Showtime lures buyers
Retail Editor 2 -- Furniture Today, December 13, 2012
HIGH POINT - Beauty and brawn were complementary companions at last week's Showtime fabric show here.
Many suppliers introduced performance fabric collections during the four-day event that attracted buyers with a touch friendly texture, while others showcased new interpretations of vintage fabrics and traditional classics.
"Buyers look to us for mid to- better end bodycloths," said Gil Tavares, vice president of sales for Regal Fabrics, a company that showed a line of bodycloths in the $3.50 to $8.95 price points. "This show, we've brought in a diverse selection of textures in cotton linen from Italy."
Along with the range of linens, Regal introduced several fabrics that Tavares described as "rough-hewn." On the opposite end of the touch-and-feel spectrum, Regal showed a rainbow of velvet- inspired fabrics as well as intricately embroidered samples that pay homage to vintage luxury.
"We're really getting involved in embroidery through a lot of special projects," Tavares said. "We can take people's artwork and recreate any design they like."
Swavelle Mill Creek Fabric introduced the Nate Berkus collection. Originally set to be a 60-piece introduction, the collection grew to 100 SKUs to incorporate designer Berkus' specifications.
"This collection covers Nate's aesthetics and is very deep," said Greg Thomases, vice president for Swavelle. "Nate saw every pattern and color many, many times, and it is his point of view. He creates his own trends and definitely can affect people and the trends they buy."
Valdese Weavers created a fashion-centric trends hallway adjacent to several of the company's fabric galleries, modeled after rooms of the home. In the parlor gallery, red flame stitch contrasted with peacock blue - a glimpse at Valdese's spring trends of blues, particularly cobalt and lapis combined with turquoise and indigo - mixed with the burgundy family of deep, rich reds like wine, oxblood, berry and aubergine. Emerald green represented two additional spring trends - a light-to-dark green color spectrum story as well as the reemergence of rich, jewel tones.
The Valdese showrooms featured numerous fabrics in berry, purple and gold colorways, along with Missoni-inspired and globally inspired patterns. Wesley Mancini was celebrating his 30th anniversary with Valdese, and the iconic fabric designer spoke about his new introductions.
"We are in a much more transitional market, and anything slightly traditional has to have a hipness to it," Mancini said. "We also use a blind studio test on our fabrics - if you can close your eyes and feel it, it's good."
Covington Fabric & Design has been producing fabric since the 1940s. The company sources internationally from China, India and Europe but warehouses in South Carolina, which it says ensures an expedient shipping schedule.
"Unlike a lot of companies, we are not a niche player and have a very diverse line," said Thomas Bruno, vice president of sales for Covington. "We have a huge selection of solids and extra-deep color lines, some with 70 SKUs. We build our woven collection around our prints."
Covington prices reflect the diversity of the line. Beginning at $8.95 and going up to $24.95, the fabrics in stock are shipped within 48 hours of order.
"For the past few seasons, we have been building our brand through lifestyle," Bruno said. "Ethnic, menswear and coastal continue to do well along with our linens. We always offer a wide range of prints as well."
"We are also printing on more textures now," added Greg Tarver, president and CEO of Covington. "We stock fashion colors along with traditional with the same support."
Tarver said Covington Outdoor, the company's performance collection, was well placed. Produced in Mexico, the collection includes 48 SKUs under $9 and is bleach cleanable and fade-resistant for 2,000 light hours.
"The collection is mix and- match, solution-dyed outdoor fabric," Tarver said. "And Mexico offers the logis tics of speed to market."
Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, manufacturer of Sunbrella, introduced 230 SKUs at Showtime along with new colors including blush, iris, chestnut and bright white. The company has developed nine new yarn colors in the past 24 months, along with Iris, a soft, muted fabric in spring's must-have purple family.
Sunbrella is also producing woven-to-order coordinated groupings. The Splash, Daybreak, Vitality, Retreat and Aurora groups feature blues, berry, beige and gold. Updated hound's-tooth patterns and small-scale ribbed weaves were also featured at Showtime, in addition to the Renaissance and Heritage collections that are part of Sunbrella's commitment to recycling.
The talent of fabric designers was on display in every space at Showtime, but attendees also enjoyed the designers' artistic capabilities in an unconventional format. As part of an auction to raise funds for the International Textile Marketing Assn. Foundation, original art on dinner plates was created by the fabric designers and auctioned during the ITMA cocktail party.
"We support students and educators throughout the country," said Catherine Morsell, executive director of ITMA. "It is important to keep an interest in careers and a fresh flow of creative talent in our industry. We sponsor interns, tours and competitions throughout the year."
The auction raised $1,000 and the highest bid was $140 for a holiday-themed Grinch plate. Morsell hopes to replicate the event in some way at every Showtime.
"Next time, we may do platters," she said. "This year's event sparked much interest from designers who did not participate and we expect to see their designs next year. All who participated are excited about entering again next year."
Morgan Fabrics showcased the diversity of its line ranging from teal to berry and apple green on a three-dimensional pillow display.
Sunbrella showed key color trends with a Heritage bodycloth in gray, accented by pillows with purple and berry hues.
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