HIGH POINT — The fashion of furniture starts at Showtime — the twice annual textile market — for many manufacturers, and the summer 2017 edition included key introductions from established designers, innovative product construction and an eye firmly fixed on consumers.
In the Sunbrella showrooms, Glen Raven introduced 280 new solids, stripes and jacquards. Greg Rosendale, Sunbrella’s marketing manager, said that some of the key consumer influences on Sunbrella’s product development were a combination of “the practicality of having performance in the home and the requirement of high-style, fashion-forward design.”
“We continue to focus on our design capabilities,” he said. “Our ability to combine our performance benefits with the dramatic advances we have made in comfort and design make a great story for the interiors market.”
The Sunbrella introductions emphasized textured body cloths, as well as global influence on pattern motifs and styling. A collaborative collection with Pendleton highlighted Native American aesthetics and expanded one of strong sellers at High Point Market in April.
“We continue to see Showtime as a valuable opportunity to interact with our customers,” Rosendale said. “Our appointments have been consistent, and we have seen new accounts very interested in Sunbrella.”
He said that Sunbrella’s legacy as a performance fabric remains a core selling strategy for many retailers.
“Performance was the most-talked-about subject with our customers,” he said. “Sunbrella performance features have been developed to withstand very difficult environments, and our technology includes specific fiber formulations, color recipes, UV packages and finishing technologies.”
In the Flocktex showroom in the Resource Center, third-generation president Yasef Deitsch offered fabric buyers a messy, but compelling, demonstration of the company’s performance textiles. Using ketchup, a permanent pen and a package of baby wipes, Deitsch highlighted the Flocktex line, a collection that began with one suede product named Impala that is produced in Israel.
“We have come a long way with regard to product introduction,” Deitsch said. “From one product, we now offer many different and fashionable looks that all possess the cleaning and wear characteristics on which our reputation was built.
“Our new line was extremely well-received as we offer many fresh and upcoming looks in linen, wool and velvet that are becoming in vogue today,” Deitsch said. “Many importers to America believe that a focus on price will provide them with their rewards, but we believe that quality and service as well as fashion will stand the test of time.”
TerriAnne O'Sullivan, director of sales at Sunbury Textile Mills, said that customers have a higher expectation and demand for fabric styles and performance than they have had in the past. Noting the demand for a “high aesthetic with a soft texture and performance properties, she said that Sunbury remains focused on providing innovative products with a “great perceived value.”
“Customers are reacting in a positive manner to our latest product introductions,” O’Sullivan said. “Overall trends are organic and linear, and one of the strongest trends driving the current product development is an artisanal hand-drawn aesthetic. As a reaction to increased technology and screen time, there is a longing for natural materials and texture created by the human hand. We see all manner of line work from feminine and lacey to bold geometrics. Texture is created from unique weave structures, distressed applications, new finishing and innovative blends of luxury yarns.”
Revolution continues to do well for STI, and the adjacent Brentwood Textiles showroom also stayed busy throughout the show, according to Katharine Dotterer, designer for the line.
“We wrote more orders this Showtime, which is abnormal,” Dotterer said. “Most people just bring in samples, and we usually wait to the end to tally. We have several popular plain fabrics but a lot of interest in our Revolution jacquards.”
Dotterer said work on the next introductions for STI and Brentwood is underway. “We are working to expand our color palette in Revolution and add slubs and chenilles. The energy around our revolution performance fabric is as strong as ever.”
Crypton Home celebrated its summer introductions with a new showroom on the fourth floor of Market Square Tower.
“The feedback on our new showroom has been great and shows our long-term commitment to this market,” said CEO Lance Keziah. “The response to Crypton Home remains highly positive from our existing customers, and … our new fabric introductions have been well received by existing and new customers. We feel our latest collection is our best yet.”
“Comments focused on the variety of yarn scales, new constructions and the fact that our colors created a layered effect of textures that dramatically softens the hand of the product,” said Jack Eger, senior vice president of sales. “Our new showroom seemed to validate our increased presence in the performance market and allowed us to increase our customer base to support our future growth.”
Looking for leather
Showtime buyers on a leather search found an abundance of new options. In some showrooms, new colors and textures were among the leather offerings. In others, hide selection brought added value potential.
“Anthem Leather has very good established articles, so this Showtime we tried to expand our offering with vibrant new fashion colors,” said Adrian Esposito, one of the founders of Anthem. “We had a wonderful reaction to our color story. Customers want unique looks, good values and great colors, and we think we addressed those desires.”
