The history of JB Martin starts all the way back in the early 1800s in Lyon, France. In 1832, Jean Baptiste Martin is credited with inventing the face-to-face double weaving loom for the production of velvet. This invention increased daily velvet production from 30 inches per loom to 165 inches. The success of the young company was fueled by Jean Baptiste Martin’s new invention and for decades the company thrived, producing plush (high pile velvet) for top hats, organza, black dyed silks for taffetas, moirés and ribbons. The superb quality of the material earned numerous awards, including the gold medal at the 1876 World’s Fair Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, as well as an invitation to set up shop in America.
Seeking new markets, the company made the move in 1894 to Norwich, Connecticut and soon JB Martin velvet started showing up on the heads of the most fashionable Americans. In 1954, the company opened a plant in Leesville, South Carolina which has become the company’s main production facility.
Sample collections of JB Martin velvet lines have been donated to the Design Lab of the Fashion Institute of Technology on 27th Street in Manhattan, New York where they are displayed in a specially designed JB Martin Velvet Room.
It’s hard to say if Jean Baptiste Martin would be surprised by the changes his company has seen throughout the years, but he would certainly be flattered to know that, well over a century and a half later, his name is still associated with innovation, expertise and quality.