Dec Fabric Market Goes Green
By Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, 12/3/2007 12:00:00 AM
It may be a reflection of upcoming holiday cheer, but many of the fabric folks I've talked with prior to this week's Showtime appear to be more upbeat than they have been throughout the year.
While admitting that the business climate in almost all areas except hospitality has been iffy at best, these fabric execs were talking more about fashion in fabrics and eco-friendly makes as more than just a superficial talking point.
After several seasons of playing it safe, it appears that the decorative fabric companies are breaking away from the same-old, same-old. Previews have definitely shown a broader color offering as well as a more contemporary flavor, even in classic designs.
But it is the influence of the eco trend that may have the most impact on the decorative fabrics business. Last Showtime there was a burst of introductions by a small but significant array of fabric suppliers — each differing in approach as well as understanding of the complexities of being eco-friendly.
And these companies also report a diverse range of responses to their efforts, from both manufacturers and retailers. For many customers, price is still a sticking point. But perhaps the greatest example of not getting it came from a fabled retailer who loved the fabric supplier's completely organic cotton collection — but would buy it only with a chemical stain-repellent finish.
This week will see significantly more eco-friendly products brought to the marketplace. Some will reflect their producers' understanding of the concept with pure eco ingredients; others will try to call hybrid products eco-friendly with a mix of eco ingredients and other fibers and finishes.
And equally important will be the growing number of companies looking behind the fabrics to the way they are produced and how they can improve the environment with better technology throughout production.
Despite the so-called cachet of being environmentally "with it," that old devil price still plays a stellar role. Some of the eco-friendly fabric players are trying to take some of the price skittishness out of the equation by offering different levels of eco, and identifying each on a price-range basis. At least it is a start.
And it's a trend that the rest of the marketplace needs to latch on to.
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