Fabric suppliers hopeful
Cindy W. Hodnett -- Furniture Today, December 3, 2012
HIGH POINT - If fabric suppliers are a business barometer for the furniture industry, then 2013 is shaping up to be a very good year.
In addition to domestic suppliers, new international companies are exhibiting at this week at Showtime, High Point's semiannual fabric show. Catherine Morsell, executive director of show organizer the International Textile Market Assn., said there will be 5.5% more exhibitors than at last December's event, and thinks the increased participation is a positive development for the industry.
"We're seeing a lot of members come back to ITMA, and we're excited about the renewed interest because that's a great sign for business in general," Morsell said. "We also have new suppliers coming to Showtime from Spain and China, and we're working with each mill individually to help them understand the U.S. market. Business is different than it used to be, and everyone is trying to find what works for them, but there is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement."
Fabric suppliers are showing a variety of textures and patterns at Showtime, and oversized botanicals, stripes in a rainbow of colors and endless companions to gray - including raspberry tones and all shades of purple - are a few of the style themes. Linen remains important, but several fabric suppliers are also seeing renewed interest in classics like velvet and prints.
"There has been a shift in solid bodycloths to linen and linen-blend ‘flat' wovens over the last two years, cutting into the chenille, velvet and faux suede categories at all price points," said Cathy Smith, the director of merchandising and design for De Leo Textiles. "But I do believe velvet is coming on again, and a large part of the market still looks to chenille for comfortable bodycloths.
"Prints are also coming back to furniture, and it is our continuing challenge to develop the same multicolor looks in jacquard wovens," Smith said. "Ten years ago, prints struggled, but now bright colors and multiple colors within a single colorway are important, and prints are a way to fill that - no longer do they have a low-end connotation."
Linen continues to be a strong seller at P/Kaufmann, according to National Sales Manager Bob Patton. He added that the emergence of gray as a neutral has influenced fabric's color spectrum.
"For us, it is all about linen," Patton said. "Plains, plaids, stripes and printed linen are all selling. Wovens are still out selling prints as people use woven as the base for sofas and use prints as chairs and pillow fabrics. Our ratio in furniture is about 70% wovens and 30% prints.
"We have seen a softening of colors - blues, browns, greens and reds that complement gray," he added. "But we have not abandoned the bright colors that also work well with gray."
Keystone Weaving Mills is showing four collections - Cottage Couture, Global Perspectives, Club Nouveau and Natural Selections. The Pennsylvania-based company started in apparel in 1930 and introduced an upholstery line four years ago.
"We're introducing 90 new patterns this time, and probably 80% of our line is in the $4 to $12 category," said Ray McKinnon, sales and merchandising director for Keystone. "We'll also introduce four or five patterns that we call ‘Showstoppers.' These are large and impactful and use practically every yarn we have. They are almost like artwork.
"Gray is one of the most popular neutral colors right now, and we're showing accent colors including different shades of purple, bright pops of blue and soft reds. Keystone started out with natural yarns, but we have evolved and we do a lot of colors now."
Geometrics and stripes are also well represented in the new fabric introductions. P/Kaufmann and De Leo have several distinctive stripes debuting at Showtime, and Marcovaldo is showing stripes in rich jewel tones and a variety of textures. High-end supplier MDS Fabric is showing crewel hand-embroidered fabrics at $37 per yard, an ikat for $9 and a hand-block printed kalamkari for $9.
"Our goal at MDS has always been to revive the hand-made textiles segment in India by eliminating the problems that have plagued the artisans and craftsmen in the supply chain," said Sunil Eamani, owner of MDS. "We do this by pairing their traditional skills with international textile designers."
Swavelle/Mill Creek Fabrics is introducing 104 SKUs in the new Nate Berkus collection. Featuring print, drapery and woven upholstery fabrics, the collection by designer Berkus is the first licensed introduction for Swavelle in more than a decade.
|Morgan Fabrics is introducing Liv, a large-scale, multicolor
interpretation of a skin print.
|Oversized botanicals like P/Kaufmann’s leaf print are
prominent in many introductions.
"Nate has created an enticing collection that will appeal to both those who are seeking beautiful, traditional looks as well as to the young homeowner who wishes to be surrounded with new and unique designs without compromising on luxury," said Richard Hanfling, president of Swavelle/Mill Creek.
Greg Thomases, the company's vice president, said the Berkus line "is a very diverse collection. It is set up in color stories, and the aesthetic is texture, color and design."
The collection includes geometrics, stripes and globally inspired prints. The global influence continues to make a strong showing, and suzani and ikat patterns are featured in many spring collections, including introductions by Morgan Fabrics.
Morgan shows three key trends with Liv, Squares-ville and Dhurrie. Squares-ville is a geometric with a distinctive hand- painted effect, and Dhurrie is a large-scale ikat on a linen-look base. Liv pays homage to animal prints with a multicolor, almost impressionistic flair, providing a modernized interpretation of a perennial favorite currently on the upswing.
Phifer is a new exhibitor at Showtime and is introducing a canvas collection available in 20 solids and 10 coordinating stripes. Representatives of the company said the collection is inspired by mattress ticking and burlap, but with a "beautiful texture and soft touch."
Phifer's canvas collection underscores another key trend for fabric - the importance of performance fabrics for interior applications. Sunbrella is one of the best-known performance fabrics, and Glen Raven Custom Fabrics' Greg Rosendale said the category continues to expand.
"The performance fabrics aren't a part-time job for us," Rosendale said. "We have the understanding of how to be a true interior fabric vendor by hiring designers who understand the synergy between indoor and outdoor spaces. This is an important category to manufacturers and very important to the residential market. Everyone loves a lot of windows in their home, and UV stability is the cornerstone of the brand promise."