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Feb 22, 2012

Ultrasuede - Yea or Nay?



Blame Dr. Miyoshi Okamoto.

In 1970 he invented a 100% polyester, machine-washable, suede-like microfiber fabric that went on to define an often-derided decade of fashion.  Indeed, who can talk about Seventies style without mentioning ultrasuede (or rather, Ultrasuede)?

Remember this spread from a 1972 McCall's magazine I shared with you a few months ago?





Just as we can't talk about Seventies fashion without mentioning Ultrasuede, we can't talk about Ultrasuede without mentioning the designer Halston.   He loved the stuff and it came to define him.  Parenthetically, did you know Halston had his own McCall's pattern line in the Seventies (and into the Eighties)?

Must. Collect. Them. All.





The way I see it, now that I've made my Seventies faux fur coat and wrap pantsuit, there is no question what metaphorical fashion mountain I must climb next.   Working in that shaggy beaver fur, backed by this pink microfiber, may have triggered Ultrasuede flashbacks closely related to PTSD.



Would you be surprised if I told you that this Halston shirtdress is part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, here in NYC?  It only looks like it jumped out of a vintage J.C. Penny catalog.



And speaking of Halston (and J.C. Penny, where he had a controversial diffusion line) did you know that a recent film made about him was entitled Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston.  Dreadful reviews, unfortunately.





I can spot Charlie Girl Shelley Hack and Angelica Huston in the last photo.  Anyone else you can name?

If I told you that the Stan Herman Vogue designer pattern at the top of today's post was available for just 99 cents on a very popular vintage pattern site, would you tell me to grab it IMMEDIATELY, or leave it, forgotten, in history's vintage pattern graveyard?

The problem with Ultrasuede tunics is that they...well...need I spell it out to you?





Nevertheless, I'm starting to obsess about Ultrasuede.  OK, maybe I'm exaggerating: I'm getting into it.  I actually have a few Ultrasuede-y scraps in my stash -- you may recall I used one for the underside of my velveteen jean jacket last year.





I think it's time for a re-visit.

Over on Etsy, there are some classic vintage Seventies Ultrasuede garments for sale.  I love 'em.







And for the man in your life, this Halston original!

Friends, whatever happened to Ultrasuede?  Did its popularity diminish with the return to popularity of natural fibers in the Eighties?  Was it -- like faux fur -- never able to disassociate itself fully from all things disco, Seventies, and -- let's be honest -- cheap?

Today I want to hear your Ultrasuede memories.   A few questions:

Do you still wear the Ultrasuede?  Have you ever sewn with it? 

What happened to Ultrasuede's popularity?  (I think of it more as something you upholster sofas with nowadays.  Am I wrong?)

When's the last time you saw an Ultrasuede pantsuit? Actually, when's the last time you saw a pantsuit, period -- other than here at MPB, of course!

Ultrasuede, yea or nay? 



Coming soon: Qiana -- Was It All a Dream?

67 comments:

  1. Peter, I can get with all kinds of fabrics (well, actually, I'm pretty fussy), but ultrasuede is the ne plus ultra of yuck! It feels weird. It hangs weirdly. It makes everything look like maternity wear. It's right up there with faux fur (sorry) for the ickiest feel. You know I love you and I celebrate your forays into sewing with all the fabrics. Just not for me.

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  2. I remember those patterns, even made a few. The thing about Ultrasuede is...its hot, uncomfortable and hard to keep clean (doesn't everyone have one of those garments that attract spots, grease and stains?). That said, I lusted after some to sew with, but the garments didn't get worn much once made.

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  3. My mother had two ultrasuede outfits I remember. An orange pantsuit she would wear to work (we teased her relentlessly about this) and a denim colored jumpsuit she wore to Parents Without Partners dances. Shudder.

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  4. Love ultrasuede. Love it. Now off to netflix to find that movie!

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    Replies
    1. I'm with you! the movie looks good too!

