follow us

Color Trends--The current state of fabrics and finishes, part one

Fabrics complement finishes, sister fabrics for a fuller color story

Picture taken for by Mike Woodall 

Picture taken for
by Mike Woodall

Never has the casual industry been so influenced by color as it is today. Consumers’ tastes for a more sophisticated color palette have strengthened, and manufacturers are trying to satisfy those tastebuds. Fabrics don’t match, but instead complement the finishes and sister fabrics for a fuller color story. Furniture manufacturers and fabric suppliers shared their thoughts on the current state of color while color forecasters look ahead to 2007-08. “It’s going to be a fun season with more color,” said Teresa Campbell with Lloyd/Flanders. Lloyd/Flanders introduced 24 fabrics this year, focusing on colors like terra cotta shades, glacier blue – a softer shade than spa blue – and chocolate. Those were in addition to the American Home Collection by Ralph Lauren the company debuted mid-season, which has garnered an impressive response from retailers and taken off across the country, Campbell said.

Ralph Lauren Cape Ann floral linen

Ralph Lauren
Cape Ann floral linen

“This season we really wanted to fill-in things we thought may be missing since we’ve made so many introductions the last couple of years,” she said. Campbell keeps logs of top-selling fabrics, and breaks it down by region and territory. According to her, blacks, browns and wheat are top sellers in the Northwest, which includes Texas and Colorado; beige and bright colors are popular in the South; the East and Canada favor color as well, with beige at the bottom of the list; and black and colors are embraced in the Midwest. Medium brown is the No. 1 finish at Lloyd/Flanders, followed by white and antique black. “Customers tend to like the darker finishes on vinyl, and the traditional white does well because you can use light and dark colors,” Campbell said. “We’ll probably see more placements on white with the Ralph Lauren line.” According to Laurie Jenkins, principal of Laurie Bell Outdoor Occasions whose line of accessories was recently licensed by Brown Jordan, brown frames have become the top-sellers with wicker and cast aluminum.

Waverly’s Sun ‘N’ Shade Patio line includes many patterns and colors, including St. Croix in Cinnabar on the above chaise.
Waverly’s Sun ‘N’ Shade Patio line includes many patterns and colors, including St. Croix in Cinnabar on the above chaise.

“That gives us fabric direction,” she said. “Our challenge is coming up with new combinations.” Jenkins said colors like chili, rust and brick are popular, along with brown and a rust or burnt orange that gives a sophisticated Tuscan feel. Black and white reigns for the more contemporary, while some brighter colors, like lime green and aquamarine, still are requested. “The market is moving up to jacquards for a more feminine look,” Jenkins said. “I like to pair that with stripes which are more masculine. And we need more texture.” Waverly is hoping to strengthen its outdoor category of Sun ‘N’ Shade fabrics, focusing on different textures, like jacquards, and taking its indoor approach outside to offer a full coordinated story. The company also will introduce an outdoor trim. “We’re really excited about this particular category,” said Pamela Maffei Toolan, vice president of design. “We’re seeing that people are bringing these outdoor fabrics indoors as well.” Maffei Toolan said outdoor fabrics have gotten more sophisticated, and sees two clear color stories. The first includes rich tones that coordinate nicely with rattan and woven. This also includes a British Colonial theme with blacks, khakis and tea stain colors, as well as chocolate brown, reds and sage. The second is an Island motif, with paisley, tropical and exotic patterns to achieve a “botanical look,” perhaps with rhododendron and fern designs as well. A printed solid, St. Croix, also was introduced. Like a grass cloth, St. Croix is a printed texture that makes a perfect anchor with all of the mentioned motifs.

Ralph Lauren Shore Paisley in Red

Ralph Lauren
Shore Paisley in Red

“A small segment still asks for brighter colors and whimsical or novelty patterns like flip flops or seashells,” Maffei Toolan said. Caryn Lida has moved forward with her new outdoor fabric line, Sundurance. Distributed by Miami-based Fabric Tent, Sundurance is owned by Lida and her brother Eric. Fabrics in the Sundurance line are 100% acrylic and reversible. Original fabrics in the line all were bright, but new colors have been added in brown, black and white, beige and yellow, all in patterns, no solids. The high-end fabrics have a four-year warranty and are water-, fade- and mildew-resistant. “The more designers we talked to, the more we realized they wanted earth tones,” Lida said. Color combinations that pair spa-influenced colors like glacier and mineral blue, yellow-cast green or a deep orange with chocolate brown will be in the forefront as well, according to Gina Wicker, director of design, and Suzie Roberts, market manager, both of Glen Raven.   “It’s not the Crayon brights of the past,” Wicker said. “What you’re starting to see now is a lot of rich color but not the primaries.”  Additionally, as the scale of outdoor furniture gets larger, so do fabric patterns. More contemporary, larger-scale patterns have emerged, like geometrics and dots, Wicker said. Reversible patterns are becoming hot for umbrellas and throw pillows.