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Jennifer Marks

The big bang

If there's a theme that's emerging to describe the upcoming New York Home Textiles Market, it can be encapsulated in one word: explosion.

One hates to raise the subject of Pillowtex again, but the aftershock of the mill's implosion is reverberating out across the industry. It's becoming clear that players of every size serving every channel are seizing the opportunity to position themselves as one-stop shops.

Look at Keeco, which not so long ago was pretty much just a quilt sourcer. It has quadrupled the amount of product it will be offering and has moved into licensed fashion bedding, window treatments and decorative pillows.

Also carrying the "we're not just quilts anymore" banner is PHI, which has been moving into classification businesses such as window panels, dec pillows and hard giftware to position itself as more of a total home resource.

Niche players are pushing their boundaries as well. Kitchen & table supplier Barth & Dreyfuss is blowing out the dec pillow category. Area rug titan Shaw Rugs plans to add other home categories to its portfolio to build out its business. Down Lite will extend its reach with Frank Lloyd Wright fashion bedding and sheets.

From leading suppliers like Croscill Home — which is launching a broad "fashion basics" bedding line — to luxury specialists such as Scala International —which this market adds towels, Italian sheets, coverlets, blankets and infant bedding to its stable — vendors of all stripes are shaking things up.

And then there's Springs Industries. Having swallowed big servings of the rug, window, bedding and blanket businesses through acquisitions over the past couple of years, it already offers a massive amount of product. This market, it can be counted on to offer even more.

Just how full is Springs' plate? Consider the report about solid color introductions that begins on page 1 of this issue. The explanation of Springs' new offerings consumes more than 50 percent of the story — and that's just to cover Springs' basic sheet and towel businesses.

Most suppliers insist these expansions were in the works long before Pillowtex threw in the towel in last month, and that's true. But the fact that Pillowtex was lingering on the block and getting no closer to a white knight was apparent months ago. If rival suppliers couldn't definitively count on Pillowtex to disappear by market time, they could certainly sense wounded prey when they saw it. Making the leap to take a bite out of its hide wasn't all that risky a bet.

Now all the industry needs are some open-minded retailers with open-to-buy.

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