Housing fuels hope

Showtime exhibitors expect strong finish to 2016

HIGH POINT — Real estate activity was a popular topic of discussion at last week’s Showtime textile market, and despite a first quarter described by several vendors as “soft,” fabric suppliers are expecting a strong second half of the year.

New homeowners buy furniture, and Showtime exhibitors said that recent increases in residential construction numbers will likely boost sales. As measured by appointments and sample requests, the summer show was successful, and the almost unanimous conclusion was that buyers came looking for value, trends and “that little something extra.”

Se7en’s industrial chic aesthetic helped the company cinch the Best Showroom award for Showtime June 2016. Se7en’s
Algemene’s Algemene’s Milonga featured a strong Art Deco influence.
Keystone Weaving’s theme attracted buyers with a mix of layered neutrals in soft hues and referenced “casual luxury and sophistication,” according to Ray McKinnon, vice president. Keystone Weaving’s

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, housing starts in April increased more than previously expected as builders moved ahead on single and multifamily homes. Those future homeowners are likely to buy furniture, and Showtime vendors brought their A-game in introductions to accommodate consumers demanding customization options.

“We have had regular and new customers — designers, retailers and furniture manufacturers,” said Ismail Arslan, vice president of business development for De Leo Textiles. “Real estate is the locomotive for the industry, and it is picking up, so we expect the second half of the year to be strong.”

Arslan said that De Leo focused on bringing fresh colors and naturals to the line. Two of the strongest sellers were Rebel, a “three-layered application” jacquard, and Mystic, part of the Naturals collection.

“You can’t sell just basic colors anymore,” Arslan said. “Our customers are not geared toward lowest price; instead, they are focused on the look and handle of the fabrics. Our mills are in Turkey and subject to European Union standards, and of course, textiles in Turkey have a long, rich history. They are experts on textiles.”

Strong performers

At Advantage Fabrics, buyers were choosing prints, high-end wool plaids, printed velvets and introductions from a 50 Shades of Blue category. Advantage offers a range of price points, according to Robert Gorman, vice president of merchandising and sales, and the one-stop-shop variety appealed to busy shoppers.

“This has been an excellent market for us,” Gorman said. “We have been slammed, not even able to stop for lunch. We expanded our showroom and our print offerings, and we had more customers on Monday than we did last year. The combination we offer, from velvets to chenilles to linens to jacquards, allows us to provide customers with just about whatever they need.”

Covington Fabric and Design stayed busy throughout the show as well, said Tom Bruno, senior vice president. Bruno said Covington’s paisley designs — woven and printed — were strong performers, along with floral prints.

“There seemed to be lots of interest in ethnic tribal designs,” he said. “It was an excellent show. We had six showrooms completely full Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and the mood was good. It will be a great second half of the year.”

Westwood Weavers Village was one of Westwood Weavers ’ interpretations of the black-and-white trend.
Barbarossa introduced a rainbow of leather colors Barbarossa
Showtime, Showtime, as well as an introduction at left inspired by Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

In the High 5 showroom, buyers were looking for one-of-a-kind textiles, said Luc Callens of Algemene, one of the mills represented in the high-end showroom. Callens added that although Monday and Tuesday are always busy days during the twice-yearly Showtime market, Sunday and Wednesday were also busier than usual with more appointments on the books than in summer 2015.

“We’re very high end, so our customers are coming to us for something different, for flexibility and beauty,” Callens said. “Specifically, we’ve done very well with stone-washed velvets, stonewashed chenilles and coordinating plains.”

Mike Shelton, president and CEO of Valdese Weavers, was also very pleased with the traffic and business at Showtime. “The overwhelming reception from our customers to what our talented creative teams introduced in each of our brands was extremely gratifying. And, a little over a year after the acquisition of Dicey we have been able to reenergize that iconic brand name in the market place.”

Shelton also noted the positive reaction to the company’s Crypton Home performance brand. “We could not be more pleased with our exclusive partnership with Crypton that has extended this industry leading performance story into the residential home furnishings market,” he said, “from it’s origin in the contract hospitality market where it is a dominant force.”

On the grow

For its fourth Showtime appearance, Westwood Weavers brought more “fashion forward” looks, said Joel Cochrane, executive director of merchandising and sales. After focusing on base cloths for past markets, Westwood introduced accent fabrics in the $25 range for summer Showtime.

“Our appointments have grown each year, and each show has been bigger than the last,” Cochrane said. “Buyers are looking for that little something extra, something that will set them apart. It can be hard sometimes for manufacturers to take chances because gray sells, so we offer both. The people who come here are who we built this business for, and we’re continuing to expand to meet their needs with a variety of options. The upholstery business overall is still pretty good, and we’re pleased with this market.”

Viuda de Rafael Gandia, a mill in Alicante, Spain, exhibited at Showtime for the first time. Richard Gladstein said that the company considered several shows before deciding to make the trip to North Carolina.

“This exhibition has the best exposure to companies looking for furnishings fabrics,” Gladstein said. “We’ve been known for some old world type of designs, but now we have updated our tapestries with modern colors and patterns.”

Opera was one of the strong introductions at Eroica Enterprises. Opera
The Stof booth The Stof booth, featuring a fabric supplier from France showing for the first time, had buyers talking about the vivid color offerings.
Valdese Weavers’ showrooms stayed busy throughout Showtime, according to President Mike Shelton. Circa’s entry underscored the line’s explosion of color introductions. Valdese Weavers

Aydin Tekstil, a Turkish mill, is in the process of securing a permanent showroom, said Tom Byrnes, a representative for the company. Aydin has three facilities in Istanbul and uses technologies like water-jet weaving machines in its production process.

“We are a fully vertical operation,” Byrnes said. “Our production capabilities and design approach allow us to put together a lot of types of products, from piece-dyed heathers to digital prints to chenilles and slubbed stried velvets. It is a design-based, product-based strategy.”

Catherine Morsell, executive director for ITMA, said that she was very pleased with the summer show.

“Traffic seemed very healthy, and I’ve spoken with a number of our first-time exhibitors who are very pleased,” Morsell said. “The number of new international exhibitors is very positive; we know that is a potential growth area for the show.

“As an association, we are more than just the show — we are also an educational and networking resource for our members,” Morsell said. “We have a lot planned for next year and we’re excited about new partnerships.”

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