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  5. I knew of a woman who made all of her clothing from Ultrasuede. She was tall and very thin. I own a couple of Ultrasuede skirts, bought to make doll clothing with. It is less forgiving than felt, so the remnants may be used to make doll shoes. I thought it might make tote bags and purses,but I've been told that it does not wear well as a purse. Too bad.

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  6. The actress in the yellow outfit & blue sweater is Shelly Long of "Cheers" fame. I do not remember ever wearing ultrasuede - maybe a pair of shoes borrowed from a friend. Has the fabric industry updated it so it's thinner or more flowing?

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  7. I have a small amount of ultrasuede in a weird green in my stash that I am dying to make into a skirt with a mock button front and frilly pockets... is this wrong? :P

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  8. Ultrasuede now comes in a variety that is thin and soft, much more like garment suede. It also is machine washable. I have made a few items from it, and I machine wash and dry it several times before I use it to shrink it and make it softer before I use it. My rule of thumb is that if an item could reasonably be made, and would be wearable, in real suede, I would consider making it from ultrasuede. So, no dresses, suits, pants or jumpsuits. Instead, loose vests, jackets with seam details, or a-line skirts.

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  9. Is this fabric similar to moleskin? Because that I love and it's like it has a built in lining! Moleskin has great drape and is one of the easiest fabrics I have ever stitched with.

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    1. I love moleskin!! I have about 4 or five lengths in different colors, it has such a great hand and isn't hard to sew!!

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    2. Is moleskin the same as microfiber? I thought moleskin was like flannel?

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    3. No it is like a heavier sueded silk, you must go take a look at it and trust me you'll love it!!!

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    4. Moleskin is a dense cotton weave. I bought a pair of moleskin pants from the GAP in the 90s, and the wore like iron.

      Ultrasuede, the good stuff, looked great. We had a neighbor, Sue with the long braid (married, but essentially the "Francine" of my youth), who owned a white suit in Ultrasuede, and she worked it! Our front doors could not have been more than 300 feet apart, but she would DRIVE over to visit my mother.

      Delete
  10. back row, center, in the pink dress--Susan Sarandon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. when first looking at the face i thought it was Susan Sarandon but dismissed it as my second thought was, 'what would Susan Sarandon be doing as a Halston model?'

      First instincts are the best instincts.

      Delete
  11. The tall thin woman with hand on her hip looks like Lisa Kudrow, but I suspect this photo is too old for her age group. I bought a brand new vintage Ultrasuede dress with its Union and Ultrasuede labels for $5 at Value Village and cut it up for a pocketbook. The fabric is super expensive, doesn't wear well and doesn't drape. Other than that, it is a cool fabric.

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  12. Age related post, I was in my 20's in the 70's.

    There's faux suede in many degrees of quality or yuckiness, and then there is Ultrasuede. It didn't disappear because it was cheap, rather it was too expensive for the average home sewer.

    Garments made from the genuine fabric were usually coats, jackets and suits. It was beautiful when it was the real thing and pretty awful when it was copied in poor materials. Wish I could have afforded it at the time.

    Ann V. In CA

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  13. Can't say I have much insight about the decline of ultasuede as I wasn't around then...

    As for ultrasuede now, I have actually used some to sew a trench coat - personally I thought it worked rather well. I underlined it with muslin to give some extra weight though. I think it can look good as a coat/jacket/vest if the fabric itself actually looks interesting. If the fabric looks cheap, I don't think there is any saving it. Also, I really can't imagine using it for a dress, or pants, or anything like that, but I am sure if you went for it, it would probably look amazing anyway.

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  14. I love the coat with the green scarf. That is beautiful and if made with Ultrasuede...then very nice.

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  15. For 99 cents I'd say go ahead and grab crazy by the horns and wrestle it to the ground! ha ha ha

    I don't really have any bias or issue with ultrasuede. In fact, I think it can be fun and fanciful in the same way as faux fur (they really are kissing cousins, aren't they?). Not sure I'd wear a whole outfit of the stuff, but definitely an accessory or a casual jacket could add fun texture and color to an ensemble.

