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The Thread

Jennifer Marks
Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Marks shares news and views from around the home textiles marketplace.
  • 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
  • The 70%

    I was talking about consumer trends last week with the president of WSL Strategic Retail, Candace Corlett, when she laid a surprising statistic on me. Here it is: 70% of U.S. households today are adult-only. Who knew? Those households are made up of aging Boomers, unmarried Millennial couples and roommate groups, singles (some of them divorced) and couples who have so far put off having children, Corlett told me. “It has changed the composition of society,” she said. There’s also a caveat. Overall, there is a greater number of households with children than there was 40 years ago ... Read More
  • Behind the Numbers

    One Saturday last spring, I was standing in line at a check-out counter in the Macy’s women’s department at my local mall. As the wait went on, I took a sweater out of my little bundle and put it back on the display table. The woman in line behind me said: “That’s how it is when you have to wait — you start putting things back. Unless you’re at HomeGoods — then you start picking more things up!” That unsolicited endorsement came to mind when reviewing this year’s H&TT Retailing Giants report on the Top 50 ... Read More
  • Millennials: Four quick things to know

    I’m in the midst of assembling a PowerPoint presentation for the Home Textiles Sourcing Expo tomorrow, and I am awash in Millennial-related data. I feel compelled to share. Did you know that next year Millennials (born between 1980-2000) will officially become the largest consumer group in the U.S.? Conservatively, their 2015 spending will hit $600 million – although some estimates put the number as high as $1 trillion. Do you know how they break out by segment? Marketing agency Barkley USA recently identified six distinct groups: Hip-ennial, Millennial Mom, Anti-Millennial, Gadget Guru, Clean and Green Millennial, and Old-School Millennial ... Read More
  • Retail Lab

    We have entered a new age of experimentation at retail, with an assortment of prototypes and new concepts opening in the coming months. You can take it as a sign retailers are feeling comfortable enough with the economy to begin testing new formulas. Or you could consider it an attempt by decades-old retailers to come up with something new. Bed Bath & Beyond: The Chelsea store in Manhattan is constantly in flux, but the big new thing opening there this month is a World Market home furnishings shop. Know what’s even bigger and potentially cooler? The 100,000-sq.-ft. store ... Read More
  • While you’re in town…

    Between the Texworld/Home Sourcing Expo, NY Now and the New York Home Fashions Market, there will a lot of home textiles folks in New York over the next three months. Aside from all the new products, there’s plenty that’s new and worth carving out time for on the retail front. Here are four that should be at the top of your must-visit list. Bed Bath & Beyond’s flagship Manhattan store on 6th Avenue at 18th Street. Check out the new World Market shop-in-shop, which is set to open in July. This is separate from the World Market ... Read More
  • Top to Bottom

    The recent raft of first-quarter financial reports brought mostly encouraging news about the performance of home departments at major retailers. In order of optimism, here’s the rundown: Anthropologie is barreling ahead with its expansion of home merchandise, and the broad category posted a double-digit comp increase. The nameplate, a division of Urban Outfitters Inc., has been building home inventory in conjunction with a dedicated home catalog strategy. The first dropped last spring and the second was issued last month. The wedding registry Anthropologie launched late last year is serving as an important feeder into home — with over 40% of ... Read More