Window View - March 2011

Rise & Shine?
By Len Mozer

The Romance Collection from Softline Home Fashions features eco-friendly water- and stain-repellant anti-microbial fabric. Offered as a ready made curtain, decorative pillow or by the bolt, the collection is available in 23 colors. ?
Renaissance Home Fashions/Stylemaster adds Capri tiers and valance to its Kitchen Curtain Collection. It is available in blush, lavender, splash, citrus, lime, mandarin, espresso and toast. Capri is offered in 60- by 24-inch and 60- by 36-inch sizes sold separately as a pair of tiers, as well as a 60- by 14-inch valance.

Source Global offers a different approach to the usual thermal, light blocking and sound dampening curtains depicted at far left. The idea is to have a second thermal curtain (shown left) that hangs behind a primary thermal curtain to create a layered look and increase energy efficiency. The second curtain, if installed on an Add-A-Rod or a basic Sash Rod, would further block drafts and light, and dampen outside sound.

Tempered by higher costs of products from China, drapery/curtain sector optimism rises

Two things are rising as the New York Home Fashions Market opens March 14, 2011. One is good; the other, not so good.

The good thing is a sense of increased optimism for the business, which was absent at the September 2010 N.Y. Home Fashions Market. Sales activity, especially in the fourth quarter of 2010, registered a boost for a number of suppliers, enabling them to match their 2009 figures or even show a few percentage points of gain for the year as retailers, catalog houses and dot-com companies began to place meaningful orders to refresh their offerings.

The unhappy development is that the industry is experiencing a sharp rise in prices, especially for merchandise from China, the major source of ready-made home textiles for North American suppliers. Cotton costs are zooming and price hikes are even being applied to polyester, a petroleum-based fiber, as oil prices spike. Add to this the increased costs for labor as the standard of living for Chinese workers continues to improve, plus higher charges for shipping.

As for the somewhat heightened sense of optimism, suppliers cite orders being placed by customers as late as December and January on new styles introduced at the 2010 September Market. They admit these gains are modest and do not signal a major recovery for the industry, but many executives concede they had anticipated further declines in the business and were “pleasantly surprised” by the uptick in the fourth quarter.

Commonwealth Home Fashions actually enjoyed a “phenomenal year” in 2010 matching figures going back to 2007, according to Barry Goodman. He relates, “Everything just fell into place. We had the right products at the right time.” These products include their insulated panels and outdoor draperies and curtains. Goodman notes that, in addition to their traditional customers, Commonwealth’s drop-ship business to Internet dot-com companies was very strong last year.

As for the added cost of linings, interlinings and other backings, Goodman holds that more consumers now recognize the fuel-saving advantages of the insulated panels, especially after this exceptionally cold winter, and are willing to pay the higher prices.

Reactions To Price Hikes

Regarding passing on the price hikes from China to the stores, opinions are mixed. Some industry executives, such as Goodman, Carl Goldstein of S. Lichtenberg and Jason Carr of Softline, report that they have been able to negotiate reasonable price increases with their customers.

Several note that those retailers who are also buying merchandise direct from Chinese sources and experiencing the same cost hikes seem to be more amenable to the higher prices quoted by their other suppliers.

But a number of other executives say they are still encountering severe resistance to any increase from most of their accounts. They say that the only alternative left for them is to either drop the line or the customer. “Were not in business to lose money,” declares one.

Another official said he can raise prices on some new styles, but not on running lines. Goodman comments, “The days of $9.99 panels are going to be tough to achieve.” Others indicate they plan to concentrate in the $19.99 to $39.99 range.

Sandy McNeil of Beacon Looms expresses a concern that due to the higher raw material costs, some suppliers “will down-spec like mad,” cutting corners and lowering quality to maintain cheaper price points. She feels that those consumers in the market for new curtains and draperies “are more often buying quality,” especially those products with perceived value such as lined and interlined panels. McNeil holds that the “cheap and cheerful” lower-price goods should be limited to juvenile and tweener lines today.

Design Trends

However, don’t discount the ingenuity of the industry’s stylists to come up with attractive window treatments at attractive prices. For example, buyers at the March Market should expect to see a number of sheers with elaborate embroideries and embellishments, such as sequins, beading and ribbons, as well as textures. In fact, building on an ongoing trend, they can look for greater use of embroideries in many types of fabrics as a more economical way of achieving pattern over jacquard weaving or printing.

As to pattern, though traditional motifs still hold sway in many lines, the trend today is for more contemporary or transitional designs with a lot of geometrics and a more masculine influence. Other important trends to look for include more pieced styles offering a variety of textures, more faux silks, more elaborate top treatments and more tiers, which appear to gaining in importance.

Designers emphasize that their new tiers are no longer confined to traditional kitchen styles with ducks and roosters. The new shorts they emphasize offer a variety of designs styled for all the rooms in a home and especially for the kids’ rooms. Some even feature valances and grommets.

The use of grommets is still growing, dominating many offerings, though some executives stress that they also continue to offer the basic rod pockets and backtabs. Several stylists voiced strong opposition to the spread of grommets, with one designer stating, “They make everything look like shower curtains. We’re not adding any more grommets at this Market.”

