San Francisco-based Revival Rugs was born in 2017 when two couples — one in Oakland and the other in Turkey — agreed that the process of finding and buying a vintage rug desperately needed their help.
The couples had met in Korea, while two of Revival’s founders were working in corporate strategy for Samsung. “When my wife, Amber, and I moved back to the states, we started looking for a rug that was both affordable and unique,” explains CEO Ben Hyman. “Some prices ran $5,000 to $20,000 for a rug. More reasonable sellers didn’t have the customer service. We thought there was room to offer a special product and a good customer experience at an accessible price point.”
In a couple of years, Revival Rugs has paved a smooth, uncharted road to purchasing one-of-a-kind Turkish floor coverings at a reasonable cost. With the handmade vintage rug market in hand, they spun their newfound expertise into a related venture, rolling out an exclusive new collection with Old World authenticity. Artisans in several countries employ time-honored techniques and materials to craft them.
Revival Rugs made a name for themselves by sourcing vintage rugs affordably.
A finite supply of vintage inventory and the rise of machine-made rugs add to Revival’s driving reason behind the expansion: keeping quality and customs alive and in use. As they salvage and clean the vintage rugs for eager consumers, they collect wisdom about processes that are disappearing in hopes of creating a new avenue for their survival.
“Many of our vintage rugs were woven by women’s collectives from 1950 through 1970, when women of the village were getting together and handweaving the rugs. Now with Turkey urbanizing, practices like this are dying off,” Hyman explains. “There is this beautiful rug tradition that does not exist in the way it used to. It’s really like art. Many of the rugs have meaning; they were made for a wedding, a birth, or other life event. Some people still cherish them, but many want to get rid of them. A 25-year-old living in a city, for example, sees them as their grandmother’s style. They want to go to IKEA and buy a new rug for their apartment in Istanbul.”
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Revival’s Panel Collection, which marks their first foray into new carpets, takes design cues from nomadic cultures, in which weavers moved from place to place and utilized smaller looms. Their rugs were comprised of a series of woven strips they sewed together. “All the wool is hand-spun, which is a bit different than most rugs on the market today” Hyman says. “Most yarn is machine-made. For the Panel rugs, someone is literally spinning the wool and making the yarn, so there is more texture in the wool and imperfections, which we think are perfect. It’s a really human process.”
They have recently channeled Old World ways into their first line of artisan-made rugs, the Panel Collection
Operations in Turkey have led to looms in India and, soon, an office in Morocco. Hyman says being at the grassroots level allows the company to build relationships and tell suppliers’ stories while collaborating with artisans on site-specific specializations.
“By creating the whole supply chain, we offer a price point unheard of in the market,” Hyman says. “Our prices are often cheaper than knockoffs, yet people can have the real thing.”
Revival’s vintage rugs are 50-years-old on average, but range from 20 to 100 years old. Overdyed, distressed, antique tea-washed, and kilim complement original vintage.
“We might have the largest collection in the U.S.,” Hyman says of the 3,000 vintage rugs available at revivalrugs.com. “We view ourselves as a rug company, not a vintage rug company. But vintage will always be part of our business.”