Annual Exclusive Report - October 2012

Exploring Now & Then
By Wanda Jankowski

Who’s A Hipster?

Here are some tips drawn from an article called “How To Be A Hipster” on wikihow.com:

  • The term “hipster,” traced back to origins in the 1930s, today refers to American youth who embrace independent music and art, and old trends worth reviving.
  • Hipsters may frequent vintage stores, reveling in recycling, reusing and rediscovering old brands they see through fresh eyes.
  • Retailers such as H&M and Urban Outfitters cater to them.
  • To spot a hipster, look for skinny jeans, iconic eyewear, plaid shirts, vintage floral or lace dresses, fitted hoodies, cowboy boots, flats or vintage shoe styles, and layered or non-matched clothing.
  • Hipsters tend to be in their teens through 30s, college educated, live in urban areas and are globally connected via the internet.
  • Hipsters tend to spot new trends before they become mainstream, necessitating constant trailblazing to maintain their hipster status.
Serving The Guy Niche The Bone Collector Black ensemble is from the Michael Waddell’s Bone Collector Collection by Kimlor. Waddell is a hunter (aka “bone collector”) with his own Bone Collector tv series. The pigment print, made with 55 percent cotton and 45 percent polyester, is available as a comforter set, sheet set, valance and draperies.
The Mainstreaming Of Modern J. Queen New York offers colorful, modern engineered prints, such as Joy shown, in the new Residents Only Collection geared toward 20- to 30-somethings.
Cool Stuff For Hipsters These pillows from T. Lockman depicting robot toys from the 1950s are a hit with hipsters who are embracing vintage concepts and brands they believe are worthy of reviving.
Coast-To-Coastal Shoreline, from Eastern Accents’ Niche line of laid-back lifestyle design, brings the seaside even to inland homes.
Ship To Shore To Suburb The Shoreline Collection from Nourison offers colorful nautically inspired designs machine made in China with 100 percent polyester that make any interior ship-shape for yar sea-lovers.
Palm Trees & Tropical Breezes One doesn’t have to live in the tropics to enjoy the resort-like feel of Avanti Linens’ Oasis Palm shower curtain and rug adorned with gold embroidered palm trees.

Our annual exclusive State Of The Industry looks at today’s trends and innovations, and celebrates LDB Interior Textiles’ 85th anniversary and industry achievements of times past

Millenials, Hipsters & Other Cool Cats

During N.Y. Market in September, words were spoken that had not been heard before from the mouths of home fashions suppliers—words like “hipsters,” “Millenials,” “Anthropologie-inspired designs,” and “Urban Outfitters types.” More than a year ago, LDB Interior Textiles reported on younger generations who needed catering to as they were, age-wise, on the brink of buying home goods en masse. Finally, suppliers are embracing these younger consumers—particularly the Millenials or Generation Ys born from 1982 to the early 2000—with innovative, fresh points of view in offerings for 2013.

Combining the larger-than-Baby-Boomer-generation Millenials and the children of the smaller Generation X (born in early ’60s through early ’80s) accounts for about one-third of the U.S. population. Not a group to be ignored!

These younger consumers grew up with internet and digital technologies that have given them easy access to information, influencing their demand for styles and products that suit their individual tastes.

The “youthful” approaches in new home textile introductions are not to be confused with neon juvenile looks for teens and tweens. The new youthful designs project a sophisticated blending of bright colors with updated interpretations of classic themes, twists on modern motifs, and more options that appeal to niche groups than ever before.

At Revman International, the Steve Madden line features some first-apartment looks for the master bedroom.

“Print and pattern are super-important in fashion and this customer is influenced by them,” notes Diane Piemonte, Revman’s vice-president of creative services.

Pendleton Woolen Mills recently debuted saddle blankets that are the kind of item today’s vintage-loving hipsters are seeking.

Sheri Bodell’s established fashion apparel line and now new fashion bedding collection with HomTex Inc. is created specifically for 20-to-45-year-old women who aspire to the jet set lifestyle and crave rock-and-roll edge.
Even LaZboy has undergone an image update. The brand, with basic bedding from Louisville, had been long perceived as providing the furniture of choice for middle-aged men. As part of the marketing and design campaign to make the brand more relevant to a broader and younger demographic, today LaZboy’s spokesperson is actress/model Brooke Shields.

