16741 Mon, 08/10/2009 - 1:28pm
By David Gill
Organizers and exhibitors are upbeat about this month’s New York International Gift Fair and New York Home Textiles Market Week, in spite of the shaky economy.
The Gift Fair will take place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and Passenger Ship Terminal Pier 94, New York, from Saturday, Aug. 15, until Thursday, Aug. 20. The New York Home Textiles Market Week is slated for Friday, Aug. 14, through Thursday, Aug. 20, at 7 W New York and 230 Fifth Ave.
The feeling among the fair’s participants is that the show’s purpose—to unveil fresh new products—is just the tonic for the textiles industry at this time. As Dorothy Belshaw, the show’s director and senior vice president of GLM, owner and manager of the fair, pointed out, “Retail inventories are low and buyers see the need to refresh their mix, not just with reorders but to have good product that consumers want. Retailers are looking for the next best thing, and you have to come to the market to find it.”
The view is also rosy for Textiles Market Week.
“I believe there is a sense of renewed optimism this year, as so much has been flushed out and new opportunities have presented themselves,” said Chris Collins, vice president and general manager of 7 W New York. “Those companies that have weathered the storm are repositioned to thrive in a new marketplace.”
Vendors share the feeling that retailers need “fresh, exciting product that sells,” in the words of A. John Rose, president of Textillery Weavers, which will be at the Gift Fair. Rose added that he expects “cautious buying” from retailers at the show. “The challenge is to convince the retailer to take enough risk to see the kind of return that we know is there,” he said.
For this reason, vendors at the August shows need to be up front with new products. “In general, Sferra is not sitting back and waiting for things to get better,” said Liz Rapelye, the company’s brand manager. “We feel that opportunities abound in these times, as our customer is still looking for someone to lead the industry with new product, yet with a collection that is reflective of the times in price.”
Such possibilities are crucial to Sin in Linen, a five-year-old manufacturer of decorative bedding that will exhibit at the Gift Fair for the first time this month. “We are cautiously optimistic and believe that exhibiting at NYIGF is one piece of a multipronged approach of gaining exposure for Sin in Linen,” said the company’s proprietrix, Sandy Glaze. “We have listed in the directory and are sending out info to the press and mailing postcards in order to drive traffic to our booth.”
Another reason for a more upbeat outlook is the rise in demand for textiles in specific niches—the “green” category in particular. “People are hungry to make a difference and turn the climate into a more compassionate chapter,” said Carrie Peters, chief executive officer and designer of Raksha Bella, which produces textile products made of organic cotton. “New product trends are definitely moving into anything eco-friendly.”
For exhibitors such as Andrew Morgan Collection, the success it has enjoyed by exhibiting over a stretch of years is another reason to have high hopes for this month’s fair. Noting that the company has become a resource for spas and hotels around the world, Andrew Morgan, founder and chief executive officer of the company, added, “Our roots are still very much planted in retail, and there’s no question that the most modern, hip stores are shopping for innovative products at NYIGF.”
Morgan also said there has been a “massive increase” in Andrew Morgan Collection’s earth-friendly bedding. One of the company’s throws has been chosen to be included in the Gift Fair’s Sustainability Design display, “and we are hopeful that this will help drive traffic to our booth and interest in our products,” he said.
This will be the second Gift Fair since the economy began to sour, and the feeling is that some of the uncertainties from the January show have eased. “I don’t think in January retailers knew how the inventory situation would affect their business,” Belshaw said. “In addition, retailers from international destinations did not attend in the same numbers as in prior shows.”
The outlook on the global side this time is different. Belshaw noted that the international pavilions at the Gift Fair will be expanded, and some pavilions such as Italy that didn’t attend the winter show, are returning.
In addition, the textiles portion of the fair will be next to the personal-care area. “This adjacency makes sense because a lot of bed-bath-linen lifestyle stores also carry robes, soaps and scented candles,” Belshaw said. “The trend toward all-natural that we’ve seen in personal care has also gained traction in textiles. People want to surround themselves with products that are green and promote health and wellness.”
Hopes are high that the August textiles shows will promote health and wellness to the industry. “At times like this, the venue means a lot,” Belshaw said.