• Product information: Chieftain MultiStretch

    Performance fabric – Chieftain MultiStretch Rosemary


    At Chieftain our passion is producing the best vinyl fabrics possible. As part of this process we work closely with specifiers, designers and members of the upholstery community. This group helped us at every step in the development of MultiStretch, an eight way stretch fabric ideally suited for seating where comfort is paramount.

    Technology fabric
    All of the Chieftain MultiStretch range consists of a backing cloth which is 92% cotton and 8% Lycra.
    Lycra (also known as Spandex or elastane) is a synthetic fiber known for its exceptional elasticity. It is stronger and more durable than natural rubber and is a polyester-polyurethane copolymer that was invented in 1958.
    With this mixture, we have virtually eliminated directionality, making the fabric easy to use and superb in upholstery.

    Performance fabric
    In situations where comfort needs to be at a maximum, the fabric must also remain practical for both the patient to use and staff to clean and maintain. We add silver zeolite based Ciba IRGAGUARD B5000 which inhibits the growth of bacteria, mould and yeast. Furthermore, these protective ingredients have allowed MultiStretch to counteract C.difficile, E.coli as well as MRSA and the vast majority of bacteria

    Colour palette
    MultiStretch consists of nine colours ranging from lighter to darker shades which provides beautiful tonal balance within the range while providing uncompromised durability. Although a limited spectrum, we have carefully focused the range to ensure it works where required.

    Conscious Design
    MultiStretch is REACH compliant, according to the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), REACH is a regulation of the European Union, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals.

    Wikipedia, (2015). Spandex. [online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spandex [Accessed 26 May 2015].

    Echa.europa.eu, (2015). REACH – ECHA. [online] Available at: http://echa.europa.eu/regulations/reach [Accessed 27 May 2015].







  • Crib Test Explained

    British Standards are the standards produced by BSI Group which ‘Set up standards of quality for goods and services, and prepare and promote the general adoption of British Standards’ (Wikipedia, 2015).

    In relation to furniture and upholstery there are a number of British Standards which must be observed. Furniture standards and regulations worldwide, such as BS 4875 (structural testing of domestic and contract seating), impose strict flammability testing for fabrics used in the upholstery process.

    According to FIRA, the Furniture Industry Research Association,

    flammability testing is increasingly important, with the effects of different tests (match, cigarette, crib 5 and crib 7) showing the effects of different ignition sources on fabrics and fillings as specified in the many aspects of BS 5852.

    FIRA also point out that the fabric is subjected to a series of ignition sources to cover the intensities of actual sources that might be encountered in various end use environments. The typical tests include:

    Ignition source 0 – smouldering cigarette
    Ignition source 1 – match or equivalent gas flame
    Ignition source 2 – gas flame
    Ignition source 3 – gas flame
    Ignition source 4 – wood crib
    Ignition source 5 – wood crib
    Ignition source 6 – wood crib
    Ignition source 7 – wood crib

    Over time and use, these test names have been abbreviated in the furniture and upholstery industry to ‘cigarette & match’, ‘Crib 1’, ‘Crib 5’ etc. and are therefore commonly simply referred to as ‘Source 5’ or ‘Crib 5’.

    So what is involved?

    The objective of the standard is to measure the ignitability of upholstered furniture material. According to BS 5852, the ignition sources for some of the tests include:

    Ignition source 0
    A smouldering cigarette is used as an ignition source.

    Ignition source 1
    A match or equivalent gas flame, using 45ml of butane gas from a burner, is used as the ignition source.

    Ignition source 3
    A gas flame, using 350ml of butane gas from a burner, is used as the ignition source.

    Ignition source 5
    A wooded crib, made of dry wood stacked in a lattice formation weighing 17g, is used as the ignition source.

    According to Fr-one.com the wooden crib is composed of small ‘wooden planks, glued together’ akin to Jenga blocks. The crib is placed on the test rig and ignited with a match. If no flaming or progressive smoldering is observed on both cover and interior material, the test is recorded as ‘no ignition’ and the material passes the test.

