Silver linings

Carole Sloan, January 15, 2001

It was a Showtime probably unlike any of the others that have taken place since this event began in 1990.

Unfortunately, the big news centered around retail bankruptcies and those that loom on the horizon, rather than the beauty of the fabrics. Also, the fabric guys were concerned about the health of the manufacturing side. Overall, there was a high degree of apprehension exhibited among members of the fabric community.

Fabric producers are facing not just order cancellations but big hits in terms of fabrics that were essentially designed for specific retailers and are virtually worthless now that the retailer or manufacturer has gone Chapter 11.

And then there was talk of what company was next.

Those old bromides-cautious optimism and optimistically cautious-came back for another reprise, to no one's surprise. There are folks, especially at the upper end, who are feeling no pinch, and there are niche folks in the middle who are basically not affected.

But it's like the flu. If one kid in school gets it, everyone else seems doomed to pick it up. And it enveloped Showtime in a big, dark, gray cloud.

Despite this, it was an interesting show. There was a level of product introduction that moved the fabric business out of its recent rut.

There was an evident shift toward the significance of decorative jobbers, retailers and home textiles companies vs. the furniture manufacturers that were the core of earlier shows. It was especially evident in the upper end of the market, where silk was the fiber du jour and the constructions and designs of the fiber were spectacular.

One of the most dramatic trends was the emergence of overscaled, yes giant motifs, that offer challenges for end uses but when shown on a huge pillow or a dramatic window covering were absolutely spectacular.

And lest one thinks that prints have faded into the distant background, think again.

There were some perfectly wonderful, very special prints that will enhance the renaissance that definitely is here.

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