HIGH POINT — With a year since its last edition, the fabric industry brought a lot to fit into the four-day November 2020 International Textile Alliance Showtime event.

“It seems like everyone is just glad to be back in-person,” said Greg Morgan, director of sales and product development for Gum Tree Fabrics. “The industry has been apart for a long time, and a lot has happened.”

And while attendance numbers were only projected to be at about one-third of Showtime’s normal numbers, according to early predictions from the ITA given to exhibitors, the count on new products, happenings and ideas seemed to be unaffected.

For those who attended the market, some the most prominent “new” goings-on at market was a number of layout changes.

In addition to changes made to accommodate for COVID-19 safety, which included extra registration areas and new traffic-directing signage, Showtime’s temporary floor made the move to its new home on the fifth floor of Market Square Textile Tower, and several exhibitors got settled into new permanent showrooms.

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Spotted at Showtime

Valdese Weavers, a prominent exhibitor that at one point took up nine individual spaces on the sixth floor of MSTT, officially opened its new third floor 311 N. Hamilton space. Done in all white from floor to ceiling, the new, larger space includes a full kitchen, bar, private meeting rooms and a presentation space.

In their new fifth floor home, temporary exhibitors were sparse for this event. Citing issues with designing and receiving fabric samples from overseas in time for the show, travel safety worries and low buyer traffic concerns, several exhibitors bowed out of this Showtime, but expressed their plans to return when COVID-19 conditions improve.

For those that were exhibiting though, the new location offered several benefits, including more natural light, a more central location in the heart of MSTT and more private booth spaces that offered flexible sizing and privacy with real, walled rooms – something not previously possible on the temporary floor. In total, about 10 exhibitors showed on the floor this year.

Another reason the temporaries were less full this year? Several regular exhibitors were in new, permanent showrooms.

Leather resource Moore and Giles made the move to a second floor showroom at the main entrance of MSTT. A longtime temporary exhibitor, the new showroom ultimately won Best Showroom during this year’s Showtime buyer voting.

Parà, an Italian fabric resource, also opened up its new permanent showroom this November on the third floor of MSTT. According to National Sales Manager Jeff Jimison, the space was originally set to open in May, but the show’s cancellation pushed things back.

‘Ready to mix things up’

Parà also pushed back the unveiling of many of the brand’s new fabrics, with even more to show than usual.

Among the standouts for the season were several new, brighter green and blue shades that the brand calls green musk, jade, turquoise and night blue, among other names. The blues and greens, Jimison said, play well with existing neutrals and give consumers that interest and fun they have been craving since they began spending more time in the home.

“People have spent months staring at their furniture, and they are ready to mix things up,” Jimison explained. “They want some excitement. They’re willing to play in color more.”

Gum Tree Fabrics observed a similar trend this season, too, dividing its color inspirations into five themes — Blues Traveler, Autumn in New York, The Natural, Gingerbread and Modern Beauty — emphasizing traditional indigo colors and warm cinnamon and terra cotta colors.

Of particular note for the company’s overall collection was the addition of product from Turkey and India, which Greg Morgan said was done in an effort to broaden its product assortment, which also includes fabrics from China and the U.S. Also broadening the company’s assortment was a number of new digital prints, including four new designs in its printed watercolor fabrics collection.

“People love the detailed, hand-painted look,” Morgan said of the collection.

Driven by its commitment to sustainability, Milliken and Co. developed its own collection to tap into the watercolor trend. The Artscape collection includes curated abstract and watercolor designs printed on Breathe by Milliken’s natural fiber fabric, expanding on the brand’s cotton and cotton blend offerings that have been successful at retail.

A keen eye for pattern details made all the difference at Covington Fabric & Design, which rolled out several intricate embroidered pieces. From more traditional embroidered floral looks to brighter, lighthearted fabrics such as the metallic-hinted Aregento and Hermes (a polka dot grid piece that pairs with a distressed floral fabric), embroidery is another outlet the company is using to explore more colorful, fun trends for consumers tired of neutrals in their space during coronavirus social distancing.

Tones that offer calm

At Crypton, the idea of “home-as-sanctuary” during the pandemic, according to a release, means warm tones with a calmer, more natural look in the performance fabric brand’s Interlude collection.

In patterns of line work that can be effortlessly layered, warm browns and beiges create a sense of ease and warmth that pair with existing neutrals like navy and gray as easily as the line work itself. In other collections, such as the Crypton Abercrombie Global Zen collection, color stories were more varied, reflecting similar “coffee house shades” in colors the company calls Café and Larimar, rich, cool blues and greens and warm terracotta.

Browns are also making a comeback in a modern way at Sunbrella, after being paired with a cool or gray shade, which brings a certain richness to the color.
“We find the return to brown as a grounding element, which comes through in a comforting design and feels both familiar and new at the same time,” said Esther Chang, Glen Raven senior designer.

Chang said Glen Raven decided to refocus on the product itself with a comfort-first mentality that offers a vintage, modern vibe. Sunbrella’s Badger yarn is a new brown that offers a darker and cooler tone, according to the company. The styling for many of the new prints has a brown base which feels new, bright and hopeful.

Eye on performance

Outdoors, COVID-19 has accelerated texture trends, with an increase in time spent at home leading more consumers to invest in their outdoor spaces.

“People want the same comfort and style outdoors,” explained Anderson Gibbons, vice president of marketing for Specialty Textile Inc., parent company of Revolution Performance Fabrics.

In recognition of that move, Outdura’s new Ovation 4 collection of 103 new fabrics included a blend of dobbies, jacquards and stripes in fabric color groups that reflect nature: Starry Night, Morning Sky, Garden Spots, Warm Winter and Tawny Sunsets. The Night Out group reflects a desire to get back to a “normal life,” according to materials from the outdoor fabric brand.

Revolution Outdoor focused on translating indoor Revolution Performance Fabrics looks and patterns into outdoor safe looks this round, making outdoor-friendly color updates, which translates into traditionally brighter colors than those observed indoors. Trending outdoors, as it has for many years indoors for Revolution, were also lots of neutral grays and blues.

Elsewhere in the Home Fashions Resource Center, Crest Leather touted its protected leather’s cleanability, scratch resistance and livability, something Lucio Esposito, president, said many consumers are looking for as they live and clean more at home.

To meet the trend, a new performance-protected semi-aniline leather, Verona, was on display in the Crest Leather showroom this market. Using an extended milling effect to highlight the peaks of the leather’s grain and to create random undertones, the leather’s waxy topcoat blends the undertones for a natural, soft hand.

At  Green Hides, which won this year’s Best Booth award, Elyse Weiss, regional sales manager, highlighted several of its protected leathers’ bleach cleanability, sighting customer interest in being able to effectively sanitize furniture during the pandemic.

“It’s something contract and hospitality clients are usually more interested in, but everything that has happened (this year) has made it important to more residential buyers,” said Weiss.

It’s a trend that performance fabric and leather-look brand Ultrafabrics has been meeting for many years. Now, the company says, it has been publishing a plethora of information about how to clean its fabrics and moving bleach cleanability up its list of features for its latest introduction, Brisa Spectra, a polyurethane leather look that can be cleaned with an up to one-to-five ratio of bleach to water.

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