Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, Sunbury Textile Mills Announce Winners of Philadelphia University Textile Design Competition

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    Client News

  • Date:

    June 01, 2014

Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, Sunbury Textile Mills Announce Winners of Philadelphia University Textile Design Competition

Client News

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Glen Raven Custom Fabrics’ and Sunbury Textile Mills’ have announced the winners of a design competition with the Textile Design program at Philadelphia University. The competition was in celebration of Glen Raven Custom Fabrics’ and Sunbury Textile Mills’ 20th anniversary of their business partnership.

Graduate student Kailey Smith was awarded first place in a unanimous decision for her innovative, artisanal approach which featured interwoven braids and knots.

“I wanted to create something different,” Smith said. “I pushed the limits and didn’t want to do something safe. Texture was incredibly important to me so I really wanted to highlight that in this design.”

A reception was held at Philadelphia University on May 6 to display the entries and announce the winners.

Judges from the industry included Greyson Kirby, director of merchandising and product development at HOLLY HUNT, Glen Raven Design Consultant Sherri Donghia, Steve Elton, chief brand officer at Brown Jordan, Greg Voorhis, design manager at Glen Raven, and Michelle Clarke, design director of casual outdoor product at Sunbury.

“What Kailey demonstrated is what the great weavers in the world do,” Donghia said. “Industrial weaving with a hand-loomed look is the future. I was so impressed with her artisanal approach to this challenge.”

Working with the school faculty, the two companies challenged students at the beginning of the spring semester to imagine the future of Sunbrella® fabrics – the next 20 years.

“Kailey truly embraced this challenge,” Clarke said. “I was fascinated with the way she manipulated the yarns. Her entire collection had a great organic feeling to it.”

Second place went to senior Emily Weiss for her colorful take. Third place went to graduate student Xue “Susan” Sun and first honorable mention went to graduate student Mary Armacost, both of whom incorporated PVC yarn into their designs.

“I’m honored to have won second place,” said Emily Weiss, whose design featured a blue/green color palette ideal for a beach home. “I was inspired by the end use for my design and wanted to highlight how beautiful the durability of Sunbrella fabrics can be.”

Sun’s design symbolized the impact of technology on our daily lives.

“My concept is high tech,” Sun said. “I loved the way the metallic yarn paired with the bright colors I chose – it reminds me of augmented reality.”

The students’ designs were judged on a number of criteria: color, pattern, appropriate scale, creative materials, appropriate hand, technical execution, appropriate end use, originality and innovation.

“When thinking about the next 20 years, I was really enamored by sheers,” said Armacost, whose first honorable mention design featured gold and silver PVC yarn. “We don’t know what a sheer will be 20 years from now. I played with the idea of letting light come through the fabric in varying levels.”

While there were universal themes of travel and technology, many students pushed the boundaries and delivered new and exciting ideas.

“The students were only contained by what they could imagine,” Voorhis said. “I’m glad to see many of them thinking outside of the box for this competition.”

Grand prize winner Kailey Smith will attend Showtime Fabric Fair in High Point, tour the new Burlington yarn manufacturing facility, and interview with the Sunbrella design team.

“It was inspiring to be a part of this process,” said Kirby, one of the judges. “It’s all about editing. The students who were able to create a clear story with a consistent approach impacted me the most.”

All four winners will be invited to tour the Sunbury Corporate Office & Mill, helping them to further prepare for the next phase in their careers. The contest exposes students to two industry leaders and gives them insight into the business side of textile design.

“I remember when I was a student at FIT, and this competition brings back a lot of memories,” Elton said. “I loved getting the chance to speak with the students and hear their ideas and inspirations. This is the future of our business.”

A mutually beneficial partnership, the competition was deemed a success by all those involved.

“This was a great challenge for our students,” said Marcia Weiss, director of textile design at Philadelphia University, no relation to winner Emily Weiss. “I was very pleased with the range of submissions and proud of the talent we are cultivating.”

About Sunbrella Fabrics
Introduced in 1961, Sunbrella revolutionized the way the world thinks about how beautiful fabrics look, feel and perform. The Sunbrella brand is the leading premium fabric choice for awning, marine and furniture manufacturers, offering legendary durability, fade resistance and ease of cleaning.

Upholstery fabrics from Sunbrella are continually advancing in design sophistication and comfort, resulting in applications both outside and inside the home for coordinated décor. Sunbrella fabrics have been certified by GreenGuard, an international standard, for contributing to indoor air quality.

Sunbrella fabrics are manufactured and marketed by Glen Raven, a 134-year-old family-owned company based in North Carolina with operations worldwide. For more information on the Sunbrella brand, including fabric resources, visit

About Sunbury Textile Mills
Sunbury Textile Mills was founded in 1954. It was purchased from the Susquehanna Silk Mills, a silk tie manufacturer which built the original manufacturing complex in 1890. A more modern facility was erected in 1970, housing today’s modern looms and manufacturing equipment while also keeping the original saw-tooth roof, an architectural signature from the turn of the century. Our sales and creative design offices are located in a historic, cast iron building dating back to 1861 in the vibrant neighborhood of SoHo in New York City.

Sunbury has always operated at the present manufacturing site in Sunbury, Pennsylvania and is one of the only mills of its type that continues to manufacture 100% of its products in the United States of America. In 2004 Sunbury Textile Mills became an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) company and is owned 100% for the benefit of all the employees’ retirements. The company employs multigenerational families that carry on the art of weaving with an average tenure of 20 years of design and weaving expertise.

Sunbury boasts a reputation for excellence in product quality, superior design and unsurpassed levels of customer service as a market leader in the design and manufacture of decorative jacquard fabrics for the world market.

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