What to Watch For
By Jennifer Marks -- Home Textiles Today, 2/10/2007 12:00:00 AM
Here we go with another first.
People have asked in recent weeks what we're hearing from the industry about holding a New York market week in February. Answer: aside from some worries about the weather, not much. Not that people are kicking up their heels about it, but I don't see anybody starting a movement to change dates, either.
Mercifully, it looks as though New York is going to be spared the sort of heavy precip that could keep flights from arriving. The forecast for the major ports of embarkation — Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Dallas, Boston, and Fayetteville — calls for mostly fair skies as well.
So, aside from grousing about the cold, everybody can get down to the business of business.
What of the business?
This is the year we'll find out whether all the lovely eco-friendly product we saw in showrooms last year gains any traction at retail. Obviously, Wal-Mart is putting the big push on all things eco — right down to the packaging. The question is how keen other retailers will be to follow suit.
At this early date, it's already clear that "eco-friendly" will trump the purely "organic." For one thing, there's not enough organic cotton in the world for Wal-Mart itself to make a complete conversion. For another, there's a lot more fudge factor built into eco-friendly.
Elsewhere in the realm of construction, we see signs of nanotech and/or performance fabrics and fibers becoming a bigger story in showrooms this year. Will retailers embrace them? If I were going to bet on one to get out front (warning: I have zero inside knowledge here), I'd put my money on Bed Bath & Beyond, which could use leadership in cool new fabrics to lock up the monied segment of the Millennial generation.
On another front, we are sure to see a passel of new licenses this week. (Some have already announced.) Most are wooing the same customer base: department stores and the specialty chains. Just once I'd like to see someone come up with a license that takes aim at the 8,311 Dollar General, 6,200 Family Dollar, and 700 Fred's stores.
From a merchandising standpoint, the big quandary we ought to see settled in coming months is how many pieces of bedroom product can get crammed into one bag. I think the record now stands at 28. I'm sure that number will be revised upward before the week is out.
Look for a recap in this space next time. Hopefully, we'll discover a hot new trend and some juicy new stories.
In the meantime, bundle up. 'Cause, baby, it's cold outside.
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