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Dare to Design

The summertime doldrums often provide a window for reflection – and this year is no exception.

This year's reflection in part centers on markets, the whys and wherefores of them.

Granted we have a new market angst, with the August debut of the New York Home Textiles Market, the expanded roster of home textiles exhibitors at the Las Vegas Market at the World Market Center and Las Vegas Convention Center just days before the New York market, and the New York Home Textiles Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion, concurrent with the New York International Gift Fair plus Atlanta — all within a hairsbreadth of each other.

And as this business increasingly shifts, especially in its sourcing aspects, as well as its retailing strategies, we're hearing more and more questions about the need for markets, the location of markets and the timing of same.

While August will undoubtedly be an interesting month in this regard, and one that will obviously allow many opinions to be voiced, it still will not determine a definitive answer to the age-old question concerning the viability of markets.

And that brings up the issue of who is determining what is brought to market in home textiles. The common answer seems to point to a non-design driven concept, sort of an “understandable by everyone” kind of look, typified by a nucleus of retail innovators and their acolytes – followed then by virtually everyone else in the home textiles universe.

As we have pointed out more than once, the redundancy issue is beyond belief. It almost makes one hope for the revival of the beads, sequins, macramé and embroidery that began this century's home textile design trends. Unfortunately, everyone jumped on that bandwagon, overdid it, and the best of the best evaporated with the marginal stuff.

Talking with someone about a recent designer acquisition by a major home textiles player, the remark was made that this person was a “print person” and this was not a print market. Who said so?

This is a diverse marketplace, and everyone should step back, look at themselves and see where there are opportunities for design and quality leadership as well as pricing defenses. One should never forget that those guys in Arkansas can cut you down on any item, at any price, at any time.

For anyone else, that's not a good survival policy.

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