On the Cusp of a Credibility Gap

Carole Sloan, August 21, 2006

Time for yet another market week post-mortem. And actually, despite the fears and tremblings of some naysayers, it was a very lively market.

There still were a few folks who were in despair over the August — and upcoming — February time frame. And interestingly, they were on the supplier side, rather than the retailer side of the fence. Nary a retailer I spoke with had an adverse opinion about the new dates. There's always some critical market going on at a “bad” time.

But more importantly, there were a number of topics that came to the fore during the week.

It looks like we're on the cusp of a new credibility challenge that will make thread counts seem like child's play.

The new challenge? Organic products for the home, and their next of kin: eco-friendly textiles.

More than once during market week were folks identifying so-called organic stuff and at the same time admitting that the dyes and finishing processes were not organic, thus negating the use of “organic” cotton.

Then there's the whole category of eco-friendly stuff —ranging from recycled soda bottles (a process that has been around for decades), trees and other stuff that grows and can be renewed, and just some figments of peoples' imaginations that make some plausible argument for helping the environment.

What seems to be happening is that the major retail players are becoming more and more involved in the testing and marketing of this stuff.

As consumer watchdog groups become more aggressive in identifying the good and the bad, these major retailers will be the lightning rods for consumer action if the stuff isn't as promoted.

Interestingly, as strong a conversation point as the organic scenario is, there is yet another growing area: performance fibers and fabrics with benefits for almost everything from built-in warmth and cold, to skin-softening, to catering to the perceived frailties of aging baby boomers who are increasingly “health-addicted.”

The plethora of hypo-stuff now invading the home textiles world should be interesting to watch as a marketing exercise.

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