Regional Goes National

Beyond the growing interest in serving varied broad and niche segments of the younger generations is the increase today in national sales of what had been perceived as “regional” categories.

Jennifer Sheridan, national sales manager, C&F Enterprises, Inc., explains that looks once geared for sale in distinct locales are now selling nationally because they express “the essence of where people wish they were. Home today is a retreat.”

So coastal, nautical, lodge, tropical and resort looks are selling for use in locations other than vacation homes, woodland residences and cottages by the sea as consumers select designs that transport them daily to environments they have enjoyed or someday hope to visit.

Suppliers are also creating designs with broader appeal for lines and brands that had projected largely regional or locale-specific perspectives. For example, Piemonte notes that some of the looks introduced for the Tommy Bahama line by Revman International during September 2012 N.Y. Market have been crafted “to get retailers to embrace that it isn’t just a regional brand,” she says. Several of the fashion bedding ensembles pair on-trend ikat and trellis elements with touches of typical tropical Tommy Bahama motifs to achieve that goal.

Everybody Is Looking For Something

In home textiles right now, it seems the “something” everybody’s looking for is brands—suppliers want an edge in creating designs that appeal to retailers; retailers want the consumer recognition and loyalty brands can offer.
Recently formed licensing partnerships include:

  • Named after the company founder, a skilled weaver who trekked to Oregon from England in 1863, the Thomas Kay Collection celebrates Pendleton Woolen Mill’s British roots. Rolled out during September N.Y. Market, a larger product range is set to debut in March 2013.
  • Soft-Tex joins Vicki Payne’s growing list of licensees with the For Your Home line of basic bedding distinguished by Allergen-Barrier Fabric.
  • HomTex debuted the Sheri Bodell Collection and soft-launched the Brooke Shields Home Collection, with a complete rollout slated for March 2013.
  • Revman International has signed a licensing agreement with Nautica Apparel, Inc., to manufacture and distribute Nautica bath towels, bath rugs, sheets and beach towels beginning in Spring 2013. The new lines will join bedding and bath programs already created by Revman for the Nautica brand.
  • C&F debuted artist Jan Callahan’s designs, drawn from original acrylics, on pillows and rugs.
  • Downlite launched offerings for its Stearns & Foster, Posturepedic with Primaloft and Sealy with Liquiloft lines during September N.Y. Market.
  • Baltic Linen introduced bath accessories from its Robin Wilson line, and previewed Andrea Bernstein’s Millworks brand, with plans for a full rollout of fashion beds, pillows and a bath line in March 2013.
  • Louis Hornick and Company, Inc. launched the Bel Air Collection of high-end fashion bedding, curtains and poolside accessories.
  • Ellison First Asia introduced home textiles for the long-running Field & Stream brand.
  • Look for the debut of a Monica Pedersen line from Softline Home Fashions in March 2013. Pedersen is an interior designer and HGTV host.
  • Bardwil Home will launch Isaac Mizrahi and Wolfgang Puck licensed lines in 2013.
  • Divatex announced its collaboration with Judy George and Kim Salmela on the Hotel Maison brand for fashion bedding and will debut product in March 2013.

Where Runway Meets Home

Los Angeles-based designer Sheri Bodell has been creating contemporary, edgy fashion apparel for more than 15 years. Her consumer customer is a woman on the go between 20 and 45 who loves the idea of living a jet-set life, but who also demands easy wear and season-less options. (Shown are houndstooth print dresses and a leather jacket by Bodell.)

Enter Travis Blackwood, president, branded home products division, HomTex, who contacted Bodell not long ago to translate her hip, modern aesthetic into a line of winning home fashions. The Sheri Bodell Collection was introduced with the Metal Mesh black-and-silver ensemble (shown) in the HomTex showroom during N.Y. Home Fashions Market in September.

