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Issues Emerge from the Market

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, August 20, 2007

Time for yet another market post-mortem. And actually, despite the fears and trembling of some naysayers, it was a very lively market.

There were still a few folks who were in despair over the August — and upcoming — February timeframe. And interestingly, they were on the supplier side, rather than the retailer side of the fence. Nary a retailer I spoke with had an adverse opinion about the new dates. There's always some critical market going on at a "bad" time.

But more importantly, there were a number of topics that came to the fore during the week.

It looks like we're on the cusp of a new credibility challenge that will make thread counts seem like child's play.

The new challenge? Organic products for the home, and their next of kin — eco-friendly textiles.

More than once during market folks were identifying so-called organic stuff and at the same time admitting that the dyes and finishing processes were not organic, thus negating the use of "organic" cotton.

Then there's the whole category of eco-friendly ingredients — ranging from recycled soda bottles (a process that has been around for decades), trees and other stuff that grows and can be renewed, as well as just some figments of peoples' imaginations that make some plausible argument for helping the environment.

What seems to be happening is that the major retail players are becoming more and more involved in the testing and marketing of this kind of product.

As consumer watchdog groups become more aggressive in identifying the good and the bad, major retailers will become the lightning rod for consumer action if the product isn't as promoted.

Interestingly, as strong a conversation point as the organic scenario is, there is another growing area — performance fibers and fabrics with benefits for almost everything from built-in warmth and cold, to catering to the aging baby boomers who are increasingly health addicted.

The plethora of hypo-stuff now invading the home textiles world should be interesting to watch as a marketing exercise.

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