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  16. James B. at Vogue PatternsFebruary 22, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Karen Bjornson (Halston's muse) is standing next to him in the hat and brown shirtwaist, Pat Cleavlend is the black model on the right in the gray dress....both are still modeling
    FYI.....Ultra Suede...the real thing.... now comes in all different weights and amazing colors.

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  17. I love Ultrasuede, but haven't made anything with it yet. Now it comes in a much softer version called Ultrasuede Facile. There are specific techniques for working with it and if you don't sew it the right way you can come up bulky. Halston knew just how to handle it. By the way, finding McCall's Halston patterns isn't easy and many of them utilize a bias cut.....not for those who never worked with bias. In my opinion he was the ultimate American designer!

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    Replies
    1. Scorpionblue, you're so chatty today - we should talk Ultrasuede more often.

      Your bias cut comment explains why the good stuff draped, and the rest drooped.

      Don't be a stranger.

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    2. LOL! Oh I get my "two cents" in when I really like the subject! I'm a true 'Halstonette' and his name and Ultrasuede were synonymous!

      Delete
  18. Love, Love, Love & Love...I have a cute Ultrasuede skirt that I scored at a thrift store. It's a medium weight and it looks hangs nicely, clean lines - modern. I also used to have a blazer that I wore all the time but it was made with something called "Heeksuede" I have no idea what that is, but it was softer than Ultrasuede and had more drape to it...

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  19. I say YEA to Ultrasuede. I like it because you can throw it in the washer and dryer. I would only use it for something I would make from leather or suede, so no jumpsuits, tops, blouses etc. Jackets, coats and the like work great. Unfortunately the price of the stuff is insane, $60 to $70 per yard. I am too cheap to pay that much.

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    Replies
    1. That's the only thing that's kept me from using it.........the price!! It's insanely expensive!

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  20. Here are the names of some of the models, Appolonia in the cashmere sweater dress with cardigan, Karen Bjornson in the brown silk shirt-dress and hat, Shelly Hack, Angelica Huston in the silk tie-dye caftan and the ultra-fabulous Pat Cleveland in the tie-dye gown! I have this picture on my sewing room wall.

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  21. is ultrasuede the same as peach skin?

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  22. Good Afternoon Peter
    Really loved your recap on the History of Halston. You know your stuff!! I am the Brand Manager For Toray Ultrasuede International America. Ultarsuede is alive and thriving . It was the Animal Friendly Fabric this year for Designer John Bartlett NYC fashion Show at Milk Studios Feb 9th. Some of the customers that I work closely with are Brooks Brother, PUMA, Polo, DVF, Raven Kaufman, Oscar De La Renta, Apple (I-Pad cover0, Tiffany, LV, Rolex, Halston, Givenchy, Todd Oldham, Anna Sui, Donna Karan, and Louis Vuitton. Kerrits, Tom Bihn, Saucony, Pendleton,

    Its rare to find full garments but linings and trim are used by Brands that need quality and durablity. Sewing with Ultrasuede takes practice and skill. We are still featured in MaCalls and I work closely with them. We are in the know when it come to ANIMAL and ECO friendly. Did you know we make ultrasuede out of recycled Poly waste!! Cows skins out Ultrasuede in!!! I would be happy to supply sample and detail on our domestic stock that has a MOQ of 5 yards over 300 colors in stock and the abilty to ink jet and digitley print on Ultrasuede. I invite you to join my Fashion Facebook page and provide advice.

    Today, Toray Ultrasuede (America), Inc. (TUA) is a leading luxury lifestyle brand with applications across a wide range of markets, including fashion, interior design, furniture, transportation, and automobiles. What distinguishes Ultrasuede (its automotive counterpart) from the competition?

