Color is nothing to fear

Carole Sloan, March 15, 2004

It seems that once again the marketplace has underestimated the consumer.

Not that we are talking about high taste levels or such, but more about what Ms. Jones in Peoria will accept for her home in terms of color other than basic beige and off-white.

What we're seeing this year is the home furnishings market playing catch-up with consumers. They've bought into color in their clothing, and they are responding to the few offerings on the home market — especially in the tabletop and accessories arenas.

We've long seen the European home shows vibrating with bold color — yes, orange, as well as yellow, purples, reds and on and on. Basic beige and white seem relegated to the nosebleed price points where color is almost illegal. But even in these areas, color is sneaking in.

Looking at the decorative fabrics lines launched at Showtime in January, there clearly was a move to bolder and brasher color — a far cry from the sea of beige and brown that had dominated that part of the home furnishings textiles market.

And for the skeptics who naysayed orange when it showed up as a fashion color in Europe four years ago, guess what? There was lots of orange, and it's been selling — albeit somewhat more subdued than its European cousins, but orange nonetheless.

With a brief smattering of line previews under our belts for the market just a few weeks away, color definitely is out and about. And the home textiles folks are being anything but bashful about their use of color.

And what makes the color statements even more interesting are the combinations — not just a single color with a tempering neutral, but mixes of brash colors that work together.

For those that need more convincing, we've tapped into two major forecast reports in this issue: one dealing just with a home color forecast, the other both apparel and home. It's amazing to see how apparel and home are dovetailing more and more in terms of not just color but design and fabric construction.

If you're trying to catch Ms. Jones' eye, wherever she might be, you should be able to do it with color. Otherwise you'll be doing it with midnight madness sales and coupons, coupons, coupons.

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