indian silk mills at the Mood Fair in Brussels, Belgium.

What a chore to finalize an order in this mess I created in Hangzhou China.


After finishing work with a mill in a village near  Hangzhou, our contact asked us if we "liked KFC?" We both said yes, but you can tell he took us someplace else in town. We were offered choices on an unrefrigerated table in the kitchen of the restaurant. 

I broke my leg skiing one year, but Marla told me to "toughen up as we are still going to Heimtextil!" Luckily, I rented a motorized scooter to get around!


A trend event at Heimtextil.


Marla finishes an order with a Chinese mill. Most companies just ask for samples at these shows, but we nail down orders on the spot for U.S. exclusivity, then work on colors and details later!


I'm working with Danny Labruzzo, a mill rep  at "Showtime" in High Point, North Carolina.


Checking out new offerings from Rodney Carr.


We are fortunate to have most of our vendors visit us in Denver to show their latest designs. Pramod brought many beautiful designs with him from India. He and Marla have become Fitbit friends!


The trade show booths of the larger mills are jammed.

Our son-in-law,Ray Decker on the right, with Matt Tully, a second generation rep at Showtime.

Checking out a design trend exhibit at Heimtextil.


I've worked with Steve Fanning & Chris Boggs for many years.


We both loved this beautiful embroidery.


While in India to work with fabric suppliers we were invited to a "Holi Festival" celebration in New Delhi. Pramod Shah, covered in mud in the center, invited us to this special event at a home of his friends. This Hindu festival is a happy time to celebrate, throw colored paints on people, and let loose.  Marla had pink hair for days!

www.wescofabrics.com

Images: Wesco Fabrics, Dick Gentry

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