Upholstery steps out in fashion
Larry Thomas -- Furniture Today, November 8, 2012
HIGH POINT - Fashion forward style translated into positive results in many upholstery showrooms during the October High Point Market.
The importance of understanding how fashion inspires the female consumer has begun to permeate product design throughout the furniture industry, and style trends were seen at every level from promotional to high-end.
As on the runway in New York, color was a key focus in showrooms and resulted into strong order activity, a number of exhibitors said.
"We had our best market ever - record breaking by far," said Meredith Younger Spell, president of upholstery producer Younger Furniture. "Attendance was up 40% from our previous best market and order writing was more than double what it normally is. We showed more color in our showroom than ever before and customers loved it! They were craving color and fresh looks for their floor."
The best-selling sofa for Bradington-Young was covered in Brilliant Blue leather. Sandi Teague, director of merchandising for Hooker Furniture Upholstery, said the company made a conscious effort to include more color after following apparel color trends in fabric and leather.
"The most popular color was blue, from teal to cobalt," Teague said. "Orange and lilac/plum also performed well, typically when grounded with a strong neutral like gray or white. Patterns were vibrant and energetic in the vein of Italian fashion house Missoni.
"Color makes people happy, and it can encourage a purchase by tapping those emotions," she said. "We believe that manufacturers, retailers and consumers are all embracing color."
Michael Thomas also scored a hit with buyers with an off-white sofa trimmed with blue welting and a vibrant blue, cream and taupe skirt. The sofa retails for $3,999.
"It just ‘popped,'" said Thomas Jordan, president of Michael Thomas, about the color-accented sofa. "It wasn't old-school traditional, but also wasn't too transitional for the traditional shopper."
Southern Seating's first High Point Market showroom featured vibrant reds, yellows and the occasional apple green to attract dealers. The company's Virgil Henry said he was pleased with the orders received on two popular color groupings, one featuring Paprika fabric.
"We wanted to show new and fresh colors, not browns and beiges," Henry said. "The consumer is tired of all the brown and ready for color done tastefully."
Jeff Katz, vice president of product development for upholstery at Emerald Home Furnishings, said the company is bringing more style, color and fashion into its line and that the inclusion translated into strong order activity compared with recent markets.
"Some of the colors that have been influenced by trends in fashion that made appearances and had great reactions included apple green, as we showed on the Jessie chair and the Carlton sofa, spice colors, tangerines and spa blues," Katz said. "Consumers are seeing vibrant colors and bold patterns on the furniture featured in magazines and on their favorite television shows and are then asking for it from retailers, who are also looking for colors to spice up their showrooms."
Along with the color soaked products, one of Emerald's best sellers at market was the Rayanna sofa, the company's interpretation of a smaller-scale, contemporary piece. That highlighted another style trend at market - product that works in the limited square footage of an urban residence.
Klaussner's Audrina, a compact sofa shown in an avocado- apple green fabric that has significant visual punch, was a top placement, according to company officials, and Craftmaster did well with its introduction of the Urban Elements collection. Craftmaster has historically offered traditional furniture, and the addition of the contemporary line is a new style direction.
"With the introduction of Urban Elements, Craftmaster is now positioned as a more fashion-forward company," said company President Roy Calcagne. "We have seen this category explode over the past few years and had to address it with a comprehensive presentation. We recreated a 3,000-square-foot retail environment to showcase the new collection, and it really connected with our dealers. They loved the products, the showroom design and the great accessories that completed the look."
Lazar's BKind3 collection is a "significant part of our market," according to company President Rob Luce. The smaller scale pieces have a mid-century modern flavor, and Luce said the collection has been well received.
"We gave the collection its own space at market and buyers responded," he said. "The program really works for us and I think it fills a void."
Lazar showed BKind3 and product from other collections in vignettes that included a new line of rugs. Luce said the layout of the showroom highlighted the individuality of the Lazar introductions and the rugs tied everything together for retailers.
"We had several respected, well-known retailers tell us that the showroom was exciting," he said. "They like that they can buy the products and put them on the floor just like we have it displayed."
Massoud’s modern interpretation of a shelter sofa features Lucite legs, clean lines and distinctive color. The piece was one of the company’s top five sellers at market.
A rainbow of bright hues in chair and sofa introductions attracted a record number of buyers to Younger Furniture.
Blue was the hue at market, and it was shown in shades ranging from peacock to denim. This Michael Thomas sofa incorporates the color in welting and in the Distortion fabric of the skirt.
The Rayanna sofa was a big hit for Emerald Home Furnishings and attracted dealers looking for smaller-scale upholstery items that work in urban settings.
|This accent chair from Design
9 is color-saturated, but white
welting adds an unexpected
|Lazar’s Flamingo sofa was a top seller and
featured clean, modern lines punctuated by
bright accent pillows.|
Luce said the company wrote 150% more business than it had at any market in the past seven years, while showing fewer products.
"Retailers were ready for something fresh and new and ready to try new products," he said. "This market was a major step forward for our company, and I think it's going to help us turn 2013 into something really special."
Massoud Furniture also saw positive results with a piece designed for the urban client. The Verbatim sofa was one of the company's best sellers at market and showcased distinctive Lucite legs, jade green hues and a small-scale frame.
"People live differently in the city," said Ronna Griest, creative director for Massoud. "This sofa is a new frame for us and makes a crisp, edgy statement, but it isn't so edgy that people didn't get it. It was one of our top five sellers."
The Verbatim sofa's success reinforced Griest's assertion that urban style doesn't have to mean the same thing in every setting.
"So many urban pieces are colorless," she said. "We went into layers of color, a warmer depth of color and had excellent response to it. Massoud is a 50-year-old company and has always made a wonderful product; now, we are going down new paths and bringing our customers with us. This sofa brought our existing clients in and also attracted new ones. It's the best of both worlds."
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