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A Game of Expectations

At least there were fewtire-kickers to get in the way of the definitely smaller number of retailers who attended the High Point Market last month. And those who came, did write orders — albeit not in huge quantities, and with very specific objectives in mind.

As a result, many exhibitors related that their results met expectations — but keep in mind, those expectations were set at a very low level. In fact, by the time market was over there were even a few exhibitors who said results exceeded the very low level they had projected.

In the furniture world, there were a number of strong, high impact introductions, more than had been anticipated. But more interestingly, there were some significant trends, especially in the upholstered furniture segment of the business, that look to be easily adopted by the home textiles world.

First was the emergence of ikats and susanis as key design statements. For many, these are not the most familiar of textile constructions and designs — but they are highly distinguishable. Whether interpreted in wovens or prints, these two looks made significant impact across the market. Both these design statements in their latest interpretations evoke almost a native American sensibility.

Also growing in importance in the fabric arena were velvets — true velvets rather than the faux constructions that have been so prevalent at the lower end of the market for years. Elegant without being overbearing or stuffily formal, velvets were interpreted on both contemporary and traditional frames.

It looks like eco-friendly, rather than organic per se, will become the prevalent force in how the textile world helps the environment. The eco-friendly term is part of the language for imported goods as well as domestic textile products.

But while there were interesting product developments and trends, lurking behind any trends for any product category or retail channel during the recent market was the ominous role of credit at all levels of the business — suppliers looking at customers, customers analyzing suppliers — and their suppliers. More about that in another column.

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