Company-By-Company Breakdown

The indoor/outdoor Escape Leaf from Commonwealth features a leaf motif printed on voile. It is a continuation of the company’s Outdoor Décor line and enhances its solid and stripe programs offered in multiple colors. Escape Leaf panels measure 54 by 84 inches.
Oakwood from Achim is offered in natural, black and brown. It is made with 80 percent polyester and 20 percent linen. Tiers are available in 58- by 24-inch and 58- by 36-inch pairs. The valance measures 58 by 14 inches.

Above Cuts in the fabric create a multi-dimensional effect as well as a modern geometric pattern in Beacon Looms’ Zoe.

Here’s a capsule report on what buyers can expect to see in the showrooms during the N.Y. Home Fashions Market:

Softline continues to feature its popular double-faced reversible fabrics and its “natural” collection. Look, too, for fire-retardant fabrics duvet covers, lighter-weight jacquards and new geometrics with darker muted tones like blacks and grays.

Commonwealth offers new types of headings on its panels, more grommets, well-priced embroidered sheers and a variety of textures. It is also debuting more outdoor and insulated products.

Beacon Looms shows more room-darkening styles for the juvenile market. Look also for odor-eliminating fabrics, use of interesting novelty yarns and jacquards with more transitional soft-modern patterns and grommeted sheers.

Lorraine Home Fashions displays more prints on polytwill and polyduck fabrics in geometric motifs as well as expanded use of grommets including grommeted tiers. Also on display are embroidered voiles with attached valances and new lighter-weight blackout twills.

Croscill Home is featuring innovative cut and sew treatments and more embellishments. Look for new jacquards and sheers that offering extensive embroidery, burnouts or heat-transfer prints with updated traditional designs. Expect to see linings or interlinings on all panels, except sheers.

Achim continues to highlight its strong tier programs, including shorts with separate valances in designs styled for dens, children’s rooms and other spaces. Also featured are more window-in-a-bag sets and more matching accessories.

TexStyle, now headquartered at its 261 Fifth Avenue showroom since its purchase by Bolan, introduces Pierce, a yarn-dyed two-tone stria faux silk; Lynden, a sheer with horizontal stripes created by different textured yarns; and Leighton, a blackout faux silk. You’ll also see numerous pieced and pleated panels.

Stylemaster is focusing on textured voiles with grommets, printed sheers and an expanded selection of tiers. Expect to see more tweener colors and new ensembles of textured fabrics with sheers.

PHI continues to highlight tailored looks and more large-scaled embroideries in transitional patterns. Look also for innovative pleating in both horizontal and vertical treatments, more pieced numbers, soutache embroidery and a brushed polyester fabric.

S. Lichtenberg is debuting Montclair, a striped satin sheer mixed with Lurex yarns in warm color palettes offered with an Ascot valance and beaded trim; Renee, a lined sheer in neutrals and trend colors with a tailored valance and coordinated print; and Montego, a textured woven panel in a modern geometric motif of warm and cool colors, featuring decorative metal grommets.

India Ink introduces drapery hardware with doorknob shapes in the finials enhanced by trims or bands.

You’ll also see new finishes in rustic brass, as well as copper, bronze and burnished gold. New finial materials include a mosaic tile as well as crackled glass in addition to woods, bamboos and resins adorned with metal finishes.

PDK Arley shows more jacquards in contemporary looks and new additions to its tiers featuring plaids, checks and other styles that work well in family rooms and kitchens. Also new are embroidered sheers with sequins and other embellishments.

CHF Industries is presenting more jacquard-woven engineered panels with self-contained designs that can be reversed from top-to-bottom or side-to side. Look for more lines and interlined drapery panels and more contemporary patterns targeted toward the urban consumer.

Versailles is adding new colorings to its Bamboo Ring-Top Panels line of ready-made woven woods designed for patio doors as well as windows. Also featured are new drapery hardware accessory items including clips, hold-backs and tie-backs, and new beaded string treatments that work well as room-dividers or closet doors.

Source Global exhibits a new application for its Add-A-Rod drapery hardware enabling users to place an insulated panel against a window to seal off the cold air, preventing side and top drafts.

As to the outlook for this March Market, all exhibitors expect it to be well-attended by the stores with buyers looking for exciting new styles to freshen their selections.

But regarding sales activity for the first half of 2011, supplier attitudes vary. Some feel that until the housing market starts to show a marked improvement and the unemployment figures drop significantly, sales activity for home furnishings and all home textiles will continue to be sluggish.

Others say they sense a more optimistic attitude among their customers and feel that if the recovery figures continue to climb in other industries as well as the stock market, some of this will rub off in positive numbers for the curtain and drapery business.


• Achim, 212-686-6652,
• Beacon Looms, 201-833-1600,
• CHF Industries, 212-951-7800,
• Commonwealth Home Fashions, 514-384-8290,
• Croscill Home, 212-213-8000,
• India Ink, 323-446-0702,
• Lorraine Home Fashions, 212-684-0805,
• PDK Arley, 212-889-1818
• PHI, 212-863-3820,
• S. Lichtenberg, 212-689-4510,
• Softline Home Fashions, 800-701-4220,
• Source Global, 800-257-6872,
• Stylemaster/Renaissance Home Fashions, 718-805-0200,
• TexStyle, 212-213-1135
• Versailles, 514-351-8402,


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