    Figure 1: Ignited Wooden crib – Ignition source 5 or ‘Crib 5’ Credit: www.satra.co.uk

    British Standard indicate that the size of the Crib vary depending on the test and are conducted within specified temperature and humidity ranges. Each test is conducted in duplicate and both tests must satisfy the pass/fail criteria in order to comply with the test requirements. Typical pass/fail criteria for Crib 5 include escalating flaming, flame passing through the full thickness of the fabric or any fabric that continues to flame 10 minutes after igniting the crib.

    Ferco seating, who produce a wide choice of seating for auditoria of all types, present a video on YouTube where two test seats are ignited – One with Crib 5 rated fabric and one without. At 2:51, the wooden crib is placed on a seat and ignited;

    The video is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxRkDekn7kk


    Wikipedia, (2015). British Standards. [online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Standards [Accessed 20 Apr. 2015].

    Fira.co.uk, (2015). FIRA – Technical Information – Registered Article. [online] Available at: http://www.fira.co.uk/technical-information/article/32/how-is-ignition-resistance-measured [Accessed 20 Apr. 2015].

    British Standards (2006) BS 5852:2006 Methods of test for assessment of the ignitability of upholstered seating by smouldering and flaming ignition sources. London.

    Fr-one.com, (2015). FR Fabric Standard | British BS 5852 source 0, 1, 5 (Cigarette, Match) and (Crib 5). [online] Available at: http://www.fr-one.com/en/standard/british-bs-5852-source-0-1-5-cigarette-match-and-crib- [Accessed 21 Apr. 2015].

    Satra.co.uk, (2015). Spotlight – Upholstered contract furniture flammability. [online] Available at: https://www.satra.co.uk/spotlight/article_view.php?id=289 [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].

    YouTube, (2015). Ferco Seating Crib 5 Seat Fire Test. [online] Available at: http://chieftainfabrics.com/24 [Accessed 21 Apr. 2015].




  • The Good and the Bad Vinyl Fabrics

    Side by side comparison, a poorly produced vinyl fabric will ‘look’ the same as a highly engineered version.


    A known idiom reminds us not to be ‘penny wise, pound foolish’ and in almost any purchase or specification decision we can easily get seduced by a lower price and not fully realise the actual cost. We have all experienced this in one form or another, but is this apparent in a fabric specification decision? Surely fabric is fabric?

    Unfortunately, not all fabrics are created equally and vinyl fabric is no exception. As vinyl is a synthetic material, it can be manufactured in many ways. The marketplace has both ‘The Good and the Bad Vinyl Fabrics’. Matkovic ́ et al highlights some of the factors that contribute to good quality vinyl production which include;

    • using good quality raw materials,
    • ensuring precise control of how PU paste with the paper passes through the dryer at the correct speed of 10 mm/min,
    • how the temperature needs to be adjusted to 80℃ to allow drying of various solvents which need to evaporate.

    Not correctly managing any of these steps can have dramatic effects on the end product. Unfortunately, to look at the product, even in a side by side comparison, a poorly produced vinyl fabric will ‘look’ the same as a highly engineered version. The difference only becomes apparent after some use.
    In ‘Coated Textiles: Principles and Applications’ Sen points out that upholstery fabric is made up of layers fixed to a cotton base fabric;

    These fabrics contain a knitted base fabric, a polyurethane foam middle layer and a wear-resistant top coat…The composite is then foamed, cross-linked, and laminated to a textile base…An important requirement of the upholstery fabric is that it should have proper flame-retardant additive to reduce the ignitability of the products.

    Additional ingredients can also be added to improve the fabrics performance. For instance UV (ultraviolet) stabilisers can also be added to protect the fabric in direct sunlight. Again, from looking at a highly engineered fabric, compared to a poor grade one, there is no way of knowing if the product has UV stabilisers included and again this will not be known until the fabric starts to fade or flake after exposure to sunlight.
    Even the quantity used in each layer has a massive impact on the vinyl and the cost associated with producing it. Coated Textiles: Principles and Applications points out that;

    Upholstery-grade cloth has a thick foam layer ranging from 360 to 480 grams per meter squared, a top layer of 180 to 360 grams per meter squared.

    Producing vinyl fabric below these tolerances, which is common practice in cheaper grade vinyls, will naturally result in an inferior product, yet may remain unknown to the buyer. Typically, cheaper vinyl manufacturers use less expensive ‘fillers’ and as Sen further points out, ‘the primary role of a filler in PVC is reduction in cost’. Extensive use of filler in the production of a fabric will again have no initial visual indication.
    Again, performance would only become apparent when in situ.
    One major furniture store in the UK, DFS, came under heavy criticism for supplying poor quality furniture recently. The knock on effect was damage to the DFS brand and an investigation by BBC TV who pointed out that due to the poor quality fabric being used in their leather and faux leather sofas, they failed the necessary standards for UK fire safety regulations and were therefore shown as illegal for sale in the UK. Secondary costs such as the re-upholstery and transport are never factored in along with the damage caused to the brand and negative publicity generated. As a specifier, supplier or manufacturer of furniture, is it worth the risk? If you visit a restaurant, store or office and notice poor quality upholstered furniture where the colour is fading, rubbing off or the material is flaking, what impression does this create? What does this communicate about the organisation or brand?

    As highlighted in Mix Magazine March 2015 edition, as dealerships evolve and respond to a marketplace that views furniture as part of brand identity, contract furniture companies, are under constant pressures to deliver quality products with the correct margins. They can easily be seduced by a lower fabric price. However, for their customers, they are the centre of knowledge and excellence and must examine their client’s needs objectively and supply a coherent solution. Thinking ‘fabric is fabric’ can easily lead to poor quality selection with the end result being threefold:
    damaging the relationship with the client,
    weakening the ‘consultant’ position,
    having to absorb the additional cost of having to collect, transport, re-upholstery and re-deliver.

    • damaging the relationship with the client,
    • weakening the ‘consultant’ position,
    • having to absorb the additional cost of having to collect, transport, re-upholstery and re-deliver.

    All of which epitomises ‘penny wise, pound foolish’.


    Matkovic, V, Cubric, I, and Skenderi, Z. (2014) ‘Thermal resistance of polyurethane-coated knitted fabrics before and after weathering’, Textile Research Journal, November 2014 vol. 84 no. 19. pp. 2015-2025.

    Sen, A. K (2007) Coated Textiles: Principles and Applications, Second Edition, Florida, USA:CRC Press, pp.148

    BBC, (2015). Your Money Their Tricks – DFS sales tactics – BBC One. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/r5pvRcspQH8jjJ5JJpNkvq/dfs-sales-tactics [Accessed 16 Apr. 2015].

    Furniturenews.net, (2015). Furniture retailers implicated in BBC’s fire regulation investigation. [online] Available at: http://www.furniturenews.net/news/articles/2014/01/1675215348-furniture-retailers-implicated-bbcs-fire-regulation-investigation [Accessed 16 Apr. 2015].

    Mixinteriors.com, (2015). Spotlight: The Dealer Market | March 2015. [online] Available at: http://www.mixinteriors.com/march-x2015/i/630/desc/spotlight-the-dealer-market/ [Accessed 17 Apr. 2015].




  • Will Leather ever go out of Fashion?

    Concept faux leather garment by Eleanor Paulin, Edinburgh College of Art.

    Concept faux leather garment by Eleanor Paulin, Edinburgh College of Art.

    In a recent interview, Stella McCartney was asked why she did not use leather, to which she replied:

    Many people claim that leather is okay to use because it is a by-product of the meat industry, however, livestock production is one of the major causes of the world’s most pressing environmental problems, including global warming, land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Tanneries are listed as top polluters on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Superfund” list, a list that identifies the most critical industrial sites in need of environmental cleanup (McCartney, 2014).

    But if leather is so harsh to the environment, why is it everywhere, from shoes, belts and purses to furniture and car interiors?

    According to Jacobs (2014), processing leather requires copious amounts of energy and a toxic stew of chemicals including formaldehyde, coal tar, and some cyanide containing finishes. Jacobs further explains that most of our leather is sourced from overseas, from countries like China and India.

    PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) published an article titled “The Leather Industry’ (2014) and explain that ‘more than 1 billion animals are killed worldwide for the leather trade every single year’. In a similar article titled ‘The Global Leather Trade’ published by PETA (2014), they also claim:

    Most of the leather in the U.S. and Europe comes from India, China, and other countries that either have no animal welfare laws or have laws that go largely or completely unenforced (PETA 2014).


    Will the Fashion Industry ever move away from Leather?
    Pioneering sustainable and cruelty free fashion is Stella McCartney. The Guardian reported from Paris Fashion week 2015 how she unveiled a new range using Fur Free Fur and used vinyl in accessories.

    However, the media is usually quick to point out the faults with synthetic materials, for example, The Wall Street Journal reported from Paris fashion week 2015 that “the trouble with faux leather, is that it can’t easily be buffed back to perfection when it’s been scratched”.

    According to a UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organisation) report titled ‘Future Trends in the World Leather and Leather Products Industry and Trade’ published in 2010, the estimated global trade value of Leather is approximately US$100 billion per year. The report also highlights:

    There are now no sectors in which leather cannot be replaced by other materials, and the industry has to protect the image of leather products as synonymous with quality – both aesthetic and functional. As technical textiles develop further and “synthetic leathers” improve, the challenges to leather will become more menacing (UNIDO 2010).

    In short, both leather and fashion support each other. The fashion industry will not move away from leather until consumers demand this.

    Who will drive the change?

    The UNIDO report (2010) outlines that consumers and users should get more education, so that no one will consciously buy an item of bad quality. “Consuming should become an intelligent and responsible act”.

    Kotler & Pfoertsch (2006) believe “the main idea is to create consumer demand for the ingredient at the retail level, so that they pull the product through the distribution channel, forcing middle stages to use this ingredient.”

    But it’s not just consumers who can make a major impact. Newell’s article ‘Conscious Design Can Drive Systemic Change in the Fashion Industry‘ (2015) notes that even when students love design, surprisingly they often don’t know about all the design choices they can make at the beginning of the process to improve the product and improve the industry;

    when they work for a big brand, often designers only see part of the production process, and because the fashion supply chain is so complex, they are making design decisions based on limited understanding (Newell, 2015).

    Newell concludes her article with:

    If new generations of designers bring conscious and ethical thought to the design phase of the process, progress may begin to permeate the fabric of the industry from the ground up…designers will be able to see the big picture and learn the right questions to ask in order to make sustainability start at the beginning (Newell, 2015).

    Leather appears to remain popular for the foreseeable future – as long as consumers demand it. However, change in the industry will be required. Consumers have to take responsibility and ensure they purchase ethically produced products.

    Mainstream design brands will also need to embrace technical textiles further and designers need to show how synthetic leather can be used to improve products and the industry. Once synthetic leathers poses a challenge to leather, real reform will begin.


    McCartney, S. (2014) Q&A WITH STELLA. Available at: http://www.stellamccartney.com/experience/en/stellas-world/sustainability/stella-interview/ [Accessed 16 March 2015].

    Jacobs, B. (2014) How Bad is Leather and What Are the Alternatives?. Available at: http://life.gaiam.com/article/how-bad-leather-and-what-are-alternatives [Accessed 16 March 2015].

    The Leather Industry (2014). Available at: http://www.peta.org.uk/issues/animals-not-wear/leather/ [Accessed 20 March 2015].

    The Global Leather Trade (2015). Available at: http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/leather-industry/global-leather-trade/ [Accessed 16 March 2015].

    Cartner-Morley, J. (2015) Paris fashion week: Stella McCartney unveils ‘fur-free fur’. Available at:http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2015/mar/09/paris-fashion-week-stella-mccartney-unveils-fur-free-fur [Accessed 20 March 2015].

