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Obituary: Innovator David Casty, Textile Executive, 81

NEW YORK — David Casty, a fixture in the textile industry for more than 50 years whose inventiveness helped countless men keep their shirts in their pants, died on March 31 at the age of 81. The cause of death was complications from colon...

NEW YORK — David Casty, a fixture in the textile industry for more than 50 years whose inventiveness helped countless men keep their shirts in their pants, died on March 31 at the age of 81. The cause of death was complications from colon cancer.

Most recently as chairman of Boston-based NFA, or Narrow Fabrics Associated, Casty oversaw the development of dozens of specialized fabric and trim businesses in New York and Massachusetts into major suppliers to companies making swimwear, pants, lingerie and footwear. The companies he built, acquired, took public or private over the years, if put together, would have a combined volume of about $600 million, said his son, Jimmy Casty, who is retired from the family business.

“It was his lifelong passion,” Casty said. “He started basically in the shoe-trimming business, working for his father. He was a master of innovation and a master of building and turning around companies.”

In the early Fifties, Casty patented an invention called Snugtex, an elastic waistband that helped revolutionize form-fitting garments.

“You would know it today as the little tab in your waistband to hold your shirt into your pants so it doesn’t fall out,” Jimmy Casty said, noting that his father’s other patents include Quickcord, which is a method of sewing a drawstring into a pair of pants that eliminated the need to feed the string through manually with a paper clip or pin.

After serving in World War II in the Army Air Corps as a teacher in radar and radio signals, Casty took over his father’s business in 1946, joining Novelty Bias Bindings in Chelsea, Mass., a company that still exists. In the late Fifties, he started Elastic Corp. of America, or ECA, which focused on elastic webbings and fabrics, and set out to form a public conglomerate of trimming suppliers that was later combined as Chelsea Industries, making textiles, narrow fabrics and shoe products.

In the early Seventies, the company entered the broad fabrics arena with the acquisition of businesses such as Bretmar Fabrics, Future of Fabrics, Chelsea Prints and Chelsea Textiles. After several divisions went public and then were taken private, the core company more recently became NFA, the best known divisions of which are Charbert, a manufacturer of fine warp and circular knitted stretch fabric, and Hope Global, a successor of the 80-year-old braid and knitted wire carrier company Hope Webbing.

Casty is survived by his wife, Libby; a brother, Harold, and four sons, Ronald, Jimmy, Lee and Scott.