American Woolen Co., the last remaining fully vertical luxury wool mill in the U.S. that manufactures woolen and worsted fabrics, said it has enhanced its operations with the addition of an in-house dye lab at its Stafford Springs, Conn., headquarters. Veteran textile industry duo Muhammad Malik and Raana Jabeen, a husband-and-wife team from Lahore, Pakistan, have been tasked to “expand and modernize” the mill’s dye program.
Malik and Jabeen have worked together for more than 25 years. Their previous industry experience includes Maine Dye & Textiles in Saco, Maine and several posts at West Point production facilities throughout Southeast Asia. At American Woolen Co., the couple introduced a reactive dye process for “all-round fastness and a brighter and more vibrant palette,” the company said. In addition, they’ve improved controls on machinery, enabling the firm to create custom colors for clients, which include Blum & Fink and Best Made Co.
Malik, the firm’s newly minted dye house manager, comanager and colorist, said, “I am an expert dyer and chemist of vertical dyeing and finishing mills, yarn dyeing and fabric (piece) dyeing,” adding, “As a team, we have the understanding, coordination and experience to be successful — in process, quality control, new product development and troubleshooting.” The company said Malik is planning to develop hues “reflective of the mill’s pastoral New England setting.”
The mill itself is a bit of a rarity. Founded in 1899 in Lawrence, Mass., the mill was the world’s largest wool manufacturer in the early 20th century. Today, the company’s blending, carding, spinning, weaving, dyeing and finishing can all be completed in-house and it collaborates with brands across fashion, accessories and home design markets, according to the firm. Sally Jenkins-Jones, American Woolen’s creative director, said, “[Malik and Jabeen] get the subtleties of color. Under their direction, we’re already seeing nuanced color-matching, as well as an excellent grasp of the chemistry needed to dye multiple fiber substrates — wool blends, cotton wools, silk and linen wools, etc.”
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