Exhibitors present fabric smorgasbord
Cindy W. Hodnett -- Furniture Today, December 20, 2013
HIGH POINT - The weather, the calendar and travel delays challenged Showtime participants, but despite drizzly, gray skies, the biannual textile show here was a scene of renewed optimism.
Along with introductions that continue to showcase unique design innovation, Showtime visitors enjoyed the benefit of a rising tide in the furniture market.
"Given the challenges of this year's calendar - with a late Thanksgiving and an early spring market - we're pleasantly surprised by the attendance," said Catherine Morsell, executive director of the International Textile Market Assn. "Five Brazilian tanneries joined us this time around, and we're becoming the premier leather trade show in the U.S. We have been working with the tanneries for more than a year to make this happen, and we expect the numbers to continue to grow."
Apucarna Leather was one of the new leather exhibitors from Brazil. An official with the company said that buyers were responding to the bio-leather, produced with "no heavy chemicals." The pieces are welded together, are available in 10-meter rolls, contain no synthetics and ship in 30 days, according to the representative.
Although a number of buyers were delayed by the winter storm that started in Texas and traveled eastward, many of the showrooms in Market Square had better than expected traffic. Cathy Smith, director of product management for De Leo Textiles, said appointments were up considerably.
"We were completely booked 100% in all four showrooms for two days, and more than 70% booked on Sunday and Wednesday," Smith said. "We offer clarity of design that shows we're willing to break the rules, take things apart and look at classic patterns with new eyes."
Exhibitors in the Suites at Market Square presented a smorgasbord of colors and fabrics. Variations on Pantone's recently announced 2014 color of the year - Radiant Orchid - were on display in just about every booth or showroom, along with peacock and cobalt, updated skin patterns and hundreds of geometrics.
Bella-Dura introduced 20 new patterns at Showtime, including Lewitt. A neutral base defined by striking texture, Lewitt is priced at $17.95.
"It's a pleat construction that is woven into the fabric, so you don't lose the pleat," said Sarah Keelen, senior stylist for the company.
Patara Silks continued a tradition of richly embellished fabric offerings. One of the strongest introductions was a sheer ivory silk adorned with beading.
"We still have a strong market for traditional," said Patara's Pat Sharpey. "I think we're also one of the only companies here that is showing beading, and we're seeing a lot of interest in it."
Ramtex showed new cut velvet introductions and several new neutrals. Creative Director Melissa Andersson said the company focused on a "lot of pattern on pattern" and on new prints for Showtime.
"We're showing several burn-out velvets and as always, a lot of bold colors," Andersson said. "It's not really about following trends for us. Instead, we try to have something to offer everyone."
Phifer representatives said response was strong to GeoBella, the company's line of performance fabrics. Described as eco friendly fabric made from post-industrial waste, GeoBella is cleanable with soap and water and is fade-resistant.
"People want outdoor performance indoors," said Joan Worthy, a sales representative for the company's Designed Fabrics division. "We have the durability and the color story."
Swavelle/Mill Creek Fabric President Richard Hanfling said the company had "great, consistent traffic in the showroom." Swavelle introduced 100 new SKUs and 20 new patterns at Showtime, including the Olde Mill collection and new patterns from celebrity designer Nate Berkus.
"Olde Mill is our newest division and focuses on textures, weaves and plains," said Hanfling. "It is in the $4.50-$6.50 price range."
Along with offering the first look at new introductions, Showtime was also a social media topic of discussion. In addition to regular updates by ITMA staff members on Facebook and Twitter, five bloggers were invited to the show to post their reactions to showrooms and new introductions. Morsell said the bloggers - Ronda Rice Carmen, Tamara Matthews- Stephenson, Traci Zeller, John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon of Madcap Cottage and Marisa Marcantonio - are part of an expanding marketing strategy for Showtime.
"Three of the bloggers are from New York, one is from Dallas and one is from Charlotte," she said. "Their understanding of the High Point Market and the home furnishings industry is invaluable, and they're helping the consumer make educated choices with their observations."
The Suites at Market Square also included a color trends exhibit. Designed by students from High Point University who used yarns to illustrate hue preferences, the exhibit highlighted Showtime's color overview and included three-dimensional representation of Savory Spices, Cool Cobalt, Sunny Saffron, Peacock Plume, Captivating Coral and Rich Russet. The collaboration between ITMA and High Point University is a win-win situation for the association and the students, according to Morsell.
"With what we do, we have a valuable platform of exposure," she said. "We try to be cognizant of our show as a platform and to give an opportunity for exposure where we can."
More than 200 exhibitors from 20 countries attended the show, including 19 new and returning ITMA members.
"Out of a healthy furniture market comes a healthy Showtime," Morsell said. "Many companies are returning as members that we haven't seen in a while."
Vallila Interior, based in Helsinki, Finland, was a first-time exhibitor at Showtime and introduced a collection of bright prints.
Brazil’s Apucarana Leather showed an eco-friendly leather line in dozens of vibrant colors.
De Leo Textiles introduced Gustav, a cut velvet fabric with bright and neutral colorways.
Vision Fabrics showed a range of soft purples paired with neutrals, a hue reinforced by Pantone’s announcement of Radiant Orchid as the 2014 color of the year.
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