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Window Makers Feel Post-Market Success

Jill Rowen -- Home Textiles Today, April 7, 2012

NEW YORK - Window makers are basking in the glow of the upbeat New York Home Fashions Market two weeks ago. Increased attendance and ready-to buy retailers converged to create the positive mood, suppliers told HTT.
     After seasons of safe selections, suppliers reported that buyers were venturing outside their comfort zone, looking for more fashion in prints and colors and newness in technology and design, rather than the status quo basics from previous seasons. The best news for suppliers was that higher prices were in the mix and retailers were accepting them.
     "It was a great market, and we were actually writing orders in our showroom," noted Louis Hornick III, Louis Hornick & Sons, which showcased its Firefend line. "We focused on our best attributes," he said.
     "We saw a strong interest in ‘made in U.S.A., and a lot of people were interested in the dot.com aspect and our ability to drop ship. Our dot.com business has grown tremendously."
     "Business has been better, and buyers were more apt to look at something new," said Christine Bolton, president, Corona & Robertson, a division of Natco. "They were playing it safe the last few years."
     Among its hits: a patent pending window covering that uses existing vertical blinds hardware. According to Bolton, the product was well received, with one retailer committed to testing the product, and additional test markets pending. It also featured a program using boucle yarn. "Not you're grandmother's lace," said Bolton. One gray area: juvenile business, which Bolton said stayed even, not growing significantly.
     "We've had the best first two months in years," said Loren Sweet, vp, Brentwood Original, who noted that buyers were also looking at higher prices point products. Brentwood's outdoor programs garnered attention with fashion items - prints and bright colors - catching buyers' eyes. "Decorative accessories naturally benefit from the color and fashion trends," he noted.
     "It was a great market not only in terms of number of retailers; but also the length of time they were staying to talk to us," noted Jason Carr, principal, Softline Home Fashion. "They had 15 minute appointments and stayed for an hour." Carr noted that reaction to its outdoor line using Guardin natural fabric protection "exceeded expectations." The process helps make fabric stain and water repellent.
     At Ellery Home Styles, revamped showroom space set the stage to showcase both its bedding programs and window treatments, according to Angela Boswell, design director. "We were able to show a broad range of products from formal to casual and had a really exciting market." Success in its Eclipse line included the Rough Luxe and Metallic looks. Boswell said its Historic Charleston line was also well received.
     "We saw great attendance," agreed Barry Goodman, vp, Commonwealth Home Fashions. "It was certainly up over the last few markets, but in the end it all comes down to product. Our customers were pleased with our new concepts and our price points." Among its hits for this market: a burnout motif coming in at a $29, new paisley designs in its Thermologic brand, a Market Square jacquard on a solid color base, and Commonwealth's popularly priced Prelude program of insulated panels.
     Duck River Textile sees the window category "going through a transformation, becoming more fashionable than in the past," said Joel Bren, executive vp of marketing/special projects.
     "New multipurpose curtains that feature an intrinsic value - such as energy saving - are currently in product development and being tested. The curtain industry is moving forward and faster in [tapping] the high tech world of today," he said.

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