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Smoke and Mirrors

It's once again time to look at some of the more recent claims by the home furnishings world as a whole, as well as the textiles world in particular.

What brought this to mind was not only the upcoming home textiles gathering here in New York, but some recent opinions by the FTC and some smoldering issues that have not been resolved one way or another about performance assertions or ecological benefits.

The catalyst for this was a recent promotion by one of the industry's Top 10 retailers. Price was not even an issue in this promotion. Instead it was the claim by the retailer that its towel was "reducing drying time by up to 33% over other cotton towels."

It brought to mind a series of claims that have pocked this business since the birth of "microfiber," aka polyester. Early on this was nomenclature embraced by the apparel business and designed to suggest a super new fiber with minimal or no identification or the real fiber. Later rather than sooner, polyester began to be used well away from the microfiber reference.

Fast forward to the eco-movement, and the home textiles industry was one of the leading players with products that were claimed to be of natural and organic fibers, vegetable dyes and the like, and a key player Egyptian cotton.

Polite questioning throughout the market at that point produced information that perhaps, yes, there were vegetable dyes in some colorations, but as for the bold reds and deep browns and blues ... well, that's a different issue.

As for the organic cotton content, there isn't enough production of organic cotton to accommodate the established needs of apparel pioneers as well as the newbies in the home textiles world — nor the avowed goals of that small retail player, Walmart.

Moving on we were overwhelmed by the amount of Egyptian cotton that was being claimed as all or large part of sheets and towels. Just in home textiles, the calculations were that the Nile would have to be at least a third longer than it is.

Then we entered the world of eco and eco-friendly — and that's when bamboo rose to its prominence with claims that it was renewable, eco-friendly to process and more. Recent reports that have not been fully verified claim the contrary — or at least a significant modification.

Now, in the home textiles world, we're in the era of the quick dry towel and the blackout window covering. The challenges are coming in at a fast rate.

Should we not be thinking more of a different way to stimulate sales?

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