In 1892, Austrian David Swarovski (1862- ) patented his crystal-cutting machine. In 1895, together with his brothers-in-law, Franz Weis and Armand Kosmann, they founded Swarovski in the Austrian Alps town of Wattens. In 1908, Swarovski's sons Wilhelm, Friedrich, and Alfred joined the company and began experimenting with the production of crystal and, by 1913, were producing their own crystal. Soon, their flawless, brilliantly cut jewelry stones were coveted everywhere and sold to Parisian fashion houses and jewelers. Coco Chanel was one of their first customers who enjoyed using crystal in brooches and embroidery. In the 1920s, "dancing dresses" embroidered with pearls and crystals were all the rage and, in 1931, Swarovski registered his invention for patent: a crystal-set fabric ribbon, which could be applied directly to textiles, shoes, and accessories. In 1975, Swarovski introduced its "Hot-Fix" technology, a molten glue with which crystal motifs could be applied to the most diverse materials with the use of heat and pressure—this technique was used on jeans, T-shirts, bathing suits, and hosiery.
   In 1977, Swarovski America introduced its own line of jewelry called Swarovski Jeweler's Collection. In 1986, it launched a moderately priced line called Savvy, formed a joint venture with People's Group of Toronto, and acquired 1,300 Zales stores. In 1989, the company commissioned a limited edition of avant-garde evening handbags, jewelry, and belts from the leading Italian architects and designers Alessandro Mendini, Ettore Scottsass, and Stefano Ricci. Another first for the company was the launch in 1992 of its Scent Stone, stones that could be filled with perfume. In 1992, it created Crystal Mesh, used by Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, and Louis Vuit-ton and, in 1999, launched Crystal Tattoos. Swarovski launched Crystal Fabric in 2003, fusing fabric and crystal into a second skin. It is a transparent Hotfix-foil, the surface of which is set with tiny full-cut and round crystals, which can be ironed, sewn, or glued onto materials such as lace, velvet, silk, jeans, leather, and synthetic fabrics. Swarovski is now a $2 billion, privately held company, selling crystal jewelry, figurines, chandeliers, picture frames, high-end optical equipment, and cutting tools for the construction industry. It operates 430 stores worldwide with 63 in the United States.

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

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