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Rug fashion trends range from texture to technology

Cecile Corral, Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, January 15, 2001

Softness. Texture. Simplicity. Advanced technology.

These are a few catch phrases being used in the sales pitches of many major rug manufacturers this year.

Ray Ehsani, vp of sales for Dallas-based Feizy Import and Export, said, "It's more about comfort, less about colors."

Maybe "it's texture that's really big this year," said Milliken Rugs and Broadloom business manager Jim Bridges.

Or, said Reza Momeni, a principal of New York-based Momeni, "it's the feel. It's got to be very soft."

But perhaps, said 828 International ceo John Shepherd, "the trend is to make something new. Companies that typically make machine-made rugs are now doing handmade pieces, and vice versa."

Rug manufacturers all have their own idea about what will be the fashion trends for 2001.

At Burlington House Floor Accents, the hope is that the advanced technology it used to produce its new Niya Collection-12-frame, 100 percent wool rugs-will give it the allure the company is looking for among retailers this year.

"We're the first to do this," said Paul Kershaw, vp and business manager of the Greensboro, NC-based manufacturer. "Most people make an eight-frame. But with our new 12-frame rugs, we are able to provide the consumer with a more detailed design."

And the new 12-frame also gives Burlington the opportunity to move into a higher price point, Kershaw noted.

Traditionally a maker of machine-made rugs, 828 International, based in Greenville, SC, is for the first time creating a line of hand-knotted rugs-a new addition to its collection that the company hopes will attract new accounts with independent rug dealers, Shepherd said.

"We did a study two years ago with our clients and found that for them to consider us a main supplier, we needed to get into the hand-made business," Shepherd said. "We're basically doing to it to answer a need of the consumer."

Momeni is keeping true to the trends it's following-softness.

"We are using rayon for the first time because it has a silken look and feel. It is very soft," said Reza Momeni.

Like Momeni, Sugar Valley, GA-based Mohawk Rug and Textiles is trusting the softer touch is what consumers want and is blending rayon in its mix to answer that need.

"There's a continued movement for rugs to feel good underfoot," director of marketing Patrick Moyer said.

Those with marketing on their minds think they may be able to manipulate the trend to take a turn in their favor.

Trans-Ocean's president Charles Peck has one idea in mind: Work closely with your stores.

"When department stores are designing looks for their catalogs and their furniture vignettes, we work hard so that our rugs complement their sets," Peck said. "The biggest challenge is getting the product to the consumer, and one way to make that easy on yourself as a manufacturer is to work with the retailers that sell your product."

This year's new lines from White Plains, NY-based Trans-Ocean include six collections that are hand-tufted and feature natural and softer hues and organic designs.

Taking a similar approach, LaGrange, GA-based Milliken Rugs and Broadloom is introducing new hand-carved collections that feature "more muted colors and a more textural feel," both of which make the rugs "easier to decorate with," said Bridges.

"We look at wallpapers, drapes, bedding, etc, and try to coordinate our rugs to the trends in those categories," Bridges said.

Similarly, Feizy paid close attention to trends in furniture styles and has modeled its latest rug collections after that category.

"I am seeing in furniture more subdued looks, subtler," Ehsani said. "Lots of leathery and natural looks, lots of beiges and browns and muted colors and less sophisticated patterns. Our new rugs complement that movement."

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