Louis Hornick Unveils Firefend FR Window Fashions

Fashionable flame-retardant goods head to retail

James Mammarella, March 1, 2010

As it draws toward its centennial anniversary, Louis Hornick & Company is preparing a major introduction for its newest product, Firefend – a patented, certified, fire-resistant, decorative window panel collection for residential use.

“This may be the best product we've developed in 30 years — it's certainly the most exciting,” ceo Louis Hornick II told HTT about what he called “the first flame-retardant, readymade window covering product for retail.”

Firefend, which the company has spent two years developing, is headed to a range of retailers now, and during market will be on display in the new Louis Hornick & Co. showroom at 117 East 38th Street (between Park and Lexington Aves.). The company had been among the first home textiles tenants at 261 Fifth Ave., dating its debut there to 1949.

Louis Hornick III, the company coo and known as “Tripp,” said Firefend has “passed all the strict commercial grades,” citing such industry certifications as NFPA 701-1999 and NFPA 701-2004.

Additional Firefend product value accrues from the use of heat transfer printing, a process Tripp Hornick said eliminates the use of water from the dyeing process. Firefend also offers noise-reduction and blackout functions, and the range of style offerings in the debut line includes a solids and prints. After evaluating both overseas and domestic sourcing and production, the company has established manufacturing for Firefend solely in the United States for now.

Each dye-lot of Firefend yardage is sent to either the Vartest Lab in New York City or to Diversified in Burlington, N.C., for testing. Once they've generated certification authenticating the piece's flame-retardant properties as up to commercial grade standards, the fabric goes off to cut and sew. Each panel carries on a tag the certification report results for its dye lot, so Hornick can trace every piece straight back to its test numbers.

Speaking of the production process, the elder Hornick said, “Firefend is not topically treated — the yarn is inherently flame-retardant — and by cutting the water from the dye process, we find the drapeability is shockingly good.”

“It surprised me,” he said of the soft hand and full drapeability of the Firefend fabric. Hornick would not divulge specific merchants, but said the company now is shipping to new accounts, and the Firefend product is helping to open up at least one additional tier of distribution for the first time in years.

Without detailing pricing ranges, Hornick said Firefend is planned as a top-of-the-line product and will appeal broadly. The initial line comprises 20 solid colors and nine prints, in makes from 24 inches to 120 inches, and will expand, he said, into “top treatments, plus sheers to shades.” He said the intent is to generate “a visceral reaction with mothers.” The company will design out for “traditional, contemporary, tweener, juvenile” and other fashion themes.

He said consumer marketing programs for Firefend will be both global and “managed cooperatively” with key retailers. On another marketing front, the company is unveiling a new logo — its sixth in 92 years — and will open up two websites on March 1: firefendcurtain.com and a refreshed louishornick.com.

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