    VERSATILITY

    · Is a preferred fabric for such furniture brands as American Leather, Roche Bobois, and Ligne Rosset
    · Furnishings grace international establishments from New York City’s Bliss 57 Spa to Barcelona’s Claris Hotel
    · Enhances the refined interiors of the world’s finest yachts and (private and commercial) airplanes
    ·
    APPEAL

    · Exquisite texture, exceptional body, and plush weight contribute to an unparalleled tactile experience – soft, supple, and sensuous to the touch
    · Strength and durability complement natural feel for a fabric that delivers benefits no animal product can offer
    · Outstanding breathability adds a dimension of comfort superior to other man-made fabrics


    PERFORMANCE

    · Over 140 vibrant, high-fashion colors resist fading due to advanced dying techniques
    · Shape retention properties guarantee crisp edges for a lifetime of use, with no shrinking or sagging
    · Thicker furniture weights allow fabric to stand up to the wear and tear of upholstery applications
    · Lighter fashion weights ensure all-weather, all-climate comfort while creating sensuous, drapable silhouettes



    EASE OF CARE

    · Most stains (including coffee, ketchup, milk, and red wine) wipe off with just a touch of mild soap and water, leaving no residue
    · Machine-washable and dry-cleanable
    · Abrasion-resistant surface is impossible to scratch, with no threads to pull or fray
    · Pet-friendly fabric will not retain odors, absorb stray hairs, or show signs of stains
    · 100% Crulity Free. Ultrasuede® is a man made fiber that wears better than leather and suede is washable and stain resistant.


    Thanks for the support



    Robert  Steir
    Brand Manager Ultrasuede®
    Toray International America, Inc.
    461 Fifth Avenue, 9th Floor
    New York, NY 10017
    Direct 1-212-922-3751
    Cell      1-415-265-4119
    E-mail   r.steir@toray-intl.com

    ReplyDelete
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    1. These Ultrasuede guys certainly stay on top of things! LOL

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    2. I was just thinking that - I bet he was over the moon when he found this discussion!

      Delete
  23. Don't relegate ultra suede to the 70s- I've just recently made a Vogue Guy Laroche wrap dress with it. Maybe it's a designer thing?

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    1. Ruth, you're too modest. I'm showing everyone the link to your blog:

      http://sewruth.blogspot.com/2012/01/suede-says-guy-laroche.html

      Delete
  24. Its just me Peter and my Coordinator here in NYC. Toray is a 15 Billion Japanese company. No bi brother watching over the internet. Just a fellow designer with a passion for eco and animal friendly materials. I am good friends with Halston niece Leslie Frorick and she is thwe most down to earth lady you could meet. I have offered to provide fabric for the book she is doing with the MET due out in 2013. Come by and visit me any time you like.

    Regards

    Robert Steir

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    1. They're doing a book on Halston???!!!! Oh, my God!! Now I'm going to be on pins and needles in anticipation! I'm already in a tizzy waiting for "Ultrasuede: In search of Halston" to be released on DVD!! LOL!!!

      Delete
  25. In 1976, a new colleague arrived in Melbourne from the USA. She wore a fabulous burgundy coloured shirtdess in what I thought was suede. She said she'd just made it and it wasn't suede but a new fabric ''Ultrasuede'. I was green with envy. Yea Yea Yea and go for the Halston collection Peter!

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  26. Oh yes check out Ultrasuede Elite with great drap and with a scrim to make in really strong. This is the new look of Ultrasuede. Perfect for skirts, and jackets. If you buy direct from Toray Ultrasuede the prices are reduced. Also Peter for you I would be happy to provide scrap cut yards to you and your readers as every few months our warehouse gets cut yards that I would be happy to send to you.

    Cheers

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Robert, for your update on Ultrasuede. I've always loved it and I enjoyed seeing the apparel slideshow on your website. Seeing current garments made from Ultrasuede was inspiring.

      Peter, I think you should make something with it!

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    2. PLEASE keep me in mind if you get some. As I posted below, I'm crazy for the jacket pictured above and I even have the pattern to make it.

