NEW YORK — For a material fanatic, it’s the equivalent of what a candy store is to a kid.
Material ConneXion, a research and resource library of over 3,000 materials, is quite the find for the 2,000 members — mostly industrial and product designers and architects — who use it. The library offers a diverse array of materials, ranging from non-metallic reflective color film all the way to metal and wire mesh.
Founded in 1997 by George Beylerian, a self-confessed material junkie who worked in retail and design for over 35 years, the company has grown from a staff of just three to over 24. Now, Material ConneXion, located at 127 West 25th St., is looking to expand their selection of textiles and specifically gear it toward apparel designers.
Sam Lugiano, director of sales and marketing at Material ConneXion, said the concept of the library is to present apparel designers with things that they may not have considered before. Prior to joining Material ConneXion, Lugiano spent 11 years at DuPont marketing innovative materials.
"We’re really relying on non-traditional manufacturers to bring us materials that are not on fashion’s radar screen yet," Lugiano said. "We want to offer these designers leading edge and hard-to-find fabrics that will inspire them, as well as things that are not necessarily created with apparel use in mind. Our first clients were fashion people looking for packaging materials, so why shouldn’t we expose them to what we think are innovative fabrics that they can use in their designs."
The company’s first client, according to Beylerian, was Coach. Its second was Kenneth Cole and today, Fendi and Prada are among the members, as are Reebok, Puma, Adidas, Nike and Target Stores.
Each month, a seven- to 10-person jury of architects and designers — fashion designer Yeohlee has been on the panel — sift through nearly 50 selections that are presented for inclusion in the library. Clients then pay a fee to have access to the final picks. They can poke and prod them before getting all the pertinent information needed to order a sample.
A member for about four years, Katherine Mansell-Moullin, senior materials designer for Puma footwear, said she uses the resource as a starting point on many projects."They make the connection between your idea and a supplier who can make it a reality," she said, adding that the library is a one-stop-shop for worldwide materials. "Having a local resource with such global offerings is so useful because before you literally had to travel to all the different shows to see what you now can see in one place."
Candy Pratts Price, executive in charge of programming at Vogue, agreed, noting that with budgets continuing to be cut, having the library’s resources available in the U.S. proves invaluable to many.
"It’s really the right time for them to open their doors to the ready-to-wear market," said Pratts Price, who joined five years ago when she was creative director of Ralph Lauren.
Fern Mallis, executive director of 7th on Sixth and vice president of IMG, was a supporter of Material ConneXion early on.
"It’s a gem of a place for fashion people and anyone interested in the latest technologies and materials," said Mallis. "You feel like Alice in Wonderland. When you walk out, your head is spinning with new ideas."
The staff, continued Mansell-Moullin, consists of people from different disciplines, which makes it a breeding ground for new ideas.
"They actually help designers think in a reverse way," Mansell-Moullin said. "To start with the material instead of the design has produced terrific results for us."
Designer Yeohlee said she is impressed with the staff’s range of knowledge about materials, especially when it comes to the highly technical fabrics that she uses in her collection. Yeohlee cited a recent example of a fabric infused with paraffin tablets that melt or freeze to supply climate control to the wearer.
"Information about how something like this works is not usually readily available," Yeohlee said.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews