Guided tour of the Maison Garnier-Thiebaut
If you choose French quality for your linens, make sure you take a detour to Gerardmer in the Vosges where a number of still thriving businesses are determined to face the challenge of global competition. This is the case for the renowned Maison Garnier-Thiebaut, created in 1833 and labelled a Living Heritage Company since 2006. It now concentrates its production on the high end and it has kindly opened the doors of its workshops to us for a guided tour!
From the cadenced singing of textile looms to the vapours of mercerisation and from the design office to the clatter of sewing machines, it is Paul Montclos himself, at the helm of the company for the last 20 years, who accompanies us on the tour of the manufacture of towels, tablecloths, and pillowcases.
Using tens or hundreds of threads according to the complexity of the final design, the warper coils the thread on a metal cylinder known as the "beam roll". It is then placed on the jacquard loom, the warp advancing at the pace of the intersection with the weft thread. Formerly guided by shuttles, the weft thread today moves back and forth thanks to a lance and a jet of air.
The "Jacquard" specialisation in damask products allows individual selection of the warp thread in high or low position for each cycle. This technique allows an infinity of designs to be woven with a wealth of intersections without limit, all controlled by computer program. CAD is used to transcribe the weave style.
Designers come up with the designs, patterns and colours for 40 new models per season (80 a year) for the new collections. Hand drawn and using tracing paper the pattern is scanned in black and white. The task is then to set the colour of each thread which, through intersection, gives the desired shade.
In order to produce all these original models, Garnier-Thiebaut masters the expertise of finishing (which gives the fabric its firmness, volume and flexibility). The company also carries out its own dyeing of thread or fabrics, which opens the doors to limitless creativity.
The dye known as "Grand teint" is a guarantee of quality: it resists the repeated washing with hot water carried out by hotels and large houses which account for more than half of Garnier-Thiebaut's sales.
Since the arrival of Paul Montclos in 1995, the company has specialised in the high-end and many products still require traditional tailoring tasks. Here, the fabric is cut according to the "line" and each batch of pieces is made on individual machines with the experience and expertise of seamstresses, who today are working on the corners of a table cloth and pillowcases.
The company is constantly innovating by offering a wide range of high quality, fully functional products such as the coated tablecloths or remarkable stain-resistant greensweet.
Holder of EPV and Vosges textile labels, the company exports French quality to over 80 countries worldwide.