follow us

The Thread

Jennifer Marks
Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Marks shares news and views from around the home textiles marketplace.
  • Free Your Mind

      I’m going to keep this short and sweet. A word to product developers: They won’t know they want it until you create it. A word to merchants: They won’t know it exists until you present it to them. A lot of tax refund money headed to consumers will be going into savings or to pay down debt. What they do spend, they are increasingly putting on travel and dining. And yet, they’re still researching product online and pinning up wanna-haves. Social media networks – including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google and YouTube – are working hard to become ... Read More
  • Future Shock

    Have you heard? Brick-and-mortar retail stores are kaput, passé, doomed. They are about to become, as Monty Python would have said it, ex-parrots. You would think the annual gathering of the National Retail Federation would be the last event to foster such a point of view, but it emerged as a key theme during last month’s NRF expo in New York. Steve Barr, a partner and the US Retail and Consumer Sector leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, told online outlet Retail Dive this year will bring “more store closures, more bankruptcies and restructurings, and increased shareholder activism that will either lead ... Read More
  • Ah, l’amour

    You’ve heard the advertising adage – “Sex sells.” It’s rarely used in the marketing of bedding, at least not in the U.S. And a mattress topper, so utilitarian and always out of sight, would seem to be the un-sexiest textile product of the lot. Not so fast. At Heimtextil earlier this month, Austrian bedding manufacturer Hefel Bed and Sleep was promoting the “Hefel Romance Mattress Topper” with language that promoted its ability to enhance…the mood, shall we say. “The Hefel Romance mattress topper sets the scene for a truly romantic bedroom – in a completely natural way. Microcrystals ... Read More
  • Agenda 2016

    One thing you can say for the home textiles industry, there’s no time for post-holiday blues. As quick as you can sing “Auld Lang Syne” it’s trade show time. In addition to all that yummy new product to look over, most events will be packed with educational sessions about color trends, sustainability, leveraging social media and looking at ways to do better business. Here are a few of the things I’m going to be keeping an eye on this year. Smart fabrics: Google “wearable tech” and the first non-ad to pop up is Amazon, with a shop ... Read More
  • Bamboozled

    Apparently, quite a few companies still don’t get it: The Federal Trade Commission is going after products with fiber content labelled as “bamboo.” In the same week that the FTC announced four retailers are paying a collective $1.3 million in fines over the matter, I was sorting through new product submissions for our January trade show coverage and was astonished to see a number of them described as being made from bamboo. It’s been nearly six years since the FTC alerted the industry that it would start cracking down on bamboo labelling – with penalties of up to ... Read More
  • Fit to Print

    Every year at Heimtextil, we see more and more of them — fabulous digital prints, almost entirely coming from European manufacturers. During each Home Fashions Market week in New York, we saw a few more of them — a digitally printed duvet cover program here, a digitally printed dec pillow program for ecommerce there. And over the past year, it does feel as though digital print is finally gathering force for home textiles products in the U.S. market. With the machinery getting faster and the cost of inks coming down, digital printing capacities are also expanding here at home. Several of ... Read More
  • Why Not Here?

    The Europeans have out-paced us in digital textile printing for some time now. But why have we let them? I spent last week talking to several U.S. digital textile print houses (it’s the subject of our December issue cover story) and put the question to the experts. Why are the Europeans doing more of it – and on a larger scale – than we are? The answer: Because even when the business shifted to Asia, they never shut down their mills. Especially in Italy, where the textiles industry is anchored by fashion apparel, they kept their plants open and invested ... Read More
  • The New Supply Chain

    In what was a rare treat, I spent one day last month in a room with executives from Target, JCPenney, Husdon’s Bay Company, Macy’s and several top designer brands. Alas, they were all from the apparel side of the business. But the topic under discussion at the Sourcing Journal Summit was the future of the supply chain — one that’s already evolving at rapid speed. Long story short, tomorrow is already here. I could probably write at least five more columns on the subject, but here are some of the key take-aways. Worker aspirations. “Our industry is on ... Read More
  • Off-Price Envy

    I was out doing store work in New Jersey yesterday and popped into the recently opened Nordstrom Rack across the road from the Monmouth Mall. Would it have any home textiles? Why, yes, it did. Housed in a small area under signage reading “Accessories,” there were sheets, towels, dec pillows, throws and some holiday décor pieces. None of it looked like excess inventory to me. The palettes were curated and coordinated. The labeling on the sheets and towels: Nordstrom Rack. The RN number: Nordstom Inc. Rack has been around for several years, of course, and there are now 194 ... Read More
  • The Lowdown

    New York Home Fashions Week began as the presidents of the United States, China and Russia arrived in town for the UN General Assembly and wound to its conclusion just ahead of a nor’easter. Throw in Pope Francis’ visit to the city just a few days ahead of market plus the Jewish holiday of Sukkot at the kick-off of the week — it made for a crazier-than-usual gathering of the industry. Now that the dust has settled, a look at some of the week’s stand-outs. Brands, Part I. After several seasons of celebrity brand launches, the market brought a ... Read More
  • There’s more than meets the eye

    To every supplier who has ever uttered the words “I have six of the major accounts, so I’m all set,” here is a headline that ought to make your hair stand on end: “Target to end ties with Cherokee apparel brand in 2017.” That 2017 date is significant. It marks the 20th anniversary of the brand’s alliance with Target, one the retailer will celebrate by flushing Cherokee out of its assortment. Cherokee is a $1 billion brand for Target. And Target represents about 43% of Cherokee’s sales. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a cautionary tale. We’re ... Read More
  • Another mixed bag

      The slowly rising economic tide is not lifting all boats, at least not among the key retailers of home textiles. As merchants will shortly be headed into New York showrooms for the September market, here’s a run-down on how their companies are doing. Big Lots: Promoted coo Lisa Bachmann to chief merchant as it preps to launch ecomm next year. In-store, improved qualities and harmonized palettes are driving gains in soft home. Said ceo David Campesi: “We don’t buy ugly anymore.” Outlook: Boosted full-year guidance. Burlington: Home showed improvement and is a category being targeted for growth. Company ... Read More