Tomorrow's no longer just a day away

Carole Sloan, January 27, 2003

It's not often that one may revisit critical moments in this industry's evolution. A column written after Heimtex 2000 captured such a turning point — one just as valid today. It shows that change will continue to define the home fashions business.

The column opened with the observation that "Tomorrow is here." For anyone walking the halls at Heimtextil in Germany that year, there was no question that the landscape had changed — dramatically.

Across the breadth of the show, exhibitors from India, Pakistan, Morocco, China, Turkey and other nontraditional homelands were side by side with the long-time exhibitor countries like Italy, Spain, Germany, France and England.

But "tomorrow" was most dramatically revealed in 2000 where the countries of origin were only from the Asian and Indian sub-continent — among them, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, China, Syria, Jordan and the Philippines.

If anyone exhibiting or shopping Heimtex didn't do a thorough walk-through, they missed the future of the textiles business. Reports from suppliers walking the show in 2002 confirm that was even more true this year.

Then as now, there existed problems with a lot of the offerings ranging from quality concerns to technical skills, to design sophistication as well as the need for these companies to understand concepts such as design copyrights, exclusivity and distribution.

But many of the faster-paced companies have already changed and corrected those problems — some faster than others, perhaps.

Yet in the real world, the fabrics and manufactured products from these companies will continue to affect the way business is done around the world.

For American retailers and suppliers, a visit to these stands is now a "must," and many are now routinely shopping in the companies' home countries. Many jobbers in 2000 were looking long and hard at the potential — and many have moved into buying postures. As for home textiles manufacturers, the offshore supply base has joined the fold of their offerings, along with their domestic capacity.

HTT noted two years ago that anyone not staying up to date and involved in what was happening was playing the role of an ostrich. Most of the ostriches have now gone to live with the dodos.

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