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Charlie, this one's for you

Heath E. Combs, Jennifer Negley -- Home Textiles Today, October 29, 2001

When your roster of tasks includes writing 50 opinion pieces each year, you quickly learn to keep your antennae up. You also learn to pester people for their ideas whenever, wherever and however you can.

Today's column was not so much inspired by as requested by Charlie Chinni, JCPenney's senior vp of home and fine jewelry. It was during a conversation at the recently concluded New York Home Textiles market that Charlie suggested what he'd like to see on this page.

What would be useful, he said, is a post-Sept. 11 list identifying trends across a spectrum of consumer behavior.

So, Charlie, after a few days of due consideration and several phone calls to friends and relatives around the country, here's what I've come up with:

Minimalism begins to seem "too cold." It gets replaced by simplicity, characterized by warm, earthy tones.

Luxury becomes less fussy. Quality prevails over ornamentation.

Color, color, color — for vibrancy, light and emotional uplift.

Hello velvet! Hello tweed!

The return to patriotism will manifest itself not only in red, white and blue motifs but also in gestures. The cover of the new Pottery Barn Kids catalog carries a toll-free number for The September 11th Fund.

Americans become more open-minded and interested in understanding other cultures. Foreign-made products that carry labels giving a bit of history about a region where they are made could actually be seen as providing extra value.

As outside animosity toward the United States grows, the country will herald the melting pot aspect of American culture.

Status labels and excessive consumption fall out of vogue.

Good manners and civility make a comeback.

Reality TV bites the dust.

Scandal as a media-fueled spectator sport falls by the wayside.

Catastrophe movies fade away, replaced by heroism — but heroism with heart. More Gary Cooper than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Parents clamp down on violent video games.

Education becomes an even greater family focal point.

Making a positive impact in the local community becomes more meaningful.

Individuals will call and e-mail friends and relatives more frequently.

Family reunions will take place more frequently.

Crafts and DIY projects will increase in popularity, providing distraction, a sense of creativity and the human touch.

People will want to feel that their job and their role within an organization actually makes some sort of difference.

Smaller houses become fashionable again as families seek coziness and more togetherness.

Agree? Disagree? Contrary points of view are always welcome. And you'll have plenty of time to gather your thoughts since this space will be filled by a calendar next week.

I will be on my honeymoon when the Nov. 5 issue goes to press, but I will be back in the office on the 5th, and look forward to hearing any prognostications.

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