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Tripartite Theory of Textiles

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, May 15, 2006

It looks like there may be a new, three-way division among suppliers and retailers in home textiles.

Occupying the mainstream, both in terms of distribution and volume, are the typical players: the Wal-Marts, the Kmarts, the BBBs, the LNTs, the JCPs, the Macy's, and on and on.

What is happening is that as one retailer or supplier moves through a factory off-shore, another is certain to follow on their heels, see their stuff, and order something “just like that.”

Ergo – the sameness that currently pervades the world of mainstream home textiles.

Enter phase 2. It's called the luxury sector, but in reality is the high quality, special design segment of the home textiles market that makes onesies as well as dozens. Forget about containers.

These suppliers, their retail customers and their consumers are prepared to pay a bit more, get traditional quality of manufacture and be happy as can be with what they bought. Fabrics are unique, constructions and stylings are adaptable and sizable, and deliveries have come a long way from the time-is-nothing attitude of past decades.

Then we move to the true designer level of the home business — the folks in the design centers around the country and the increasing number of designer brands that are finding their way into these spaces.

These are the consumers who want stuff made to their specs, with the trim that evokes their favorite color or a monogram or a design statement that is unique to their wants and desires.

It is between this realm and the luxury sector that we can expect to see more of the Polo Ralph Lauren, Barbara Barry, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan brands straddling both worlds.

There isn't enough space in a Macy's — even on Herald Square, Union Square or State Street — to house all those brands, and market Federated's own labels.

There's a market where the two non-mainstream segments of designers and suppliers can prosper. It's time for those that want to, to sit back, plan, and execute.

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