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What A Week That Was

Brent Felgner, Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, September 29, 2008

Well, another market for the home textiles industry is over, and what a time it was to have an industry buying-and-selling event.

In all the years of being involved in the business world, I can't remember one week that coincided with crisis globally as this one did.

Remarkably, the attitudes on the part of both buyers and sellers was remarkably calm, albeit concerned. It definitely was not business as usual, as everyone was focused on the macro situation while trying to calmly evaluate the micro scenario — the latest innovations in sheets, towels, bedding and the like.

Of particular concern was the growing unavailability of credit, regardless of financial status — a situation that could have major implications for both buyers and sellers.

One of the key things emerging from this recent market week was the increasing acceptance and marketability of things organic and eco-friendly. For the most part, suppliers and retailers alike are beginning to understand some of the differentiators in this whole new spectrum of product development.

It looks like eco-friendly, whether recyclable or just partially organic, is becoming the more acceptable path for each segment of the home textiles industry to follow. By modifying the entire process from fiber to fabric, from product to packaging, many believe that this is a major step forward.

And so it is. But there are others who are more of the pure-materials persuasion, and they continue to move ahead — especially in the arena of packaging, which was shown in many and more creative ways this time around.

As for product, it's funny how everything that goes around, comes around. Specifically this market, we saw more in quilts that offered new looks, and markedly updated interpretations of classic themes. This classification of home textiles product has been dismissed for several years as “downmarket” or “passé.” As one gray-haired sage commented about quilts and other products, “This industry tends to eat its young.” The tendency among insiders to get bored with something after a couple of years is to jettison the product — not evolve it.

Another element of the business that appeared to be well-received was the enhanced color palette — not necessarily the strong brights, which did get some kudos, but a more diverse palette away from the brown, beige and camel syndrome that has afflicted this business for too long.

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