    Paris Fashion Week Highlights: Saint Laurent, Leonard, Hermès and Sonia Rykiel (2015). Available at: http://www.wsj.com/articles/paris-fashion-week-highlights-saint-laurent-leonard-hermes-and-sonia-rykiel-1425992779 [Accessed 18 March 2015].

    United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (2010). Future Trends in the World Leather and Leather Products Industry and Trade . Available at: http://leatherpanel.org/sites/default/files/publications-attachments/future_trends_in_the_world_leather_and_leather_products_industry_and_trade.pdf [Accessed 16 March 2015].

    Kotler, P. and Pfoertsch, W. (2006) B2B Brand Management. New York: Springer, pp 131.

    Newell, A. (2015) Conscious Design Can Drive Systemic Change in the Fashion Industry. Available at: http://www.triplepundit.com/2015/02/conscious-design-can-drive-systemic-change-in-the-fashion-industry/ [Accessed 18 March 2015].


  • How The Royal London Hospital used design to be less intimidating

    The Royal London Hospital is one of six hospitals owned and managed by the largest NHS Trust in the UK – Barts Health. The trust is one of Britain’s healthcare providers leading the way in improving patient experience. One of the strategies for making this a reality is funding a charity organisation, Vital Arts, to drive arts programmes that transform the hospital experience for all stakeholders.

    In their preparation to transform the Royal London’s interior, Vital Arts conducted a series of consultations with hospital staff and patients to choose fifteen designers and artists for the project. Each of them was given a specific area to decorate, including reception areas, play spaces, elevator lobbies, and various ward settings. To make the interior less intimidating for all, the artists had to consider multiple factors prior to creating a colour palette that would deliver the brief.

    Some of the most predominantly used colours in this project include green, yellow, orange, and blue. This direction might tally with a 2012 interview in Healthcare Design magazine, with director of colour marketing for Sherwin-Williams, Jackie Jordan. Jordan recommends a balance of warm and cool colours for healthcare settings. “Cool colours tend to be more calming, so things that are in the blues and the blue-greens, really put people at ease because they do bring a sense of tranquility”. She further explains how “soothing colours can affect a patient’s mood and even contribute to the healing process.” On the other hand, stimulating colours such as vibrant yellows and reds for children’s hospitals, specifically activity rooms “where children are going to have some fun for the day participating in crafts, for example.”

    The new interior design of the Royal London includes painted illustrations, wood pieces, porcelain sculptures, and other 3D design elements. Director of Nursing and Governance for Children at Barts Health NHS Trust, Sally Shearer said “these fun designs are an important part of our commitment to easing children’s fears of being in a seemingly strange and scary building, to instead create a warm and comforting place of healing.”


    Respiratory (Ward 7E) by Miller Goodman. Source: vitalarts.org.uk

    Haematology (Ward 7F) by Donna Wilson. Source: vitalarts.org.uk

    Trauma and gastroenterology (Wing 7D) by Morag Myerscough. Source: psfk.com

    The idea of creating a world away from the ward is based on research proving the positive effect of environments that help reduce patient’s anxiety, both in children and adults. Those effects amount to an increase in patient’s appetite, better response to treatment, even pain relief. Textile artist Ella Doran who designed the bedside curtains with a panoramic view of the Thames confirmed the project’s success. “A seminal moment for me was when a three-year-old girl stopped crying the moment she saw the curtains, pointing excitedly to the hidden cats and rabbits. That’s when I knew my design had worked.” The Trust feel that the new interior helped in making the hospital less scary for kids, in addition to helping nurses bond and build trust with their small patients, which makes performing medical tasks much easier.

    This article is based on industry research and the official information surrounding the project.









  • Concept Furniture International

    Concept Furniture international supply hire furniture to the events and exhibition industry globally. It’s a fast paced, image conscious industry demanding high quality products and exceptional service. According to Iain Love, Sales Director at Concept Furniture;
    “The demands from our contract manufacturing division sees us working with suppliers who can meet our specific needs, delivering quality products and services – Chieftain Fabrics are definitely one such supplier”.