“The home fashion line is timeless and not trendy. It has a glamorous appeal and rock-and-roll edge, but is classy and luxurious at an affordable value. It’s something I would love to sleep in,” Bodell explains. “I love to mix texture and that’s what it’s all about. It is designed to appeal to the same kind of customer who buys my fashion apparel.

“Designing the home fashions collection is breathing new life, new inspirations into what I do. I’ve always had a knack for interior design and remodeling,” Bodell reveals. “And in this line, I’m touching on something that no one’s doing.”

Design Trends: Color & Other Stories

During N.Y. Market in September, the design trends on view were largely extensions of motifs and techniques first shown in March 2012. However, the innovation lies in the refinement of those trends and the addition of bright, clean colors brings sophisticated design to home textiles in a modern, youthful way.
Here is a summary of the most popular looks:

Field & Stream Ellison First Asia recently debuted Field & Stream brand products, including this Denver Plaid in 100 percent yarn-dyed cotton. Pillows are adorned with printed motifs, embroidery and appliqué.
Millworks By Andrea Bernstein Designs for Andrea Bernstein’s Millworks line are based on her paintings inspired by nature and the beauty of color in the world around her. The Baltic Linen Company introduced its partnership with Andrea Bernstein and her Millworks brand during last month’s N.Y. Market. Bernstein believes she is filling a void in the marketplace with the colorful, modern Millworks designs. “For those seeking to furnish their first apartment, I feel there is not that much available,” she explains. “The world needs color, lightness and fun.” Look for the full rollout of bedding ensembles, pillows and a bath line in March 2013.
Bel Air Collection The high-end Bel-Air Collection from Louis Hornick & Co. debuted with a “hotel look” embroidered border design based on scrollwork from the Bel Air Gates and a matelassé featuring a repeated rose motif inspired by the Bel Air Gardens. Also featured in the line are draperies, bathrobes, slippers and spa towels.
For Your Home By Vicki Payne The collection from Soft-Tex is made with Allergen-Barrier fabric and cotton covers in 300- and 400-thread count. The For Your Home Collection, which pairs performance with fashion appeal, features quilted cover designs drawn from patterns, such as Greek Key, in Vicki Payne’s fabric line. Details include cord edges that match back to collection colors. The Allergen Barrier fabric features a weave that is anti-dust mite and anti-microbial within.
Paisleys Prevail Paisleys in all colors and sizes are still enhancing home fashions. Azura is from Raymond Waites and debuted during N.Y. Home Fashions Market.
Color-Refreshed Classics Bright, fresh colors update classic patterns, as seen in Adelle from Eastern Accents’ de’Medici line of fine Italian linens.
Authentically U.S. Pendleton Woolen Mills not only manufactures products in the U.S., but also offers American-inspired designs. The Chief Joseph Jacquard Robes bear motifs from Pendleton’s oldest blanket patterns rich with Native American inspiration and created in the 1920s.
Capitalizing On Cachet Calderia UK Ltd. celebrates its British heritage with Union Jack pillows and cushions.
 

Anniversary Celebration

LDB Interior Textiles celebrates its 85th anniversary this year. To help mark the occasion, we’ve asked a sampling of companies also celebrating significant anniversaries to share a few insights on their histories.
Manual Woodworkers & Weavers Inc.

“Manual Woodworkers and Weavers was founded in 1932 by Tom and Queenie Oates. It began as a souvenir company providing wooden souvenirs to the National Parks and tourist shops across the United States. The company expanded to include local crafts through a cottage-industry endeavor, such as brooms, bonnets and hand-crafted rugs,” explains Molly Oates Sherrill, co-owner, Manual Woodworkers & Weavers Inc.

“In 1986, Manual debuted its cotton throw at the Gatlinburg Souvenir Show and it was a huge success,” says Sherrill. “That provided the catalyst that led to the opening of our own textile mill.”

Versailles Home Fashions Inc.
“Versailles was incorporated in 1987. The company began by selling wooden drapery hardware components, which were acquired from the buyout of those commodities from firstly, Gauvreau Beaudry and a year later, the purchase of similar wooden products from Draco Co.,” says Robert W. Gibbons, president, Versailles Home Fashions Inc./Rosedale Draperies, who notes that the most memorable turning point the company has experienced is reaching its 25th anniversary this year.