      Delete
  27. I'm (sadly? thankfully?) too young to remember Ultrasuede from the 70s, but I grew up seeing it in fabric stores, and can tell you with a fair amount of accuracy which aisle to find it on in my local fabric store today, lol. I've sewn with it several times, always for costumes (like this Eowyn costume I made for my sister nearly 10 years ago: http://i193.photobucket.com/albums/z82/ryottelora/Jess-Ewoyn.jpg ), and it's actually not a bad fabric, 70s associations aside. It's washable, doesn't wrinkle, and has a nice amount of stretch without looking like spandex. I've tossed around the idea of making a pencil skirt out of it for a few years now but have never quite gotten up the motivation to do it. But for costumes, it's great, especially in places where you want the look of real suede but not the bulk or complications it adds to construction.

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  28. I have a few Halston patterns in my stash and you've reminded me - must get rid of them! Sorry everyone above that likes it but I hate the look and feel of ultrasuede. Maybe for a chair.... but I wouldn't wear it.

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  29. Thanks for showing all these 70"s looks. I'm wondering how the women who read this blog feel about them. I remember this decade well and feel that the all the derision of 70's fashion is unwarranted. These were clothes that were wearable by women of many sizes. A woman did not have to be emaciated to wear these clothes. I'd much rather see a woman wearing any of these clothes than seeing her out in public in flannel PJ bottoms and Crocs!

    I've been tempted by faux suede blazers, especially in the Fall. But I always chicken out in the end thinking that they're just too hokey.

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    Replies
    1. "I'd much rather see a woman wearing any of these clothes than seeing her out in public in flannel PJ bottoms and Crocs!"
      WELL SAID!

      Delete
  30. My mother made quite a few things out of ultrasuede in the 70s and I have her scraps to prove it! I seem to remember an entire suit. Perhaps she didn't wear it much because we lived in Texas and it was too hot.

    Anyway, I kind of weirdly love it, and was thinking about using it as some trim on a dress that's in my sewing queue. I will say though that some of the scraps are kind of weird colors.

    Halston was my "signature scent" in high school in the 70s. ;)

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  31. I was born in 1979 and thankfully (sorry!) missed the fashions of the 70s. Mind you after the last photoshoot I definitely think its cousin Cathy's era, so go buy that pattern... and make it in ultrasuede!!

    I haven't really sewn with ultrasuede. My only experience is using it as a backing for bead embroidery, where you embroider lots and lots and lots of teenie-tiny glass beads onto it in patterns. I used to love buying it because I loved the feel, and the richness of the colours it came in, but it was VERY EXPENSIVE. I think I used to by 12 inch squares for the $20 mark in Australia.

    You can make the most incredible jewellery and bags with this technique. My favourite artist was Sherry Serafini (have a look at her webpage here http://www.serafinibeadedjewelry.com/) I agree its not for everyone, but her work is beautiful.

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  32. I have a coat that my grandmother sewed out of mint-green ultrasuede-type material. I'm guessing she made it in the late 70's or early 80's. It needs new shoulder pads and buttons. Maybe this post will inspire me to fix it up and wear it!

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  33. Yea Ultrasuede! Vegan friendly, tactile, machine washable. What's not to love? Unless you live in the tropics, of course. I bought a piece years ago and it is still in stash. The thought of wearing it makes me sweat.

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  34. I was a teenager in the early 70's, but don't remember a huge amount of Ultrasuede clothes for some reason. Qiana - yes, Ultrasuede - no. But then, with my frugal parents, I didn't get to do a lot of shopping as I recal. But I did get the "priviledge" of wearing hand-downs from my sister until she moved out. And they were usually about 4 years behind the fashion curve by the time I got them.

    I know that today's Ultrasuede is improved from the 70's Ultrasuede. I love the look and feel of it, but the one thing that makes me not buy it (or any faux suede) for a full garment is static! Not just for getting zapped, but for attracting lint, pet hair, every bit of schmutz in the air, etc. I can handle using it for trims or bags though.

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  35. I have scraps from a couple of purses that I made 20 years ago. They make great flute and piccolo swabs!

