Fabric Innovator Degomes Dies

Carole Sloan, March 10, 2008

Services were held here late last month for Anthony (Tony) Degomes, 67, who died Feb. 24 of cancer.

Degomes, a noted textiles designer and technician, retired from Quaker Fabrics in 2005, where he long served as vp of design and styling. He began his career interning with Henry Schott, head designer for Craftex, while attending the Philadelphia School of Textiles where he graduated with a degree in textile design. His first job was with Uniweave.

He was later hired by Alan Symonds, then the owner of Quaker Fabric, to head the company's design team. Roger Milliken hired him away from Quaker to join Milliken's upholstery fabric design team. For several years, Degomes moved back and forth between the two companies.

In the late 1970s he joined Grupo Pliana in Mexico City as director of design and styling, with the mandate to create a design group from the four companies that had been purchased, forming the fabric division for the fiber and yarn company, Polifil.

In 1983, together with Larry Liebenow and Duncan Whitehead, Nortex International was formed with the purchase of two yarn companies — American Rehrs and Rose Mills — as well as the weaver Quaker Fabric.

He retired from Quaker in 2005, and in recent years had been a consultant to mills in Brazil, where he was born of Italian parents.

In addition to his prowess in the world of textiles, Degomes was noted for his excellence on the soccer field, including the time when he played for the New York Cosmos.

Jack Glabman, co-principal of Westlake USA, remarked, "Tony had the unique ability to correlate the latest technology and fashion in fabrics. His strength was 'making it happen' with technology and fashion. I have great respect for him, and above all, he was a very nice, gentle man."

For Tom Muzekari, a longtime textile executive who knew Degomes from the early '70s at Milliken, "He was entertaining and a lot of fun to be with, but he also was a great designer and technician who could put both of those elements together. He put Milliken into the woven upholstery fabric business, and worked for the top mills at their peak times."

Muzekari added, "Tony always said the most difficult thing was to create an inexpensive fabric that looked expensive. The fun part was making expensive fabrics."

Degomes is survived by his wife, Elisa, and daughter Erica.

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