    As Aviation Week’s show MRO moves around the globe, Concept Furniture International moves with it – this year the prestigious event was held in the Spanish capital Madrid and was a huge success, the perfect mix of fantastic exhibitors, weather & location made it an event to remember. Concept Furniture International are the official furniture supplier to MRO supplying both space only and shell scheme areas with original designs and a wide range of soft furnishings that are upholstered using Chieftain fabrics leatherette vinyl.


    Milanos DT20 seating at The MRO Europe Exhibition, Madrid, Spain.

    Jojo and Bow seating at The MRO Europe Exhibition, Madrid, Spain.

    Oakley black seating at The MRO Europe Exhibition, Madrid, Spain.

    With the bespoke and rental segments of the business growing rapidly we have been able to work with high-end clients and showcase our work on many platforms. The diverse textures and colours Chieftain offer help us add value to our proposition and exceed customer needs.

    For more information see conceptfurniture.co.uk

  • ‘Cocoa Night’ in Clerkenwell

    Connection have been designing and manufacturing contemporary commercial furniture since 1995. They work in partnership with some of the best furniture designers in the UK and Europe to develop new and original product concepts which allow Connection to respond quickly to the ever-changing demands of the commercial furniture industry.

    On Thursday 18th September 2014 at 6.30 pm Chieftain Fabrics with Connection will host a ‘Cocoa Night’…a night full of chocolate, drinks and fun with The Cocoa Box chocolatier company.

    Amongst other things, the evening will include:

    • Chocolate Martinis on arrival
    • Induction from a professional chocolatier on everything ‘chocolaty’
    • Demonstrations on making chocolates
    • Chocolate preparation!
    • Demonstration on decoration techniques
    • Making time, where you can make our own chocolates which you can take home!

    If you’re interested in attending, please contact Connection or Chieftain Fabrics for an official invite.

    Connection Showroom
    32/33 Dallington Street
    EC1V 0BB



  • Care for vinyl fabric


    Chieftain Fabrics offer vinyl fabric in the ultimate stain resistance and clean-ability. The colours and patterns within our ranges have been chosen with this in mind.
    All of our contract ranges have been tested with practically every cleaning product on the market and are capable of withstanding the most rigorous cleaning regime. Our fabrics can be used with all NHS approved cleaning solutions such as Chlor-Clean, Haz-tab, Milton and Tristel.

    To help look after Chieftain vinyl fabric, we have produced a short video staring Sinéad from our Marketing department with step by step instructions on how to clean and care for vinyl:

    → Step 1. Clean the surface with a vacuum cleaner.

    → Step 2. Use a recommended cleaner or bleach up to 5% solution to 95% water.

    → Step 3. And Rinse and dry.

  • Anatomy of our contract grade vinyl fabric

    Electron microscopes are used to investigate the ultrastructure of a wide range of biological and inorganic specimens including microorganisms, cells, large molecules, biopsy samples, metals, and crystals.

    At Chieftain Fabrics, the electron microscope is often used for quality control and analysis.
    Recently we caught the attached image in our lab which shows the side profile of our just colour range of vinyl.

    False colour has been added to help differentiate the various layers at 100x magnification.


    Electron Microscope Image of our contract grade vinyl fabric


    In the image, starting at the bottom, you can see the strands of the cotton backing cloth with the adhesive layer on top.
    Next is the foaming layer with unmissable ‘bubbles’ and on top is the lacquer layer.



  • Just Colour Range 2014

    As we begin the new year here at Chieftain Fabrics, we are delighted to launch our new range of just colours range as part of our 2014 collection. We have just put the finishing touches to our new colour card and we expect to start sending them out in late January/early February 2014. We have some really exciting colours and names which have been developed in-house along with industry experts. Whilst incorporating contemporary colours, the new range is now more versatile than ever and suitable for almost every environment. Engineered and designed to sit amiably alongside other furnishings, the new range performs perfectly in standalone pieces or in conjunction with any palette when a bold design statement is required.

    To pre-order our new card, get in touch today.

    Or, download a digital version here.