Not so with one of the most popular and enduring trends going on all year long, year after year, showcasing beauty in our homes winter, spring, summer and fall. I'm referring to one of my favorite niches in the window fashions industry: trims, tassels, tapes and all other types of drapery and furniture embellishments.
Trims companies throughout the industry are introducing beautiful new pieces to complement any treatment from simple to ornate, from ethnic to all-American. Why do trims captivate us so? Why is the market for embellishments still so hardy? Much of it has to do with the ever-increasing consumer interest in fabric with trims following a natural progression in adding style, color and individuality to a design. Trims are also a very safe way for an otherwise faint-at-heart beige kind of consumer to go wild with color and luxuriousness in a small way.
Take Van Lathem's Baroque line of lovely Renaissance colors in vibrant blues, purples and pinks married with soft velvet. They're simply scrumptious! I want the whole collection! The addition of a few lovely key tassels, a brush fringe and some velvet tiebacks can bring any beige décor to life and offer a roomful of vibrancy and elegance.
OK, maybe I haven't hammered this point in hard enough, but have you heard the phrase "one person's trash is another person's treasure"? Now, apply this to the concept of trends—any trend, really. That is, what's hot at one end of the universe is quite possibly not in another. Says Dee Comstock of D'Kei, Lisle, IL, "What's new in one part of the country is old stuff somewhere else. Even from one part of the city to another."
So the purpose of this article isn't just to hoot about a particular style of trimming, but more to talk about what's out there, what seems to be selling best and what's new in the product category. But keep in mind one thing: trims haven't peaked yet. This category is still extremely robust, which began gathering steam in the 1970s, took hold firmly in the 1980s, became robust by the 1990s and currently shows no signs of slowing. A strong consumer trend like this usually takes about 60 years to peak. So, being we're in about year 30 of our cycle, passementerie still has another 20-plus years before it reaches a pinnacle.
Of course, colors and styles—and yes, locale—do have a profound impact on the popularity of these items. "Since we do trade shows nationally, we see different colors [faring well] in different areas," says Comstock. "D'Kei also sells different products in these regions. [But] color, in general, is in. Away with the off-whites and non-color!" And boy howdy, does she mean it. Every Web site I visited, every product line I researched, every tassel shipped to me to dangle around my computer area while I wrote this article was filled with color. From the lovely Marrakech line from Conso, Union, SC, with rich autumn tones of wine, chocolate and cumin coupled with bronze beads, to the vibrant Della Robbia Collection from Brimar, Lake Forest, IL, celebrating the fruity colors of mango, pineapple and watermelon, these products are a veritable feast for the eyes.
Regarding autumn tones, Allyson Colosimo of Tuscany Imports, New Orleans, LA, says, "soft trims in autumn tones mix well with the soft woven fabrics on the market." While Colosimo declined to predict 2002 passementerie trends, she did say that Tuscany Imports will offer plenty of colorful products. "We are working," she says, "on soft corals, blue-greens, hazelnut and 'steel blue,' as well as various vibrant multi-colors." Colosimo also mentioned that the affinity for metallics hasn't crested yet, and Tuscany will work with "gold metallic in interesting styles to go with silk and the silky fabrics so popular today."
Finding the right color won't be a problem if you choose a product from Trimland, Farmingdale, NY, which offers medium and high-end trim lines with more than 2,000 available colors.
At D'Kei, the colors of fall—reds, rusts and soft, warm, mellow golden shades—are a growing category, as well as "the springy bright colors of corals, yellows and lavender blues," says Comstock. A bright and welcoming contrast, no doubt.
Most of the companies researched were all buying into the East Indian culture design trend. Two companies showing examples are Van Lathem's Koa, an ethnic multi-national line brought to life in blacks, golds and tans displayed against the background of the ever-popular animal print; and Conso's Shaded Jute collection with its natural fibers and muted tones offering an Indian flavor to contemporary fabrics, as well as its Marrakech line, harkening to a land of intrigue and mystery.
But traditional products are also selling big everywhere in the United States, too. Says Colosimo at Tuscany, "We're continuing with our fine handmade trim and traditional designs from Italy, and we've also added a new trim line from South Africa. We will add a small range of trendy tassels and tiebacks in bold shades. We're very proud of our selection and quality."
The first wave of the beading frenzy is over, but there's more to come as this popular category grows ever stronger. It was really only about five years ago that beads really started making headway in the trims category. Now every company has them in some form: incorporated within fringe, woven into tassels, attached onto tapes. Everywhere you look, you will find something with beads. You'd think this saturation in the market would cause buyer burnout, but that's not the case. Take the Twinkle line from Van Lathem, Salisbury, NC, a line that takes the bead trend one step further. It offers an unusual combination of materials—glass, Plexiglas, wire and satin ribbon—to create unique designs.
D'Kei, which says its beaded trims have set design standards throughout the marketplace, offers unduplicated design and rich elegance with its Baubles, Bangles & Beads collection. A standout within the line is the one-inch square and seed bead fringe—acrylic beads on rayon ribbon tape in a rainbow of pastel tones.
Conso has a terrific line of beaded trims with its Beaded Opulence Collection, "a collection," says Pam Pugh of Conso, "of hand-crafted tassels and trimmings dazzling with distinctive hues and a touch of shimmer." Conso is even offering darling beaded bugs and flowers, complete with brooch pin on the back of the product. The possibilities for using these pins are endless—think about them on pillows, or amidst the folds of draperies or on a table runner.
In trims, the sky's the limit. Not everything developed and marketed will catch the eye of the consumer, but it is certainly fun to have plenty of choices. Trimmings are an evolutionary product, and certainly one that offers an incredible range of creativity in development.
Feathers, for instance, aren't for everyone, but at D'Kei they are considered one of the most exciting new trims. "Ostrich feathers," says Comstock, "can be sewn onto the bottom of a shower curtain, tacked around a pillow edge or just thrown onto a chair or bed. The flat tapes are attached to lampshades for a bit of interest. Feathers can be added to floral arrangements, picture frames, millinery and apparel. Feathers are for furnishings." Comstock was also quick to mention that D'Kei feathers are all by-products. No bird was killed for its feathers.
From wildly funky to staid and traditional, trims offer your customers a way to express their personalities in simple to extravagant ways. Make certain you are educated on all there is available on the market today, and then make trims a part of your next creation!
Kathleen Stoehr is president of Chemistry Creative, based in Minneapolis, MN. She has more than six years' experience covering window treatments and interior fashions as the former editor-in-chief of Window Fashions magazine. Stoehr can be contacted for comments, queries and trend information at firstname.lastname@example.org.