Re-Invent to Survive
By Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, 1/26/2009 12:00:00 AM
What most everyone has anticipated for the early part of this year apparently has happened — and most likely will continue to happen at home furnishings show after home furnishings show throughout this year.
And that happening is a measurable, often substantial decline in attendance at markets. Already it has happened at the regional markets in Dallas and Atlanta. It also occurred earlier this month at the giant Heimtextil decorative fabric, home textiles, rug and wall coverings show in Frankfurt, Germany.
But the interesting thing is that exhibitors went to each of these shows anticipating the attendance decline. And in many cases they were pleasantly surprised at the outcome of their activities.
It probably could best be summed up by one exhibitor at the Atlanta show who said she approached the show as "a reinvention" with product to attract a younger audience, but also targeted the company's more mature customer base. And the reinvention worked — not just for the younger base but also for the existing customer base.
Others in various segments of the fabric, furnishings and furniture worlds are looking to open new paths of distribution with different techniques than previously used in conventional supplier-to-retailer relationships. "Direct-to-consumer" is a phrase heard more frequently among suppliers in many home products segments, and "designer" is a segment that is being explored — albeit with some confusion at the supplier level.
We're seeing a growing trend toward cut yardage for fabrics, to enable retailers to offer more diversity in their assortment. And while there were few major trends emerging from Heimtextil, attention to details like hem trims, pintucking, pleating and the like were significant, as were the intriguing applications of ruching, crinkle effects and laser/burnout techniques for sheer fabrics. These developments may appear to be less than dramatic, but they were highly noticeable.
The kind of environment we're in now should encourage new ways at looking at conventional approaches. It's called survival. And that leads to new growth.
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