Standard Textile brings Italian tradition, innovation to hotels

Not so long ago, Standard Textile Co. was manufacturing towels and textiles for all of Marriott International’s brands save one—the luxury Ritz-Carlton brand. “One of the people at Marriott actually said to us, ‘You are probably the largest hospitality textile manufacturer in the world. You have plants all over the world and you have marketing, sales and distribution all over the world. But the one thing that you don't have is a luxury brand,’” recalled Gary Heiman, president and CEO of Standard Textile. But if the company was going to cater to the luxury segment, Heiman knew it needed a product that would be worth luxury hoteliers’ attention.

“The first thing we realized was that most luxury [textile] brands were brands that were just given a name that [hoteliers] associate with luxury,” said Heiman. Without strong manufacturing practices, the product wouldn’t be any better than any other textile. Exploring various options, the company was pleased with textiles made in Italy and began meeting with manufacturers on the peninsula. 

In the Milan suburb of Cuvio, the Standard team toured the manufacturing plant of Mascioni, a textile company launched in 1957 by brothers Bernardo and Umberto Mascioni to make scarves. “As a technical person myself, I was immediately taken aback by the degree of sophistication,” Heiman said of the factory. The facility, he said, was focused on innovation and creating “the real thing” rather than slapping a new label on an existing product, and had already developed a good reputation in Italy’s fashion-related industries. 

The textiles were what the Standard team had been looking for, and the company acquired Mascioni’s global hospitality business, including the 15-year-old Mascioni Hotel Collection brand, in November 2018 from a venture capital firm. That firm, Heiman noted, lacked the sales force to grow Mascioni as a brand, but that sales force was what Standard had. “They really wanted to grow their hospitality [segment], which really was a very, very small division of Mascioni because they were doing so much other work for brands,” he said, citing Polo Ralph Lauren, Armani/Casa, Calvin Klein Home and Restoration Hardware as some of Mascioni’s retail clients. 

Growing Upscale

With its new brand in place, Standard began taking steps to market the textiles to luxury hotels in the U.S. Standard’s top 30 salespeople went to the Cuvio factory to meet with the brand leaders. Angelo Fugazza, the Mascioni Hotel Collection’s brand manager, showed the salespeople what the Italian team did, how they did it and why they did it. “And I have to say that after just a few short months, the results really worldwide have been amazing,” Heiman said. Not only does the brand provide towels for Ritz-Carlton hotels, but Standard Textile’s relationship with Marriott has put Mascioni linens on beds at St. Regis hotels and other luxury properties in Marriott’s portfolio. 

The company, Fugazza said, works directly with designers “in order to create something unique [for] each property, respecting the identity of the property, the identity of the brand or the owner or any input that the designers could give us.” 

Beyond designing textiles, a significant portion of Mascioni’s team is focused on research to determine the best raw materials for each use. “We use yarns that are 100 percent Supima, which is a premium quality for cotton, considered like the cashmere of the cotton,” said Fugazza. The material, he explained, not only has a good “hand”—an industry term for how a material feels against the skin—but also is durable for a longer life. The company also has 100 percent linen fabrics, which Fugazza said are good for warmer weather while the cotton sheets are suitable for colder days.

Clicking with Clients

Each hotel that Mascioni works with starts the process by choosing between crisp sheets or soft sheets, Heiman said. “They can decide the type of weave that they want. We'll help them along by showing them samples and saying, ‘You can do this to get this feeling or do this to get that feeling.’” One of the hotels Mascioni provides custom linens for is the Baccarat Hotel in New York City. The agreement came about after the hotel’s leaders met with Mascioni’s team in italy. “They asked a lot of [questions] to be sure that we were really manufacturing the products in Italy,” Fugazza recalled. When the hotel team was satisfied with the product and ready to seal the deal, they had one request: Baccarat is famous as a crystal brand, and the company’s clear-crystal chandeliers all include a single red crystal as an accent. “We have to give them a touch [of something different], but just a touch,” Fugazza said. The teams finally selected a fabric developed from one of Mascioni’s 3,000 designs, inspired in part by the architecture of classical Parisian buildings. “And they liked the concept.” The linens with the special design, he added, are used as the bottom sheet on the bed, so guests only see the artwork after the turn-down service. 

Logic in Logistics

Mascioni’s DreamCotton linens have 200 threads per square inch, which Fugazza acknowledges may seem like a low thread count. But the quality of the product can make even low thread counts feel comfortable, he added. “800 count, 600 count, 400 count, 300 count—just count on us,” Heiman quipped. “It has nothing to do with the thread count. It has to do with the fiber and if you have the right fiber, you don't want to overpack it with yarns. You want it to have exactly the right feeling.” The cotton percale, Fugazza noted, can stand up to industrial laundry machines while remaining crisp and smooth. The sheets do not require ironing and dry 50 percent faster than regular percale sheets, making it a greener option for hotels, he added.