For many years now—since at least the early 1990s—a popular refrain in this industry has been, “Fabric is returning to the window.” And it has. But it never has seemed so true as it has in just the past few years.
Let’s be fair, and honest, however; hard treatments are in
no way shrinking from the scene. And all we keep hearing in region
after region around the country is how popular shutters are these
days. Well, that’s good, too. A beautiful, well-made and installed
window treatment that solves customers’ needs, lifestyles and
desires is what everyone’s after.
Yet, draperies seem more popular than ever. Commack, NY-based industry
analysts Business Trend Analysts, Inc. (BTA) has estimated the U.S
production of draperies for 2005 at 680.2 million square yards.
Its projection for 2013 is 770.4 million square yards. By contrast,
BTA’s tally of drapery production for 1991 was 521 million
square yards. That’s a lot of draperies added in the last 14
years, and that can’t even begin to tell the whole story. It
seems likely that those figures are based on ready-made and made-to-measure
markets. How can anyone clearly determine how many millions of yards
of fabric in any given year are made into the beautiful, custom
draperies we see?
This fact is not lost on the many window coverings retailers out
there. In just the last couple of months (including this issue),
our cover stories have featured very successful dealers in different
parts of the country—both, admittedly, selling mostly hard
treatments; yet both looking to expand the soft sides of their businesses.
In both cases the dealers see a demand for draperies, want to meet
their clients’ every wish for treatments and have a well-established
client base to work with.
But there’s something else going on, too. Custom draperies
is a client-driven market. Customers are asking for them. There
are many reasons for this growing demand. There’s still the
idea of “cocooning,” that people are making their home
environments more warm and inviting. Homeowners also are seeing
more fabric treatments in the high-style shelter magazines, especially
those featuring high-end interiors. And clients have learned something
important, too: That placing a blind, shade or shutter on a window
is beautiful and functional, but the treatment doesn’t stop
there anymore. Adding fabric panels (either functioning or as an
accent) is the next step. Designers and workrooms say it doesn’t
stop there either. Customers want drapery panels with embellishments:
fringe and tassels and beads and tiebacks and decorative hardware.
It’s not just fabric that’s coming back to the window.
Design is coming back to the window.