NEW YORK — Ira D. Sahlman, president of textile converter Tussah Fabrics, died Friday at his home here, according to his daughter, Sue Stoffel. He was 85.

The cause of death was not disclosed.

Sahlman founded Tussah in 1963 focusing on woven fabrics. When polyester double knits became popular in the Seventies, the firm jumped on the trend, and then switched back to wovens when the trend faded.

In 1972, Sahlman entered the retail fabric business on an idea proposed by a Tussah customer, Edward R. Halpert, an apparel executive, and they opened their first Fabric Emporium in Paramus, N.J. At one time, the retail company grew to several stores. It has since closed.

In 2003, converter Wimpfheimer Inc. acquired a 50 percent stake in Tussah Co. Inc., which specializes in fabric for garment-dyed applications. Sahlman continued to run the division.

Early in his career, Sahlman worked for Cohn, Hall, Marx & Co., a diversified textile producer, and for a small converting company, Crown Fabrics.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara; two sons, Peter and Will; two daughters, Sue Stoffel and Emily Karaszewski, and 11 grandchildren.

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