Fabric is back at the window like we haven’t seen in years! Clients wanting a truly custom, truly unique interior turn to draperies and fabric shades as their products of choice.
Draperies & Window Coverings asked top industry suppliers to unroll this market segment and help retailers with that they need to know. Here are their responses:
We have been monitoring soft window treatments over the last year or so. We have noticed more activity, or growth, in our hardware business, which is used in the soft treatments. Based on our findings, we decided to get more involved in this side of the business. We purchased an established fabric and hardware supply company across the state from our main warehouse. This facility has given us instant access to designers and workrooms that are more oriented to the soft treatment side of the business. We are also in the process of opening up a new designer showroom near our main facility (see D&WC, February 2008, page 16).
Without putting a number on [fabric] sales in the U.S. market, we have enough information in our region to warrant the investment in the soft window treatment side of the business.
As for new trends to watch for this year, we’ll rely on input from our new facility, Sheer Supply, in Sarasota, FL.
Southwest Florida’s population is an eclectic mix of all age groups and income levels. Tastes range from Urban/Modern all the way through to Classic Traditional. Whether full-time or seasonal resident, the one common element they all share is a desire to put their own personal touches on their homes. Some are sprucing up to be competitive in a soft real estate market. Others want to create a sanctuary from hectic, everyday life.
Popular colors literally span the rainbow from dark jewel tones to earth tones and soft pastels. Clients are strongly exercising their personal tastes with mild indifference to current trends. Soothing shades of aqua remain popular, but most often without the accents of chocolate that have been so prevalent in the past. We also see a move toward bold splashes of color on neutral backgrounds with navy and cobalt blue rising to the top of color choices. As always, classic tropical motifs in shades of green remain popular, as do custom treatments made of natural fibers (woven wood style) to give a soft, casual feel.
“Going Green” is a hot topic. However, we see few clients choosing to make the extra investment in products of sustainable and green materials. Instead, they are opting for items of increased durability. Solution-dyed acrylics previously reserved for indoor/outdoor use and fabrics designed for commercial applications are increasingly finding their way into formal living room upholstery and other soft furnishing throughout the home. Clients have become more savvy when it comes to durability ratings and stain resistant coatings.
There seems to be a marked change in decorating emphasis. More attention is being paid to energy efficiency and portable items such as upholstery and bedding which offer excellent business potential for our customers in Southwest Florida.
FABRICS WITH A CONSCIENCE
Fabrics are indeed back in window treatments! Softer treatments that offer simplicity, yet allow for the creation of individualize looks at the window is most definitely a trend that is here to stay. With all that goes on in our outer world, we are all looking to create home and work environments that are feel good, yet are functional.
That is why Alkenz USA’s Sunshadow solar screen fabrics used in roller, roman shades and panel track systems have seen incredible growth over the last few years because they provide a soft look with solar protection without giving up the outside view, allowing natural light into the space!
Solar Screen treatments look fantastic as a standalone treatment, but also work extremely well with other soft treatments. In fact, Sunshadow solar screen shades are a better choice then, say, a typical sheer drape under draperies and other soft top treatments. The Alkenz USA Sundshadow line of solar screen fabrics are available in widths up to 118 inches in all the popular colors and openness factors. We believe without a doubt that sales in this category will continue to be strong in 2008 and beyond!
Expect to see the demand for fabrics with a conscience continue to grow! Being environmentally responsible is not a trend anymore, it is becoming a way of life and Alkenz USA will address this demand by introducing a new line of eco-friendly fabrics in 2008.
Green, not the color but the statement, is just getting bigger and more important. From recycled materials to sustainability using authentic and natural materials, the environment has a huge effect on color and design.
Texture in fabrics continues to sell the best. Complex color is also very important—whether it is texture or special finishes, layered finishes, metallics, worn and weathered looks and chameleon colors that change based on lighting. Today, color needs depth and complexity.
Gray is an upcoming neutral on its own or paired with color. It is taking on a blue cast, more slate-like. Red is an important family; it has become a classic. Red is present in every major culture and symbolizes heritage and national identities. The red family has also taken on new meaning with all the causes it represents.
Green is a best seller in most product categories. It spans from yellow-green to true spring green to more blue-green, aqua families.
In the purple family, lavender has surfaced. It has been shown at all the home textiles and fashion shows. Brown has become a standing neutral—a softer black. It is paired with almost every color family. Dark browns are very popular, but mid-tone and lighter browns are coming on strong.
Antique golds are very important in the home palette. The influence of gold continues to build and to be seen. There is also a mid-tone blue that is emerging. It has a cool undertone with an atmospheric feel to it.
Global and economic influences will largely affect color and fabric trends for 2008. “Going green” is a popular international concept. Warren Steven Window Fashions fabricates Hunter Douglas® window fashions using this inspiration. Aluminum blinds are constructed with 95 percent recycled material. Provenance® woven woods merge renewable resources like reeds, bamboo and grasses, while Duette® Honeycomb Shades provide industry-leading R-values, offering a means for resource conservation.
With the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Asian design themes are a surfacing trend. Ring and circle patterns inspired by the Olympic rings and medals suggest clean, elegant lines. Soothing, natural colors derived from feng shui design elements are always prevalent. Rich silks with intricate embroidery, trim and beading are used more readily than ever before in our draperies and custom treatments.
Exotic locales are another vibrant inspiration. Zebra and cheetah prints or leather and suede textures offer a striking look with the natural feel. Color trends first debut in fashion; consumers get comfortable and inspired wearing it and then move their favorites into their homes. Some emerging color palettes are:
• Cobalt Blue—paired with black
• Plum hues—with dark silver and gunmetal gray
• Periwinkle Blue—mixed with raspberry and crisp white
• Chocolate Brown—with gold or red accents (instead of red and black)
• Skin-tone neutrals—flesh pink, soft green and aqua
Matte metallic finishes paired with these emerging colors are very chic in bronze, copper and platinum.
As a fabricator, WSWF recognizes the importance of color in the industry. With the help of Hunter Douglas, we’re able to understand and offer products that relate to the consumer and the world in their home.