Newcastle Fabrics Corp., Brooklyn, NY, recently moved its finishing facility to a 60,000-square-foot facility in North Carolina—a historic move in a sense.
For more than 50 years, Newcastle Fabrics has been serving the window coverings market as a weaver and finisher of specialty fabrics based out of New York where the company was founded. Its new North Carolina facility, however, will specialize in window shade finishing with greater capacity, including 120-inch wide fabric finishing.
A family owned company that pays attention to the needs of the window shade manufactures who need something special, Newcastle Fabrics’ mission has always been to bring to the market new and innovative textiles.
THROUGH THE DECADES
During the 1960s, Newcastle manufactured Plisse and Spice fabrics as an alternative to the fiberglass fabrics that dominated the mass market.
In the 1970s, it was asked to recreate domestically a basic polyester crepe, aluminized pleated shade fabric in the 72-inch width. At the time, imported fabric was only 27 inches wide. Newcastle successfully brought the 72-inch product to the market, and sold it for many years.
Newcastle Fabrics also was a pioneer in the vinyl covered fiberglass sunscreen fabrics that shade the interior and preserve the view. Newcastle manufactures and finishes a line branded as Castle Veil, and supports a stocking line that allows a fabricator to buy small quantities, so that the window shade manufacturer does not have to support a large inventory. Newcastle stocks 80 items and is constantly generating new patterns.
In anticipation of end-users’ concerns, Newcastle weaves and stocks a line of eco friendly cellulose natural window shade fabrics made in the United States. Patterns such as Reeds, Matchsticks and Oriel have become industry standards. The company stocks more than 90 different styles.
COALS TO NEWCASTLE
Newcastle Fabrics started in business making fabrics for the handbag and shoe trades and the replacement auto seat covering market.
When these two businesses evaporated, it developed an acoustically transparent fabric for the hi-fi and amplifier trade. Acoustone Grille Cloth is a division of Newcastle Fabrics, and remains a leader in that field. In the 1970s, Newcastle Fabrics started manufacturing flame retardant drapery fabrics for the contract drapery market.
When Newcastle Fabrics was incorporated 55 years ago, the lawyer who was doing the incorporation asked the founder, George Backer, why he chose Newcastle as a name. He responded, “Starting up another textile firm in New York is like bringing coals to Newcastle,” a reference to the old adage about bringing coals to the coal center of England. New York scarcely needed another textile firm! At that time, there were 26 textile firms in the New York and New Jersey area. As it turns out, Newcastle was the last textile firm to leave New York.
John Morelli, Newcastle’s president, recounts, “in 1954, I married into the textile business after graduating from Brandeis University as an American Civilization major with thoughts of going on to law school. The day of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) was a beautiful May day. Too stuffy to sit in the auditorium at Harvard. So, you can thank the good weather and the textile business for saving the world from another lawyer.”
When the contract drapery business became a commodity business, Newcastle searched for a new market and found a niche in the window coverings field. Newcastle sees a future of adding value via domestic and imported fabrics and making them ready for the fabricator. The future of the textile window coverings business is eco friendly fabrics, and Newcastle is taking measures to make sure that all new products fulfill this need.