As an interior designer, I am always concerned with the performance of the materials that I present to clients. I want textiles to be beautiful, durable, and feel good. I love using plush, natural fabrics around my own home, as well as my clients’ homes.
However, the fear of everyday wear-and-tear prevents many people from purchasing luxury fabrics. I often receive protests such as, “We often entertain, and someone always spills a drink” and “My children and pets make so much mess, it’s impossible for me to keep things clean and nice.” These are valid reasons to avoid mohair and velvet. Which is unfortunate, because these fabrics are easy ways layer luxury into a room.
Fabric protectors like Scotchgard™, regrettably are not options for natural textiles. The chemicals’ molecules sit on top of the fibers, which changes the feel and sheen of the fabric. The very aspects that make them luxurious are irreversibly harmed.
NEW TECHNOLOGY: ALTA
Technology is always improving. Applied Textiles is a textile technology company, and they have invented a water-based fabric treatment technology called Alta™. It is 95% water, and almost all fabrics (excepting leather and suede) receiving this treatment maintain their characteristics. The protector is imperceptible to the eye and hand because the chemicals attach to the fiber.
Alta™ is an after-market application. This means that Alta™ isn’t woven into fabrics, but is a finish professionally applied before the fabric’s intended use. For example, if a client wants their tweed sofa to repel stains, then I will send the fabric to Alta’s work room for treatment, and from there it is delivered to the upholsterer and made into the sofa. This contrasts with treatments like Scotchgard™, which is available in retail stores and anyone can apply (or have it professionally applied, in the case of carpeting).
Alta is a game changer for luxury fabrics, and for clients who wish to protect their fabrics without using the harsh chemicals found in traditional stain treatments. It is not inexpensive, which is to be expected considering that it is made for luxury textiles. But it does allow for cashmere to still feel like cashmere, for silk to fall in its usual sumptuous folds, and for velvet to retain its deluxe nap. And that is the most important thing.