The Sunbrella® brand of performance fabrics is celebrating its 50th anniversary, commemorating the brand’s progress from a replacement for cotton awning fabrics in 1961 into a global brand. Sunbrella fabrics originated in the late 1950s. Glen Raven, which had been making cotton awning fabrics since the 1890s, needed a way to improve its product and differentiate itself in a commodity market. Monsanto had created a high-performance synthetic fiber and was eager to find a commercial application.
Glen Raven gave the fiber a try and made sure that the product gained adoption by awning fabricators and consumers. The new fabrics came with a five-year warranty and were promoted directly to consumers.
Over the past half century, performance and brand promotion have led the Sunbrella brand into lead positions in multiple market segments, including marine, casual and outdoor furniture, residential interiors, commercial contract and convertible car tops.
Milestones in the Sunbrella brand history include the 1994 construction of a million-square-foot manufacturing center in Anderson, S.C., acquisition of French-based Dickson SA in 1998 and the opening of a business center in China in 2006.
The 50th anniversary celebration will include special events at marine, furniture and industrial trade shows, and consumer and trade advertising campaigns throughout 2011. A Sunbrella brand history book and video are also planned.