It is a new day for Scalamandré, the longest-running luxury fabric house in the United States. Since 1929, its fabrics have graced the interiors of iconic landmarks from the White House to the Metropolitan Opera House. With a reinvigorated vision and a goal of becoming a global lifestyle brand—an American Etro, so to speak—the brand has been expanding into new areas including tabletop designs with Lenox, pillows for Barneys New York, a bedding collection with Eastern Accents, and most recently, textile collaboration with designer Kathryn M. Ireland to debut in Spring 2013. Lighting, ties and apparel lines are also in the works.
Steven Stolman. Photo courtesy Unabashedly Prep.
Since he began in 2011, Scalamandré President Steven Stolman has put the focus on revitalizing the brand, which had been described as "near extinction." The first thing he did was familiarize himself with the archives, using them as a springboard for the future. He also hired a Vice President of Design, textile designer Albert V. Sardelli, to further expand the creative dialog.
When Scalamandré owner Louis Renzo began seeking a new President, Stolman, who is known for his experience in fashion design and textiles, was a natural choice. "My love affair with this venerable house began early in my career, so for me personally, this [was] a dream come true," said Stolman.
Scalamandré pillows for Barney's New York
Editor at Large caught up with Stolman to learn more about his vision for the company, its expansion strategy, and why his ultimate goal is to become the Etro of the home world.
How does your background in fashion inform your work at Scalamandré?
When I started my eponymous fashion label in 1995, I found interior textiles appealing as you could buy exquisite fabrics in small quantities. I fell in love with Toile de Jouey, the scale and subject matter worked well on the style of clothing I was creating. I always preferred using Scalamandré, he says, calling their signature bold designs "rambunctious."
What does this unique fashion vantage point bring to Scalamandré and the new vision?
I fell in love with the archives and decided my job was to make the archives come alive. To see, touch and feel the fabrics, touching history, I developed a different level of respect and admiration. The house has been a part of monumental projects throughout history. There is a deep legacy here of motif, pattern and color. I set out to reenergize these classics through re-coloring and rescaling them for today.
Take us through the new vision for the brand, what companies do you see as models for growth and brand building?
The houses being decorated now are of a different proportion. The ceilings are taller, the volume of rooms is different, and the way spaces are being used is varied. Rooms have multiple purposes and identities, fabric needs to multi-task. Reflecting societal shifts, great rooms open into kitchens and there is less formality. A pattern that worked well on silk in the 1960's might not work as well today so it needs to be on cotton. My wish is for Scalamandré is to become the American Etro, as a global lifestyle brand.
How was it decided upon to make the zebra the new icon? Is it the most recognizable pattern making it the most identifiable?
Louis Renzo, when he bought the company, reviewed top seller patterns. The red zebra was in there. He loved the pattern and decided to designate it as the signature motif, as the company’s iconic trademark. The silk tiger velvet is also a top iconic pattern and we have a new giraffe as well. The design world looks to Scalamandré for inspiring animal prints. There is a certain chic associated with animal patterns, the scale and repeat is random and consistent.
You have introduced exciting new partnerships to grow the brand as a lifestyle. What steps are you taking to further the brand and its presence?
We are working on partnerships that make sense for the brand with extensions that enhance its lifestyle aspects. We met with Lenox for china designs and they saw the potential immediately. The same thing occurred with our new bedding partner brand. One thing opens doors to another. The common denominator we seek out is quality and made in America as much as we can. Lenox makes bone china in the U.S.; our bedding is created in Chicago. We are exploring lighting, have a tie collection, as well as other apparel coming down the road.
What are the core qualities of the brand and its iconic history that gives it so much potential? Why is this the right time for the brand to turn a corner?
We have a treasure trove here that inspires so many designers, past and present. The brand is so romantic and it lends itself to these extensions. I like to say the best is yet to come. The design community has fallen in love with the company again. Designers sleep easier knowing Scalamandré is on firm ground. I’m honored to part of that mission.
Written by Marisa Marcantonio