The story of Replin by Hainsworth

Feb 15 2023, 9 21 am

Updated Jun 29 2023, 4 49 pm

How a wartime pipe cleaner shortage led to the invention of our industry-leading transport fabrics.

From Vienna, to Glasgow, to the world

Replin by Hainsworth’s story began over 75 years ago, when a Jewish-Hungarian inventor arrived in Scotland. Dr Maurus Banyai had been the owner of a manufacturing business in Vienna, set up after he invented a loom that machine-wove carpets. In 1938 he was forced to flee the Nazi regime in Austria, and eventually settled in Scotland.

Dr Maurus Banyai

While adjusting to life in a new country, Dr Banyai continued to plan for his future and work on plans to achieve his long-held dream – to invent a Jacquard loom that could replicate the weave of the famous Gobelin tapestries.

Gobelin is a form of fine tapestry dating back to the 16th century, named after the Gobelin family of French cloth dyers. Dr Banyai was a great admirer of Gobelin cloth, which was woven for use in the court of Louis XIV. The Gobelin factory in Paris is still operational to this day.

It wasn’t until 1940, the height of World War 2, that Dr Banyai was commissioned to help solve the UK’s shortage of pipe cleaners and was finally able to realise his vision. While drawing up plans for a machine that could weave together the strands of fibre that make up pipe-cleaners, eliminating the time-consuming process of weaving them by hand, he discovered that a similar mechanism could achieve the intricate weave of the Gobelin tapestries he so revered.

Dr Banyai's plans for his new Jacquard loom

In 1945, Dr Banyai established the company that would come to be known as British Replin – the name ‘Replin’ being a portmanteau of the word for the ‘repp’ style of weave and ‘Gobelin’. British Replin’s robust yet attractive machine-woven woollen fabrics were soon sold for use on Cunard Liners, in the terminals of the newly-opened Heathrow Airport, and the seating in the UK Houses of Parliament.

Dr Banyai passed away in 1949, but over the latter half of the 20th century the company he established grew to become a leading provider of transport textiles. Founded with an inherent understanding of the technical properties of textile fibres and with a strong design sensibility, Replin Fabrics (having dropped ‘British’ from its name as the business grew) was renowned for creating bespoke interior fabrics for some of the most iconic aviation and rail brands in history, from British Airways to the Orient Express.

British Replin advert from 1962

Introducing Replin by Hainsworth

In 2015 Replin Fabrics was acquired by esteemed manufacturers of premium woollen cloth AW Hainsworth, and the company Replin by Hainsworth was born. The name Hainsworth has been at the forefront of textile innovation since 1783, with its fabrics woven into the history of markets as diverse as fashion, the military, interiors and leisure. With a strong foothold in the worlds of both interior design and flame-resistant protective textiles, the manufacture of durable luxury fabrics for transport interiors was the natural next step in Hainsworth’s evolution.

Now, Replin by Hainsworth continues to work at the intersection of technical excellence and fine bespoke design, building on the original work of Dr Banyai and exploring new ways to push the boundaries of textile manufacturing.

Our heritage can be found in the continued use of the original Replin weave, as seen in our WNN and WCC fabrics for vertical surfaces and air attendant seating respectively. The tight weave structure of these fabrics is the same as that manufactured by Dr Banyai in the 1940s, but with the composition updated to include modern flame-resistant fibres. The resulting fabrics have the timeless appearance and soft feel of classic Replin textiles alongside excellent technical performance that surpasses modern safety requirements, and are regarded as the industry standard for transport interiors.

A piece of original British Replin weave
A selection of modern WNN fabrics

Our journey began with one man’s escape from persecution and led to us designing fabrics for the cabins and carriages of the most esteemed travel brands in the world. At Replin by Hainsworth we aim to continue the pioneering work of Dr Banyai for another 75 years and beyond.