The Heat and Other Hot Topics
August 20, 2007-- Home Textiles Today,
New York just wrapped two weeks of back-to-back markets — the showroom-oriented event that focuses mainly on volume accounts and the Gift Fair-anchored market week at the Javits and showroom buildings that primarily addresses the better end of the market.
During showroom market, the timing of market dates was the biggest gripe I heard all week and the subject that was most ubiquitously raised by the people I visited. The August timing is not to the liking of many who addressed the topic.
Of course, when markets were held in April and October there was a whole lot of complaining that the set-up was unworkable given the nature of global supply lines. Maybe there is no such thing as a perfect market date.
Another hot topic: Price increases, with some U.S. suppliers feeling that they're inevitable since India and China are both smarting from exchange rates.
But as one vendor pointed out, there is an entire generation of buyers that has never experienced a price increase, has no idea increases used to occur periodically in the normal course of business, and has been trained that pricing only moves in one direction: down.
The following week, walking the At Home section at the Javits Center, I was surprised by the amount of organic and eco-friendly product targeting the luxury market.
I was not surprised, however, by the concern several suppliers of those goods expressed about the fate of such products — namely, they that will be dumbed down to the point of meaninglessness. The sorry denouement of high-thread count sheet distinctions, low-twist towel pricing and the stature of Egyptian cotton were cited repeatedly.
Finally, the Las Vegas Market proved a subject of conversation and speculation. Some of the specialist-targeted vendors are already there; almost nobody from the chain-store vendor community has followed suit.
But Vegas has lately stepped up its outreach to the industry's largest suppliers. A few suppliers I spoke with expressed sticker shock over what they see as "New York prices" for square footage, although I know more than one West Coast supplier who'd gladly start Living la Vida Vegas.
Personally, I think the gravitational pull of Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy's, Linens n ' Things and TJX's East Coast headquarters combined with the New York design offices of Kohl's, Wal-Mart, Sears and Kmart weighs against wholesale relocation anytime soon.
But will we start to see more home textiles suppliers dip a toe in the water via the Vegas temporaries space over the next couple of years? I'd wager on that one.
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