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  36. James B. at Vogue PatternsFebruary 23, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    i got in touch with Karen Bjornson and this is the list of the models in the photo...
    From L to R Lynn Woodruff, Halston, Pola, Karen Bjornson, Emmanuelle, Apollonia (seated and Anjelica Huston, seated), unknown, Shelley Hack, Pat Cleveland, Denise Hopkins is to the right of Pat but she is cut from your photo, photographed by Duane Michels.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the complete list of models. I loved the Halstonettes.
      I went to school around the corner from his shop on Madison Ave. and would always pass by to see the new windows.
      I saw the documentary a couple of weeks ago and am crazy for a Halston jacket like the one pictured above (not the sport coat though).
      He was the EPITOME of chic! So glamorous, too.

      Delete
  37. Men's 1-pc jump suits...not Ultrasuede®, but poly/cottons in patterns definitely from that Halston, Studio 54, Disco Days era for sure!

    http://www.retronaut.co/2012/02/mens-jump-suits-1970s/

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  38. With everyone looking at eco, friendly ways to sustain our planet I could not think of a better trend than one that chooses compassion for living creatures. Why is this not a bigger part in this thing we are calling the green movement. Why is leather and suede not part of the story? Simply reducing the amount of leather and suede we use could have a huge impact on environmental issues that we are concerned about. I am not saying we should all become vegans and wear hemp sandals. Nevertheless, really stop and think about the amount of misery and wasted energy resources that go into the raising of factory-farmed animals for our fashion consumption. It’s crazy! We should be feeding that soy and grain to the starving kids in the same countries that raise the animals for our leather and suede bags and belts.

    By providing quality, alternatives to leather and suede we as designers are seriously helping reduce waste and help contribute to a more sustainable environment. I would like to see a few more big name brands and designers really push the animal friendly, which is really a cooler version of green to the masses. I mean NYC has its Marc Bauer’s and Stella MaCartneys but just think of the impact a world wide mass-produced brand could have on consumers. Just stop and think about the resources it takes to factory farm animals. Look at the supply chain of wear our leather and suede comes from, the time it takes to produce real leather is years and hundreds of pounds of grain, soy antibiotics and gallons upon gallons of fresh water to at the end produce a hide of leather or suede. With the technology that is available, we have the ability to produce a quality product that is more durable than animal hides and can even be washed water proofed.

    Sew on

    Robert Steir
    Brand Manager for Toray Ultrasuede

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  39. Hello Peter & everyone,

    Yea! I am very proud to say that the real and only Ultrasuede® is alive and well! I work for Toray International America, Inc. in the Ultrasuede® Department here in New York City, and represent it to the fashion industry, furniture industry, yacht industry, retail & museum display industry, electronics industry, and the orthotics industry.

    Customers that specify Ultrasuede® in their designs know its quality remains superior to any other imitation out there. Some of our thousands of customers include:

    ◙ Polo Ralph Lauren (for fashion & displays)
    ◙ Puma ("green" shoe: Ultrasuede® style # 5522-Ambiance Recycled is made of 100% recycled polyester microfibers, and is stocked in the USA in 96 colors. See our recycling process explained here: http://www.ultrasuede.com/about/responsibly_engineered.html)
    ◙ Vans
    ◙ C1RCA
    ◙ Saucony (http://www.saucony.com/store/SiteController/saucony/productdetails?stockNumber=25124-1&showDefaultOption=true&skuId=***4********25124-1*M090&productId=4-108420&catId=cat300162&searched=true&iCID=ShoeAdvisor-LightspeedMen)
    ◙ Cabelas
    ◙ LL Bean
    ◙ Pendleton Woolen Mills
    ◙ American Leather (furniture)
    http://www.americanleather.com/Coverings/Ultrasuede.aspx
    ◙ Elite Mfg. (furniture)
    ◙ The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    ◙ The Smithsonian
    ◙ The Philadelphia Museum of Art
    ◙ The Texas History Museum
    ◙ Many orthotics companies specify Ultrasuede® as top-covers on their sole supports
    ◙ And finally (& most relative for this blog) NY fashion designer John Bartlett recently presented his latest collection during New York Fashion Week including many full garments in Ultrasuede®:
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ultrasuede-Fashion/184191571659810

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or sample requests. I'm happy to send swatches to you free of charge.

