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Showing optimism

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, October 21, 2002

Another market's come and gone, and this one was quite a bit different from those in the past.

Import mania seemed to be the theme throughout the week. And buyers and sellers still are wrestling with the benefits and challenges arising from offshore sourcing. What still hasn't evolved is how to produce a stable environment in terms of quality, delivery and pricing. The West Coast port situation has brought these factors even more in focus.

On specific issues, the thread count controversy still hasn't ebbed as new counts were introduced and challenges made as to their veracity. Adding to the confusion is the growing number of microfiber offerings, with not all able to back up their assertions as to the claims.

Looking at the product introductions, it definitely was a lighter and brighter market in terms of color, pattern and fabric. The orange family that was the fashion statement almost two years ago in Europe finally has made its way to this country. Early birds that tried the color at retail are reporting good sales trends.

The orange influence also spread to persimmon, sienna, and copper.

Fresh florals — light, bright and on open grounds — also were newsmakers in a number of upscale showrooms — and most were prints. While not a full-blown renaissance, there were definitely more prints than in the recent past.

The impact of imports was clearly seen in the proliferation of detail work — from piecing to appliqués, embroideries and elaborate beadings and trims.

Technology, as seen in such things as laser cutting, also added another new dimension to what can be done across all home textiles product lines.

All in all, despite the economy, the world tensions and the industry-specific problems, there was little evidence of gloom and doom.

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