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Your Choice: Widget, Gizmo – or Design

It's Showtime again. And this one marks the second in the new timing sequence that has many in a dither, others feeling quite comfortable.

The whole change of timing, planned to accommodate the radical change in sourcing from this country to the Asian marketplace, still hasn't settled into what used to be called a normal pace. Buyers and sellers are still doing the getting-to-know-you market shuffle.

More jarring than the change in timing, which always causes discomfort of some sort, is the way that designing, sourcing and production are being done.

In the past several Showtimes, it seemed that there was more of the same from one showroom to the next. Almost like an epidemic of “this is what they had, how can you make it like it” mentality. And of course, the tag line is always — “but cheaper.”

The new mood has morphed into another operating philosophy. Some customers or potential customers are being rebuffed at certain showrooms because of business practices that one side or the other deem unworthy of continuing.

From a timing perspective, lots of the home textiles suppliers are trying to figure out how to get the good stuff they see this week into their lines for the early August market in New York.

Jobbers look and buy year round, as do the fabric retailers — and each is an important buying segment for Showtime. So those in these ranks should be okay with the timing. And since a formal market marks but the beginning of a cycle, each of these distribution channels is on the lookout year-round.

More to the point of this dilemma is that Showtime is product, product, product.

Talking with some of the design leaders and looking at what they are offering, there should be newness aplenty. But how it translates to the consumer market is the major challenge. How much of the newness will be aborted in terms of diluting design or worse — knockoffs — is the critical issue.

With the world of home textiles in the doldrums both from a business and a fashion perspective, it's time for a fresh approach to building product. If this doesn't happen soon, home textiles departments will shrink as management looks to the newest widget or gizmo to put in its place. Let's hope the shoppers at Showtime realize that not just success — but true survival — may be in their hands.

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