Kas Rugs, Inc.
“Kas was started in 1981 by Rao Yarlagadda and his wife, Kas, as a small importer of Indian dhurries,” says Wendy Reiss, national key accounts manager of sales and marketing, Kas Rugs, Inc. “In fact, the first collection was called Kasduri and we have a collection of flatweave dhurries called that today!

“It is nice that, after 30+ years, the company still is family owned and operated, and continues to function under the same value system as it started…even as it has developed and grown,” says Reiss.

Lenzing Fibers
Lenzing Fibers’ roots reach back to 1892 when industrialist Emil Hamburger operated a paper mill in Lenzing, Austria. In 1938, Zellwolle Lenzing AG was founded and the production of pulp and viscose fibers was begun.
Lenzing is known for its dedication to environmental protection. As early as 1963, the company adopted an environment-friendly magnesium bisulphate production method. By 1974, an environmental department was established and three years later, an environment-friendly pulp bleaching method was launched.

The company name changed to Lenzing AG in 1992. Today, Lenzing fibers, which include Modal, Micro-Modal, Tencel, Lyocell and Lenzing Modal Edelweiss, are used worldwide in home fashions, apparel and a variety of other applications.

Though there are still truly traditional styles available, the trend is toward using traditional motifs—such as scrolls, florals, and geometric patterns drawn from architectural elements—and rendering them in fresh, bright colors and large-scale sizes to create designs with appeal for those interested in contemporary as well as transitional styles.

Ikat interpretations are the soft-home goods counterparts of the long-lasting trend toward stainless steel appliances in the kitchen—the popularity continues. Other dominant concepts carried over from Spring N.Y. Market include chevrons, paisleys, latticework, patchwork designs, tribal inspirations, ethnic-inspired medallions and animal prints with a twist.

Regarding embellishments, texture remains center stage, created with materials or stitching techniques. Even traditional styles show restraint when it comes to the number and size of tassels and trims. However, bling is present, but in a sophisticated, luxe way—hints of metallic threads, scatterings of sequins or crystals.
The presence of dimensionality achieved with innovative printing and jacquard techniques has grown in popularity. Linen and faux linen remain mainstream choices. Watercolor looks achieved via digital printing and realistic florals created with digital photography are more widespread.

The most refreshing story involves color—bright, crisp, “youthful” colors have made it into the master bedroom, the living room and dining room in a big way, perhaps in response to consumers’ anti-recession cravings for all things upbeat, as well as to appeal to the growing numbers of younger shoppers born after the Baby Boomer generation.

Grey remains a strong neutral, now paired with softer colors and not the strong brights seen earlier this year.
The speed with which information flows today due to available technologies has also contributed to eliminating lag time between apparel and home fashions when it comes to the transference of trends. It means home fashions suppliers and designers need to be on top of and act quickly on design trends to capture the attention of today’s savvy consumers.

Issues At Home & Abroad

The U.S. economy is inching its way back to stability and there are signs that manufacturing in Asia is losing some of its competitive edge, opening the door for the growth of homeland production and export to foreign lands. But the U.S. home textiles industry isn’t out of the woods yet.

“The biggest challenge in the industry is a cultural challenge,” says Joe Barkley, executive vice-president, Kaleen. “The consumer fears the unknown and what the future will bring due to the unstable and weakened economy.

“I’m optimistic moving forward because although there are highs and lows, the lows are not as low as they used to be, and the number of highs are beginning to overtake the number of lows,” he says.

“Weaker retailers have fallen away, so the ones who are left are strong partners. The industry has been fractured, but there was less consolidation than anticipated. There are still too many importers and in the future, I believe we will to go back to the consolidation trend that started in 2005-6,” Barkley concludes.

Andrea Bernstein, owner, Millworks, is optimistic about more “made in U.S.” opportunities arising in home textiles. “There are retailers today who don’t want to wait 16 weeks for product from overseas or who don’t want to deal directly with factories. They are willing to pay more for four-, six- or eight-week delivery and have it made nearby in the U.S.

