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A Tale of Two Markets

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, November 7, 2005

LOOKING OVER the home textiles landscape in recent weeks, there were clearly major differences in the markets that offered these products.

In New York, it definitely was an offshore-based supplier contingent providing bed, bath, window and table linens to the mainstream retailers. The upper-end or luxury suppliers still are holding to their domestic or mostly European sourcing, though many American companies anticipate this will change.

And the conversation in New York definitely is not about special orders or small quantities. Anything less than a container doesn't enter into most deals.

And while there was some movement toward individuality in line offerings, there still was overpowering look-alike sameness to many of the introductions.

The influence of the major retailers — many of whom use the same sources for inspiration, and challenge a number of suppliers to come up with their versions of X look — is prevalent.

Move to High Point, and the International Home Furnishings Market, and there is a definite difference from showroom to showroom in the home textiles world. A world, incidentally, that is assuming a greater role in the mix of not just specialty stores (as we once knew them) but also furniture retailers that are looking to build add-on business.

Many of the metal bed suppliers have long had tie-in programs with bed coverings companies, and many are in the upper-end of the market.

In more than one major furniture showroom, tie-in merchandise with licensed programs was more and more the rule as bed coverings, throws and other home lines were featured along with the furniture.

And where there was no licensed product program, a growing number of furniture suppliers (they too can no longer be strictly called manufacturers) were showing bed coverings designed to work with their wood furniture for the bedroom. Aesthetically, some of these are winners, others have a way to go in fashion and quality. It's not all beer and Skittles, as these folks will find out.

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