At Universal Leather, President Kenneth Kockekian said he focused on continued innovation to bring new value options to buyers.
“Buyers come here to see something new and the onus is on us to bring something new to the market,” Kockekian said. “We’re showing our buffalo hides, which can offer a 7% or 8% better yield than cow hides. Buffalo are as wide at the shoulder as the hips, and there are no brands, no bites or markings.”
At Showtime, the hand-antiqued buffalo leather designs were popular with buyers, as was the vintage collection featuring hues like Chili Pepper, Storm and Ocean Bay. Bison leather was another strong seller, according to Kockekian.
“When South America reduced its harvest of cows, we left South America and went to Mexico, nine or 10 years ago,” he said. “It gave us faster delivery, and we could get trucks in one week. At the same time, we went to India and developed our South American finishes, oils and waxes on buffalo, so prices come down 20 to 25%. Now I have a different program than anyone else here.”
JBS Couros introduced Authentic–Deep into Nature, a collection referencing the four elements and produced from tanneries in Italy, South America and Asia.
“We’re trying to bring the connection to the authenticity of leather to this collection,” said JBS’ Fernando Bellese. “We are presenting a U.S.-Italy collection where we use American hides and finish them in Italy and Brazil. American hides are more on the level of European hides, and we are doing a big push in the U.S.”
From Vern Yip’s line at Fabricut to the launch of Scot Meacham Wood’s tartan collection at Advantage Fabrics, designer collections were front and center at Showtime, creating buyer excitement via signature aesthetics and a nod to customization.
The Scot Meecham Woods collection was prominently displayed in the Advantage Fabrics window, prompting walk-in buyers to take a look, according to Gorman, noting that this summer’s show was one of the company’s best.
“We have had a fantastic Showtime and have actually written more orders, maybe the most ever to date,” Gorman said. “Velvets continue to rule the day, and Advantage displayed a strong array of velvets from plains in matte cotton finish to distressed and lustrous silky velvets and velvet looks. Our most popular velvet collection included several beautiful and dramatic antique prints comprised of traditional florals, contemporary abstracts and ghost prints, which were decadently glamorous and offered a refreshing take on vintage.”
Advantage represented the continued popularity of Mid-Century Modern with dimensional weaves, color saturated prints, and mid-scaled jacquards in chenilles, textures and soft base cloths. Gorman said the company also developed new motion products that have gained traction since last season.
The Scot Meacham Wood collection is part of Advantage’s Euroluxe brand, anchored by a 100% cotton velvet in a variety of colors. Made from 100% recycled wool fiber, the SMW Tartan collection was a hit with buyers, Gorman said.
“Scot really stepped up his game with beautiful and unexpected color combinations that work so well with the seasons newest leather, wool and velvet colors,” said Gorman. “We really had a wonderful response to Scot’s product, with the brightest most colorful Tartan taking center stage.”
In addition to Yip and Wood’s launch, Justina Blakeney, a designer, New York Times best-selling author and blogger, introduced her line at Valdese Weavers, showcasing a mix of Bohemian, global and artisanal influences.
"We are thrilled with the overwhelming reaction to our Justina Blakeney fabric collection,” said Patrick Shelton, strategic accounts manager for Valdese. “Justina's artwork, unique aesthetic and love of pattern fit perfectly with the design and weaving capabilities of Valdese Weavers. With her strong presence across various social platforms, we have been able to interact instantly with a new and tech savvy demographic."
Blakeney is a Los Angeles-area artist best-known for her award-winning blog The Jungalow, which has an audience of more than 2 million people. The fabric collection features a group of patterns with an eclectic palette, all based on Blakeney’s original artwork.
“Justina’s free-spirited aesthetic translates well into textiles,” said Valdese Weavers Chief Creative Officer Laura Levinson. “And it adds a design offering to our product lineup that meets the needs of the Millennial generation.”
"From the moment I visited the Valdese folks at their mill in North Carolina, I knew that I had found the perfect partner,” Blakeney said. “Each design tells a story of a place I've traveled to, an important moment in my life or something that inspires me about my neighborhood in Los Angeles. I'm thrilled to bring these designs into people's homes and can't wait to see how they get used."
Prior to her role with Designers Today, Cindy attended markets as both a consumer home furnishings editor and interior design client. She has written about the design industry for more than 15 years and still finds editorial inspiration in every corner of the world, from Italian villas to Atlanta urban lofts to country escape tiny homes.