“The apparel industry in Los Angeles is jamming,” she says. “Some of our fabric suppliers here have topped out as far as how much production they can handle. There is a lot of domestic production going on here. It hasn’t all trickled down to home textiles yet, but I believe it will.”

Other opportunities for savvy U.S. suppliers may be on the rise as global tides churn and turn.

Challenges & Opportunities Abroad

There’s a crisis afoot in Europe. Questions have surfaced as to whether or not the Euro currency system should be continued. Because the 17 European countries in the Eurozone monetary system are bound by uniform interest rates and currency valuations, if one country fails financially, such as Greece, it affects the stability and standing of the others.

“The economic situation is much worse in Europe than in the U.S.,” says Tony Caldeira, managing director, Caldeira UK Ltd. He notes that European textile manufacturers are largely based in Portugal, Spain and Italy, which have struggling economies. Their business eroded as less expensive Chinese manufacturing flourished and now the over-valued Euro has encouraged uncompetitive pricing, placing their futures in further jeopardy. The economic crisis in Europe should be a forewarning to the U.S., which is teetering on the edge of its own fiscal “cliffs.”

“The U.S. needs to get its debt under control,” says Caldeira. “Will the U.S. currency be devalued after the presidential election?”

Caldeira notes that some European businesses are seeking to ease financial struggles by increasing exports out of Europe and he urges U.S. companies to sell beyond their own borders.

“There are not enough American companies exporting. ‘Made in USA’ has cachet abroad, as does ‘Made in UK’,” Caldeira says. “The new Chinese middle class, for example, doesn’t want to buy Chinese goods. They want goods representing our lifestyles now.

“Prices for goods made in China and India are rising. The tide has turned as far as how much it costs and there is opportunity for us to compete on a global scale,” Caldeira says. Caldeira UK Ltd. owns factories in the U.K. and China.

“Right now,” says Caldeira, “it costs us the same to produce products in the U.K. with Chinese fabrics as it does to produce completely in China. So look outwards. Go get [the business] and grow it.”

Innovation & Evolution

Innovations have been shaping the evolution of home textiles throughout history. In celebration of LDB Interior Textiles’ 85th annivesary, here are some industry highlights:

1920s: WestPoint Pepperell introduces the first color-fast pastel sheets. Traditional designs are the industry’s “meat and potatoes.” Cannon introduces the first reversible terry towel.

1930s: The Great Depression dominates. Shower curtains are the rage as newly built homes incorporate showers. Du Pont unveils nylon.

1940s: Material scarcities and government sanctions during World War II open the door to later product developments, such as no-iron sheets. Wanamaker’s presents coordinated bath ensembles.

1950s: Suburban shopping centers are born. The first kitchen terry towel is introduced. Bardwil debuts permanent-press tablecloths. Du Pont Dacron polyester appears in the first commercial use.

1960s: New materials and manufacturing methods develop. Discount stores take root. Springs introduces the Bill Blass designer collection.

1970s: Standards are created for labeling, advertising and product safety. Improved dyeing and printing introduce color in a big way. Licensing begins with ready-to-wear designers.

1980s: The buying power of the Baby Boomer generation is recognized. Discounters grow and department stores lose market share. Retailers create room settings around products for sale. Direct mail catalogs boom.

1990s: The recession spawns “cocooning,” with consumers investing in their homes. Environmental concerns lead to low-impact dyes and greater use of natural fibers. Technology offers inventory management software. International trade barriers are reduced. Internet sites blossom. The Home Fashions Product Association celebrates 50 years.

2000s: E-commerce impacts the brick-and-mortar landscape. The recession leads to attrition and consolidation. Technologies offer increased product value at affordable prices. Overseas manufacturing peaks.
2010s: Social media and mobile technologies influence marketing and pricing. Economies abroad influence domestic pricing and supply chains. Recession recovery sparks national pride in goods “Made in USA.”

Resources


LDB INTERIOR TEXTILES is published by EW Williams Publications Company
Phone: 1-201- 592-7007 Fax: 1-212-988-0588