    All my best regards,
    Chadney Spencer
    Toray Ultrasuede
    c.spencer@toray-intl.com
    www.ultrasuede.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't realize that the brand was still available. I'll have to try a pattern.

      I remember how Halston was the king of fashion. He was always in Vogue with his pals Liza, Liz, Lee and Andy, etc at Studio 54. The woman quite often dressed in his Ultrasuede styles.

      Delete
  40. When her mother died, my neighbor gave me her (the mother's) fabric stash, including, you guessed it, a cut of Ultrasuede straight out of 1975! I made shorts with it, and I have worn them several times. I scalloped the hem, which is so easy on a fabric that does not fray. I'd include a link, but, sadly, I did not blog about them.

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  41. I have to say that I covetted Ultrasuede in the 70s. I always wanted to make something out of it, but believe it or not, it was too pricey for my high school and college budget! I remember how wonderful it felt on the bolt in the fabric store. I never wore anything out of it, so I don't know how it felt, but I was in love with its uniqueness in the 70s.

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  42. I associate Ultrasuede with an elegant skirted suit one of my father's cousins made, looking beautiful and very modern every time she wore it. It washed well even in the 70s so it was one of her favorite travel wardrobes as well. I coughed up the money to buy some for the strap and trim on a wonderful bag, and it looks exactly like real suede. If I could afford it, I'd make a great jacket out of it. Reading comments above, don't you think some of the problems cited were with sewing choices as much as fabric choices? Haven't we all made mistakes in choice? I made a winter jacket with a quilted lining that is still the warmest jacket in the world (comfy at 35 below zero!), but the only quilted lining I could find was really too thick so it's kind of stiff, and would never make anyone's fashion list for appeal--but warm! durable! waterproof! and the fashion rules at 35 below are a bit different...

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  43. As always, Peter, I'm a bit late here, but bear with me.....

    To me, the story of Ultrasuede is the story of all synthetics and fakements. When first introduced, they're usually expensive, often worked by well-known designers, and - since they haven't been seen before - they "pass" for a time. Usually a brief time.

    Before too long, the eye begins to pick up on the difference between the fake and the real. Polyester never quite has the look of silk. The best vinyls are still, visually, a little off the look of leather. Do you remember "bonded" fabrics, where a layer of nylon tricot was adhered to a face layer of fashion fabric? The idea was that garments with a lined look could be constructed in one pass. And at first, bonded fabrics were acceptable. They soon became synonymic with "cheap," because everyone had learned to spot them all the way across Loehmann's. Don't even get me started about Qiana.

    Ultrasuede was handled a bit more cleverly; it was not marketed as a fake suede, but rather as a new sort of fabric in its own right. But with "suede" in the product name, comparisons - both conscious and not - to suede were inevitable, and the real always wins.

    Full disclosure: I had a pair of deep red Seventies bell-bottoms in Ultrasuede back in the day, specially tailored to hang perfectly halfway down the back of the four-inch men's heels (with an inch-and-a-half platform) I favored in those years. Good times.

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  44. Hi Peter- Yes, actually I used the very same pink w/fur to sew a poncho for a very good friend, and also another poncho with an ultra very similar to the snakeskin-like one below your faux archer. I liked the results, but hated the process of working with these fabrics, and will be avoiding them in the future. Yikes, just realized my hobo bag is also an ultra. Have used the bag for years and it is a 70's pattern. Nothing much to brag, but here they are: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bwcollection/sets/72157622730759887/. No wont pay 99 cents for that pattern.

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  45. Love the stuff for vests, and the heavier ultrasuede for bags is the best. I was recently lucky enough to obtain some for $5/yd. An elderly woman's stash. Lucky me!

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