The Thread

Jennifer Marks
Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Marks shares news and views from around the home textiles marketplace.
  • Tick-Tock – It’s market time

    The clock is winding down on sharing your new product news for our big Market Week issue. Just a gentle reminder that the deadline for submitting photos for the New York Home Fashions Market new product gallery – which will be distributed in the showroom buildings during market – is a week from today: Monday, Feb. 27. Send your photos to: You may submit high resolution photos at the bottom of the form. Image size must be at least 4 inches wide at 300 dpi. Be sure to include product information for each image. Images ... Read More
  • The State of Play

    Here’s what the future looks like for the home textiles industry. It’s faster, it’s more fragmented in the way it delivers products to consumers and it’s more sustainable. Digital textiles printing, the subject of our February cover story, doesn’t just have the potential to provide quickly produced, uniquely personalized products to the masses — it’s already doing it. Jo-Ann Fabric, Spoonflower and Zazzle are giving consumers a world of fabric design options, while companies like Springs Creative work the back-end fulfillment. And if you’re tired of hearing about e-commerce it’s probably time to ... Read More
  • It’s The Consumer

    Were you surprised last week when the National Retail Federation announced that holiday sales exceeded expectations? I sure was. Total November and December retail sales rose 4.0% to $658.3 billion, besting NRF’s forecast. Non-store sales jumped 12.6% to $122.9 billion, again higher than NRF’s forecast. Out in the stores it sure didn’t feel like it. But then again, take a look at the non-store growth. Trying to figure out what’s going on with U.S. shoppers was a common topic of conversation at Heimtextil last week. What do they want? Why aren ... Read More
  • Retail in Flux

    Last summer I got a call from a reporter working on Inc. magazine’s annual “Fastest Growing Companies in America report.” What, she wanted to know, could I tell her about Who? As it turned out, clocked in as the 4th fastest growing company in the country. The Indiana-based seller of bedding, bath, home and garden products generated a revenue spike of more than 26,000% in 2015, ending the year with $30.6 million in sales. The e-comm retailer will mark its eighth year in business in 2017. That’s emblematic of the state of ... Read More
  • Our Top Online Stories of 2016

    'Tis the time of the year for reflection, introspection and Top 10 lists. Some of our most-read stories for 2016 may surprise you. Others certainly won’t. The ranking is based on unique page views logged between Jan. 1 through today for news stories posted in 2016. In some cases, I’ve consolidated where follow-up stories on a single topic were also huge hit generators. Did you miss any of this news when it happened? HFPA's New York Home Fashions Market dates for 2016-2017 are here. On any given day, somebody somewhere is looking up the dates for New ... Read More
  • Where things stand

    The expression “merchant prince” doesn’t get used much anymore in the era of allocation software, nor does it get tossed around lightly. Allen Questrom certainly merits the title. He engineered JCPenney’s turnaround in the early aughts, repositioned Barney’s as a leading luxury specialty retail in the ’90s, and once helmed Neiman Marcus Group as well as the company now known as Macy’s Inc. back when it was Federated Department Stores. The man knows a thing or two about stores, especially department stores. Which is why his recent remarks to CNBC about what department stores need to ... Read More
  • Weather-Proofing

    It’s cold today in huge swaths of the U.S. – the first day for hats, scarves and gloves. Arriving right on cue ahead of the kick-off to the holiday season, it’s the kind of weather that should put people in the mood for shopping. But it wasn’t cold, or nearly cold enough, during the holiday 2015 shopping season. That left a lot of retailers sitting on a pile of unsold coats, jackets and other cold weather goods. They vowed in the aftermath they would not make the same mistake this year. Many of them put a name ... Read More
  • The Aggressors

    While a sense of caution seems to pervade some of the largest home textiles retailers, it’s worth noting several companies continue to move very aggressively — regardless of consumer uncertainty. Let’s start with the one that’s positioning itself to become the Amazon of the home furnishings world: Wayfair. As of Nov. 1, it has launched 21 initiatives involving new products, category expansions, new services and additional customer support operations. Those were just in the U.S. market. Its newly announced monthly installment financing option takes aim at consumers loathe to use credit (especially, Millennials) as well as, one ... Read More
  • 53 retailers saying ‘no’ to Thanksgiving Day hours

      Probably the most pressing question in retail: How much do stores matter in the online age? Weighing in on the side of “not as much as they used to,” at least 53 retailers will not be opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day this year. The tally, amassed by Forbes, ranges from TJX’s powerhouse off-price nameplates to upstairs department stores and includes several home furnishings stores. (Macy’s, bucking the trend, recently announced it will open even earlier on Thanksgiving this year.) How do the numbers stack up? Last year, among the 151 million people who shopped in stores over ... Read More
  • High on Holiday

    Home textiles suppliers exhibiting at last month’s New York Home Fashions Market generally agreed that business at retail is, at best, uneven. In a trend that been in place since the country emerged from the recession, whether sales are brisk or blasé varies by retailer. And within each individual retailer, the performance in home textiles rises or falls by category. Certainly, the roster of quarterly reports that arrived just prior to market reflected that. Of 25 leading retailers of home textiles who reported results in August and September, nine saw total sales slip. Those included Top 10 retailers Bed ... Read More
  • And now, a word about product

    Yes, everybody’s buzzing about the Welspun situation and what it will portend for the industry at large. The bankruptcy of South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Co. is sending container shipping rates up, ugh. And during market previews in recent days, several people were still awaiting goods that got held up because China’s government shut down factories to clear the air for the G20 meeting in the Hangzhou area, where the summit was held Sept. 4-5. It feels like global events are swamping the nuts and bolts of the business of making attractive home textiles. But enough about the ... Read More
  • The Agenda

    There will be plenty to talk about at the New York Home Fashions Market next week, and I’m not just talking about fallout from the Target/Welspun imbroglio. But let’s start with that. In case you’ve been completely cut off from all news about the home textiles industry since mid-August, Target severed its relationship with Welspun over an Egyptian cotton sheeting program that the retailer determined did not actually contain Egyptian cotton. Vendors are braced for heavier scrutiny from retailers at all levels — not just in the matter of Egyptian cotton claims but pretty much all claims ... Read More