A Post-Market Sigh of Relief

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff, September 28, 2009

Most folks in this business seem to be heaving a sigh of relief that the market proved as positive as everyone hoped. No, it wasn't boom times. But yes, the shelves had to be refilled and many retailers realized that same old-same old wasn't going to work.

What seemed to be in the forefront of "newness" for the market included:

Pleating and pintucking — fresh and crisp, and not just on accessory items but on window coverings and bedding.Color blocking. Hardly a new apparel fashion statement, but one long absent from this business and welcome as part of the move to color across the board. Bold graphics also are key. Talking about color — high energy colors have taken the play from the neutrals and pale pastels. These colors are not bashful, but also not overpowering.Fabrics like pique, seersucker and gingham, again back after a hiatus of eons, to give an uplift to the recent standard bearers of this business.Engineered or panel designs, mostly printed, and created for each size, that give a lift to the constant repeat design syndrome that has prevailed for nearly a decade.Free-standing decorative pillows derived from the bedding introductions but hardly "matchy-matchy" in looks and with an appeal that can travel throughout the home as a significant decorating element.It started a couple of markets back with beach and back-to-school, but giftables or specially-packaged products are offering "pick me up, take me home" appeal for store shelves.Embroidery in new and original ways was featured on categories throughout the business.Back-to-school is now a major business. And the more inventive approaches move the category up to the "first home/apartment" for the early 20-somethings.And despite what the naysayers insist, prints are again a major design force.

To those surprising number of you who phoned, faxed or stopped me in the street with your guess as to the retail honchos I referenced in a recent column who "fingered" or "figured" the goods — no one got it right, probably because most of you weren't in the business at the time.

But some of your guesses have given me food for thought for columns hence.

The "finger" retailer was Ralph Lazarus, the legendary head of the then Federated Department Stores; the "figure" retailer was B. Earl Puckett, then head of Allied Stores.

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