Can brown, gray play well together?
Gary Evans -- Furniture Today, December 12, 2011
HIGH POINT - Cleaner neutrals and the continuing shift to a gray palette are trends fabric mill executives see for upholstered furniture as the International Textiles Market Assn.'s Showtime gets under way here this week.
Gray has dominated the market lately as a base cloth with various subtleties that range from deep slate to a light smoky shade. Upholstery manufacturers like the color as an anchor for brighter and bolder accent shades such as turquoise, cranberry, purple, honeysuckle and orange.
While the industry complains about the "sea of brown" that dominates furniture floors, consumers clearly prefer it over other colors, as a Furniture/Today-HGTV survey confirmed earlier this year. How can the two be reconciled?
Furniture/Today recently asked fabric mill executives to share their thoughts.
Laura Levinson, senior vice president product development and design, Circa 1801:
" While neutrals are still our highest placed colors, we are seeing a shift at the decorative end of the market. The neutrals we are selling are now cleaner and include a range of gray based on the recent popularity of linen. Our whites and beiges are clean and crisp, which work nicely with all the bright accent colors. We also see a trend toward gray browns and mink browns. The brassy golds and bronzes are now replaced with beautiful copper and cognac colors. While the shifts are subtle, they are paramount to the fabric world."
Michael R. Durham, president and CEO, Se7en USA:
"While it is still early to know what our customers sold well at the October market, Se7en has received floor sample orders from several customers that look promising. The trends from wh at has been purchased appear to be transitional to contemporary in style and I would see that trend from our customers continuing. Most consumers that might be ‘traditional' appear to be selecting more relaxed styling and structures. There was a huge pendulum swing away from textural bodies toward flat woven plains with more luster."
As far as the consumer preference for brown, Durham said, "As the saying goes, ‘The customer is always right.' The way to make most, but not everyone, happy is to offer packages of fabrics that work with the brown family of body cloths. This can be done with not only a variety of correlate fabrics with different colors, but these ‘go-withs' could be offered across a variety of style categories. Of course, while Se7en offers packages that work with the sea of browns, we continually provide more fashion-forward color family ranges that are seen at others areas of retail that influence the consumer."
Sean Gibbons, CEO, STI
"One of the main trends we see right now is a move to flat fabrics (non-chenille) at all levels of the market. We continue to innovate with new yarns that we make at STI to fill the increasing demand for these types of fabrics. Chenille remains a large/import category, but flat fabrics are selling and retailers are looking to add more to their floors. The biggest color trend is gray. Gray is the new brown and we are selling in colors ranging from dark charcoal to light cement."
But Gibbons adds, "Midtone brown is our biggest selling color. We also continue to sell chocolate. This isn't going away any time soon, so why fight it? The fact is people are comfortable with brown."
Bob Patton, national sales manager, furniture, P. Kaufmann (also president of the ITMA):
Based on what sold well at the October High Point Market, Patton said there "appeared to be a lot of gray ... gray combined with yolk (yellow) and gray combined with lilac, lavender. Gray appears to be the new beige/brown/tan."
But brown hasn't been dethroned, he says. "Color seems to be used like jewelry and is used on accent pillows and chairs. The industry still is very safe and always falls back on solids in a sea of brown and beige."
Zack Taylor, vice president sales and marketing, Valdese Weavers:
"The market-wide preference for transitional pattern, color and texture continues. Soft grays and linen shades are the mainstay of neutral base color. Charcoal, orange, lavender and teal are at the forefront of accent shades.
"We bridge the worlds of colors and neutrals in most of our multicolored jaquards. Valdese Weavers' Reminiscing fabric demonstrates a combination of a linen ground with many of today's dominant accent shades - raspberry, guava and teal. Pattern Knighton - Laurel by Wesley Mancini for Home Fabrics (a Valdese brand) combines a cocoa ground with linen, pear and teal accents. Our verticality in dyeing allows us to stay in the forefront of color trends and versatility."
Michael Day, vice president, Textile Fabric Associates
"While at market in October, we saw lots of color, finally, hitting the marketplace again. The same old oatmeal has been replaced by bright pinks, blues and violets."
Day said "there's always a happy medium" in consumers' love of brown. "Within the sea of browns, (when) adding pops of color such as pink, berries and sea greens, both the chocolate tones and the pops of color can coexist. In Paris and London during the fall, many of the storefronts and window scapes displayed these types of color schemes."
Walter Rothschild, president, David Rothschild Co.
"We see more interest in patterns and purer colors. Warm colors, such as flavors of red, rust and persimmon, seem to be picking up strength. Natural linen looks continue to be a trend, but they are now mixed with a variety of clean colors."
Donna Marecle, president, Gum Tree Fabrics
"While we have been most successful supporting mid-tier manufacturers with high volume basics, our Kim Grimsley brand embellishes high style sophisticated designs and color. Kim's introduction of her platinum collection juxtaposing taupes, creams and pewters has been very well received. Kim's 2012 focus will be clean color palettes to include metallic and pearlized tones in the mix. Encompassing these trends in combination with unique textures, yarns and high style body cloths will support customer feedback from last season and allow us to add another tier to our customer base."
Gray continues to reign: "We have been most successful with our gray color palette. Gray, referred to as ‘the new brown,' is a great alternative neutral and blends well with many accent colors. Great combinations and colorful accents will please consumers.
Se7en’s Majesty, in striking black and white, is 40% cotton, 31% polyester and 29% acrylic, at $15.95 per yard.
Dicey’s Spirograph Delft capitalizes on the industry’s love of anything blue and sells for $8.95 per yard.
|Regal’s new patterns at Showtime include, from left, Landry
Black, a tossed floral paisley on a puckered ground in 100%
polyester, available in three colors; Hemingway Tropic, a
jacquard in 60% cotton, 25% polyester and 15% rayon,
available in six colors; Suzette Black, a bold Suzani design
jacquard in 60% cotton, 25% polyester and 15% rayon,
available in six colors; and Larkin Black: Missoni zigzag design in
100% polyester, available in three colors.|
Gum Tree’s Sumatra, a pattern by Kim Grimsley Design, is $12.95 per yard.
|Wesley Mancini’s Knighton, a multicolored jacquard, is
inspired by a contemporized Central Asian embroidery motif
and is 68% rayon and 32% polyester. Priced at $18 per yard.|