Private Stars and Absent Brands
By Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, 4/21/2008 12:00:00 AM
With the High Point Market now behind us, the major markets involving home textiles are close to the end of their first half, and there are some things that have emerged that could influence what will happen in the balance of the year.
During this same period, we have witnessed and heard from an array of retailers about how they view this marketplace. And in many instances, it is not very positive.
So here we are with two very divergent views.
On one hand, there was an unexpected positive glow from many of the exhibitors at the High Point Market, quite in contrast to expectations that had been radically lowered prior to the event earlier this month. Contrary to reports about the macro-economic impact on the luxury market, supplier after supplier talked about high-end retailers, interior designers, and even new store opportunities opening up across the country.
There were surprisingly few glum faces in the home textiles world at High Point. And they were not just "happy faces" painted on for effect. A single customer could produce a bonanza both near- and long-term for any given company. It's not a market dependent on the whims of a major retailer demanding 65% markup, opening-order discounts and all the other goodies that are in the package of being able to sell a "star" retailer.
On the other side of the home textiles world we are seeing more and more of the "stars" avoiding what had been legendary brands in this business in favor of their own proprietary brands developed mostly in-house. It's certainly true that the custodians of many of these brands abdicated their responsibilities to maintain and nourish them with design and marketing programs over the decades to the point that today's consumers probably haven't a clue what the brand stands for.
So the issue now is: How will this proliferating mass of retail house brands fare — and who will nurture and support them over time?
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