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Offshore, and out of the box

Heath E. Combs, Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, February 17, 2003

As we move to finish the first half of the home furnishings exhibitions' marathon for 2003, an interesting point is beginning to emerge. They're getting down to business again — the nuts 'n bolts kind of business issues occasionally necessary to get re-grounded and stay healthy.

More and more, we're seeing home fashions show sponsors linking their basic raison d'être — that is, the launch of the next season's new products — linked to developing trends with one or more back-to-basics business issues.

We've seen it coming on the past few years as home fashion shows were featured side-by-side with panels discussing such a broad range of subjects as design copyright piracy, customs activities, upcoming government legislation and the like. This is not just a U.S. point-of-view. We've seen it spread around the world, including Asia, to all levels of home furnishings, including furniture and home accessories.

Significant within this trend is the beginning of a new home textiles attitude. The various segments seem to be looking outside the business for opinions and participation.

It's just that in the past few weeks we have noticed more cross-market dialogue at some European events designed primarily for home textiles and the offering of — not just opinion — but research data extending well beyond the focus of the exhibition.

That such information is exceedingly valuable to a fragile trade seems obvious; there can never be enough, so long as it remains reliable.

As we read and study the global happenings taking place, we see it being addressed in such esoteric areas as the positioning of the World Trade Organization and extending to joint venture alliances at all levels. These discussions "on a higher plane," too, are invaluable. They address sometimes-controversial, always essential issues of industrywide importance.

And of course, we still must follow the product trends on a global and regional basis.

It's great to see so many chips in the silo walls. It should continue, however — quicker and with more intensity. Without it, we will have an even more radically different home textiles world.

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