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Market dates crimp design timing

New York — Already battling demands for tighter delivery schedules and rapidly changing fashions, home textiles suppliers complained they're being forced to tear up their design timetables because of this year's scheduling of the February mini-market and an early spring market, which starts in March.

Freshly back from their New Year's holiday, suppliers late last week said they are struggling with the timing of the early market schedules; just four weeks lie between mini-market and the spring showing. The timing of both led many executives to question — as they occasionally do — why the markets were scheduled so tightly. Moreover, the fall Market comes earlier this year, too.

The short time frame has forced a degree of discomfort upon many suppliers, ranging from the sample-making to the timely approval of designs to showroom preparation.

But the most notable, yet unwelcome, change may lie in the companies' perception they must push their design schedules further out — something other suppliers argued was impractical, perhaps impossible, because of the trade's reliance on outside design influences.

"We're going to have to change our planning in terms of what we're presenting," said Kat Madcharo-Ridel, manager of product development for Park. B. Smith. "We should have product here more in advance. Our April line should be complete by now, and we should be ready to start working on September."

Aussino's president, Steve Lewis, said "We look out as far as we can, usually six months, and we should start looking for fall designs now; but unfortunately everyone is still working on placements for last fall so it slows down the process considerably."

Despite the good intentions, Rose Tree's vp of business development, Arthur Henderson, said he agreed theoretically, but suppliers should be the ones "to provide the story rather than throwing it out there according to people's expectations.

"There's no downtime anymore," he continued. "It's ongoing, continuous work all the time. So much of development now is done for the people who are requesting it."

Sam Hedaya, president of Sam Hedaya Linens, said "You have to work on [retailers'] timing or else you don't do business with them. What choice do you have?"

The timing of the markets has also prompted some to question whether there's sufficient differentiation between the two. February mini-market has been traditionally seen as a preview of spring market. But others said their lines for spring would either undergo complete transformations or be expanded greatly.

Maureen Granger, vp of merchandising for Haywin Textile Products, said mini-market was an adjustment to what was done for the previous fall. Spring for Haywin would see a "complete overhaul" and "lots of new product."

Sheridan Australia's showroom manager, Gwendolyn Wood, told HTT that the front part of Sheridan's showroom for mini-market would feature new beds but the spring market would see new beds throughout the entire showroom.

"The mini-market for us is just to present certain new products like accessories," said Vincent DeRosa, president of Whisper Soft Mills. "Those accessories will be fully coordinated for March and we'll show the thought processes behind the complete line."For Messina & Zucker, the question of the timing of the market was a non-issue. Clyde Zucker, the company's president, said the company shows patterns year-round. To him and vp of sales Joseph Maur, the markets should represent a time when buyers came to New York to keep in touch and scout the entire market rather than just visiting specific accounts and leaving within several days.

"We consider it a year-round market," Zucker said, "because our accounts change what they want all the time."

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