Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, April 7, 2003
Well, another home textiles market has come and gone.
And overall, it wasn't the disaster that the naysayers predicted. On the other hand, it had little resemblance to what markets were just a scant decade ago.
But this one certainly can be identified as defining the future of this business's markets — from the basics like who comes, and who doesn't; who goes where; and more important, how product is developed and presented.
As was evident in conversation after conversation, the trend to fewer retailers coming to New York — as well as smaller groups of people per retail entity — continued. But few on the supplier side made a big issue of whether diminishing attendance marks the demise of markets as we know them.
Good grief. This has been a subject of industry debate for eons.
More significant is what appears to be a rapidly escalating trend, part of what a number of suppliers identify as the "no appointment, no drop-in" syndrome.
The retail corporate matrix is in large measure to blame for the lack of "shopping the market" that used to be the mantra of any buyer with professional pride. What's new really meant what was asked. It didn't translate in a silent language to "What can we buy that so-and-so flew with — but cheaper?"
Today, especially among some retailers — and some department store groups come to mind immediately — the matrix evolves to the lowest common denominator to accommodate the weak sisters in a corporate group.
Last week's market added another twist as the proliferation of so-called brands reached a level of silliness. Products attached to the name of an entertainer, a magazine or even a TV show were developed as the last word in marketing and in attracting specific target consumer groups. Both suppliers and retailers appear to be tripping all over themselves in their quest to try to offer something unique without thinking through just how much time, money and effort it takes to make even a minimal consumer impact.
And the concept that retailers or suppliers in home textiles would make this kind of investment on their own is a radical concept indeed.
There were some other interesting things to emerge from the market. But more on this next week.
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