The Thread

Jennifer Marks
Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Marks shares news and views from around the home textiles marketplace.
  • 2018: The Year of New Retail Formats

    At the moment, bricks & mortar retailing looks to be burning away in a conflagration of store closings. Something on the order of 5,000 doors will disappear over the coming months across a range of channels: department stores, apparel specialists, sporting goods, drugstores and others. It’s hard to see for all the billowing smoke, but new concepts will soon arise from the ashes. If 2017 is destined to go down in history as The Year of Retail Store Closures, then 2018 is shaping up to be The Year of New Retail Formats. A couple of them are new concepts ... Read More
  • The Through Lines

    With a few exceptions, home seemed to hold its own at many major retailers during the first quarter. In some instances, it was a star. The recent round of first-quarter analyst calls and strategic announcements turned up some common threads among store-based retailers grappling with a rapidly shifting landscape. Reduced store inventories. Several retailers discussed efforts to pare in-store stocks – some simultaneously expanding online assortments. From a vendor perspective, this portends fewer up-front orders for goods and more turn-key fulfillment of merchandise the vendors will be responsible for keeping on hand. For consumers, the best-case scenario is more thoughtfully edited ... Read More
  • Tell us about your new products!

    The summer trade show season is about to start – and we want to hear from you. H&TT will be distributing issues at the Atlanta, Las Vegas and NY Now markets this summer, featuring new home textiles introductions at the shows. Here’s what you need to know. Atlanta Market. The deadline is Wednesday, May 31. Submit your new product images and information to Las Vegas Market. The deadline is May 31. Submit your new product images and information to NY Now. The deadline is Friday, July 7. Submit your new product images and ... Read More
  • Yes, It's Real

    Anybody who believes eco-friendly talk in the industry is a mere sop to Millennials and tree-huggers hasn’t been paying attention. Here’s what’s gone down in just the past four weeks. Walmart wants to clear the air. Walmart launched a new program to eliminate greenhouse gases by one gigaton in a little over a decade. The retailer’s new “Project Gigaton” includes the launch of an online toolkit for suppliers joining the effort. The project, with a goal date of 2030, takes aim at manufacturing, materials and/or use of products and encompasses energy, waste, packaging, agricultural practices ... Read More
  • Gobbling up Niche Markets

    There appears to be a spending spree underway among bricks & mortar retailers. Yes, mid-tier department stores are shuttering some doors and apparel specialty chains are suffering from the “no-more-stuff” attitude exhibited by post-Recessionary consumers. But bricks retailers are showing a powerful appetite for niche online sites, some of which have less to do with merchandise sales than their community building. Consider what’s happened in just the past few months: Walmart recently snapped up vintage-style apparel site ModCloth, outdoor gear specialist MooseJaw and online shoe site ShoeBuy. This after its acquisition in late 2016 of It’s now ... Read More
  • The Big Tier

    You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. Colonel Jessup, “A Few Good Men” Deep down in places suppliers don’t normally make a fuss over in their showrooms, there is the business being done with off-price retailers. The so-called “third tier” of retailing is now the fastest growing channel in bricks & mortar. While the power of e-commerce cannot be under-stated, the physical store is still where the vast majority of home textiles purchases are completed: 70% for ... Read More
  • To invest or divest, that is the question

    It’s been an eventful first quarter, filled with some surprising initiatives and some not-so-surprising store closings and layoffs. It’s hard to decide which came as the bigger bombshell, Target’s announcement that it will become a radically different retailer over the next three years or TJX Cos.’ decision to launch a new home furnishings chain. Apparently TJX hasn’t heard the country is overstored. Neither has Ross Stores, which will add another 90 units this year. Nor Dollar Tree, which plans to open 650 new units on top of the 14,000-plus it already operates. Then there were ... Read More
  • Tick-Tock – It’s market time

    The clock is winding down on sharing your new product news for our big Market Week issue. Just a gentle reminder that the deadline for submitting photos for the New York Home Fashions Market new product gallery – which will be distributed in the showroom buildings during market – is a week from today: Monday, Feb. 27. Send your photos to: You may submit high resolution photos at the bottom of the form. Image size must be at least 4 inches wide at 300 dpi. Be sure to include product information for each image. Images ... Read More
  • The State of Play

    Here’s what the future looks like for the home textiles industry. It’s faster, it’s more fragmented in the way it delivers products to consumers and it’s more sustainable. Digital textiles printing, the subject of our February cover story, doesn’t just have the potential to provide quickly produced, uniquely personalized products to the masses — it’s already doing it. Jo-Ann Fabric, Spoonflower and Zazzle are giving consumers a world of fabric design options, while companies like Springs Creative work the back-end fulfillment. And if you’re tired of hearing about e-commerce it’s probably time to ... Read More
  • It’s The Consumer

    Were you surprised last week when the National Retail Federation announced that holiday sales exceeded expectations? I sure was. Total November and December retail sales rose 4.0% to $658.3 billion, besting NRF’s forecast. Non-store sales jumped 12.6% to $122.9 billion, again higher than NRF’s forecast. Out in the stores it sure didn’t feel like it. But then again, take a look at the non-store growth. Trying to figure out what’s going on with U.S. shoppers was a common topic of conversation at Heimtextil last week. What do they want? Why aren ... Read More
  • Retail in Flux

    Last summer I got a call from a reporter working on Inc. magazine’s annual “Fastest Growing Companies in America report.” What, she wanted to know, could I tell her about Who? As it turned out, clocked in as the 4th fastest growing company in the country. The Indiana-based seller of bedding, bath, home and garden products generated a revenue spike of more than 26,000% in 2015, ending the year with $30.6 million in sales. The e-comm retailer will mark its eighth year in business in 2017. That’s emblematic of the state of ... Read More
  • Our Top Online Stories of 2016

    'Tis the time of the year for reflection, introspection and Top 10 lists. Some of our most-read stories for 2016 may surprise you. Others certainly won’t. The ranking is based on unique page views logged between Jan. 1 through today for news stories posted in 2016. In some cases, I’ve consolidated where follow-up stories on a single topic were also huge hit generators. Did you miss any of this news when it happened? HFPA's New York Home Fashions Market dates for 2016-2017 are here. On any given day, somebody somewhere is looking up the dates for New ... Read More