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Feeling "Pretty" Good

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, October 15, 2010

IT'S BEEN LONG T IME since I've seen so many pleasant, even smiling faces during a home textiles - oops, home fashions - market. But the market here in New York earlier this month certainly reflected a major change in attitude on the part of both buyers and suppliers.
     Yes, there was the whole menu of concerns, but most folks seemed to understand that these were more macro than micro issues and not just confined to the home textiles world. I guess when you realize that some stuff is just out of your hands, it almost becomes easier to deal with.
"The market here in New York earlier this month certainly reflected a major change in attitude on the part of both buyers and suppliers."
     So for the moment, we won't even go near those topics - they've been discussed and over-discussed - but instead let's look at some of the industry's happenings.
     First off - I can't remember using the word "pretty" so many times in such a short time frame. But in showroom after showroom there was lots of "pretty" in terms of new product - not just in bedding, where it was a most welcome addition, but also in many other categories including window.
     Perhaps this is the dose of freshness the marketplace needs to get consumers excited once again about their homes. We've been through too long an era of dull drab jacquards that as they disintegrated into a price/number of pieces story became less and less a fashion reason to buy than a "wait and see how low it will go" scenario.
     Beyond just the generic word "pretty" there were lots of ways it was featured - lavish embroideries, cutwork, gorgeous prints and creative ruching that could rival that of the finest Paris ateliers.
      But beyond "pretty" there seems to be a growing awareness that today's consumer is looking for something more than what the industry has been putting in front of here for the last decade.
     There's a whole shift in lifestyle and values, and this business has to catch up to stay even. Ease in lifestyle, more consumer friendly approaches and a new language that speaks outside the "industry" jargon.
     Just look at the advertising from the key players in this business and try to put yourself in the customers' shoes. What is drapery hardware and how will it maker life better and easier? Why is a towel quick dry better than a nice plump fluffy towel? What does a gazzilion pieces of a matching bedroom ensemble in a bag mean in terms of comfort and enjoyment?
     These questions in today's era are just the tip of what customers now expect - and will expect even more down the road.
     Some real progress was made at this market. But more certainly can be done.

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