Craft Business: Tell us about the history of the company?
Sharron Belcher: Vlieseline is a brand of the family owned Freudenberg based in Weinheim, Germany and is the world’s market leader for non-woven performance materials. It is the first company to introduce non-wovens to the market and, thanks to ongoing technological development and innovation, it is one of the world’s largest and most diverse manufacturers of these today. Since 1948, Freudenberg have been developing products for interlinings, Vileda cloths, carpet backings, hygiene applications, automotive, filtration and building products, all using non-woven technologies.
CB: What sort of products does Vlieseline specialise in?
SB: Vlieseline products are the most famous and prestigious interlinings for those with a passion for sewing as well as for professional tailors/dressmakers, quilters, embroiderers and garment manufacturers. Vlieseline also specialise in creative products for textile artists and craft makers alike. These high quality interlinings provide the basic ingredient for a perfect finish and safe solutions.
CB: Vlieseline is a family-run business – how has this contributed to its success?
SB: After more than 150 years, the Freudenberg Group continues to be a wholly owned family enterprise. We strongly believe that our long term business orientation is a major strength that benefits our customers and partners. While we are not averse to reasonable risks, financial prudence and solidity will continue to determine the scope and speed of our strategic development. Freudenberg has a long and successful tradition of worldwide cooperation, alliances and partnerships which enable us to better serve our customers and strengthen our competitive position.
CB: Tell us about Vlieseline’s recent corporate unification, with a new name and website?
SB: What some people don’t realise is that Vlieseline belongs to us, Freudenberg, the founding German company. Starting from Germany, we have distributed the same products worldwide over the years; in the United Kingdom under the brand Vilene, and in the South of Europe under Flieselina. Since the 50’s, the world has changed, becoming more global. For this reason we decided to go back to our roots and promote our interlinings worldwide under one brand: Vlieseline.
CB: What impact has Vlieseline’s range had on the sewing industry?
SB: Interlinings are in nearly every garment worn today, whether it be in a tailored jacket, fashion skirt, curtains, sofas or piece of art. The sewing industry has been able to achieve new cutting edge design in the UK due to the skills of designers and a diverse range of interlinings which make the impossible possible in garment engineering and crafting. Our products are high quality and the end result is always one that suits and is durable. Our materials are tested and that has always been our USP. We always have and continue to work very closely with major design houses, crafters, teachers, colleges and artists, creating very strong relationships for our brand.
CB: What sewing trends do you predict will be popular in spring/summer 2016?
SB: Kits are becoming ever more popular with designers selling ideas and instructions to consumers. Copper metallics are very on trend and will be seen in dressmaking and home décor. And as always, bag making and home décor continues to be popular as they are quick, easy projects that even the beginner can attempt.
CB: What new products can we expect to see from Vlieseline?
SB: Currently the items that we are most excited about are our natural mix battings, 279 Cotton Mix 80-20. This is a needle punched wadding with a blend of 80 per cent cotton and 20 per cent polyester plus the added support of scrim, which gives the quilter a soft handle and luxurious drape in its lightweight construction while still offering a high level of support. In addition, a new foam based wadding, STYLE-VIL, which has been developed for bag and accessory making will be launched this year at CHSI Stitches on our stand DO2. Off the back off the success of the Multi Bag kit, we are currently working on a new range of ready-to-use kits which we are sure will prove to be another big hit with consumers!
CB: How do you see the sewing market evolving over the next few years?
SB: Over the last few years, Vlieseline has had a strong presence at both trade and consumer UK shows and this has helped us to take an overview of the textiles arena and the sewing market in general. The interest in textile based crafts, from DIY fashions and creating garments, to home decor, patchwork and quilting and textile art, is surging. While we are still noting a growing interest from those with little or no creative experiences in these areas, we are also delighted to have discovered that many are returning to us again and again, to further build their skills and knowledge of textile based crafts, suggesting that this current popularity is set to grow and evolve with the consumer. We feel that the key to continuing to boost and support this sector and encourage growth lies in continuing to provide entry level information while also looking to advance skills and therefore interest in those that are currently keen stitchers.
CB: What advice would you offer to retailers?
SB: Education consistently seems to be at the heart of success in any sector within our industry. Retailers that have a greater understanding of the products that they stock undoubtedly are able to better serve the customer. As the Vlieseline range is so extensive and offers creative solutions for a wide range of textile based crafts, we are taking greater efforts to ensure that the retailer is fully informed about our products, and the many and varied applications. To support this we offer retailers a wide selection of point of sale material in the form of product information sheets, brochures for specific sectors like dressmaking and patchwork and quilting, and guides to the full range along with the creative ranges. These not only give the full details about each item, but also feature its care instructions, which is essential for dressmakers and home stitchers alike.
This collection of supporting information sheets also include users guides and, in many cases, offers suggestions for projects featuring these products. In addition, one of the aspects of the Vlieseline unification that we are really excited about is the new website, www.vlieseline.com. Not only is the site user-friendly, allowing both retailers and consumers to search through the vast array of Vlieseline products, but it also offers trouble shooting sections, how-to guides and a growing collection of video tutorials and free projects. We hope that this will prove to be a valuable resource for the textile community.
Staying abreast of the current trends is crucial – social media is a great way to keep your finger on the creative pulse of the consumer. Checking out popular pins on Pinterest, monitoring posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keeping up-to-date with the growing community of stitching and textile bloggers is a great way to stay in tune with the needs of the consumer.
CB: What are Vlieseline’s plans for the future?
SB: Vlieseline aims for one global voice in that we can tap into all the creative minds out there no matter where they are and build a community of designers, crafters and artists talking, engaging, making and sharing the love of Vlieseline products.