China rules high end and mass market

Carole Sloan, January 19, 2004

Well, things have come to an interesting point.

At Heimtextil in Frankfurt last week, one seasoned observer referred to the Chinese fabric exhibitors as "the high end" and the "mass market," with their locations specifically separated — the former in Hall 6.3, the latter in Hall 10.

Now this delineation probably isn't something that the American fabric producers have yet identified. But in truth, there is a sort of strata identification within that group, ironic as it may seem.

And all this change has happened in just a few short years. It actually was in 2000 when all the Chinese fabric producers were housed together just in Hall 9.3.

And at Heimtextil, China continued to be the 800-pound gorilla, stirring the marketplace with prices that seemed to have no bottom.

But in terms of fabrics in particular — rather than manufactured product — there seemed to be a sense of concern about the quality/price equation, not just with Chinese goods which are of primary interest, but also with a host of other countries.

Moving to other points of interest at Heimtextil, once again sheers — from the highest end to mainstream curtains — offered a high level of creativity with technological advancements enhancing the aesthetics.

The high end — especially in fabrics, but also in manufactured product — appeared to pull strong buyer responses.

It appeared to be a continuation of the strength of the luxury segment across the entire breadth of consumer products.

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