Fresh fabric fashions
Fabric makers mix vibrant hues to neutrals, menswear
Jamie Sorcher -- Casual Living, 6/3/2011 3:34:03 AM
DRAWING INCREASING INSPIRATION FROM RESIDENTIAL LOOKS AND momentum from trendy fashion designers (think Tory Burch graphic patterns and Betsey Johnson's Lizard Limes), the forecast for outdoor fabrics is brighter hues with many manufacturers offering some interpretation of the color of the year - pink.
Pantone, which named its 2011 color of the year back in January, selected a vibrant "Honeysuckle" pink - a dynamic, reddish pink that is meant to signify an encouraging and uplifting mood. According to Pantone, the pink color "emboldens us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor."
The color was selected by considering a number of factors including social issues, economy, technology, lifestyle, as well as consumers' needs, moods, desires and aspirations. Now, it is starting to show up everywhere from clothing and accessories to cosmetics and home furnishings. Even the March 2011 issue of House Beautiful was devoted to the color with the headline, "The Power of Pink!"
Not surprisingly, many outdoor fabric makers are taking a cue from this energetic, vital color and sprinkling collections with "happy" hues that incorporate not just variations of pink, but also lime greens, indigo blues and other vibrant hues.
"Pink is still a huge drama story," said Gina Wicker, Glen Raven's design and creative director. "We were lucky with how everything played out. We had been chasing a pink for five years and hadn't found one that met our standards, and it all came together a year ago. We unveiled our pink at the fashion show at last year's Casual Market so it was not actually on the floor. No one could buy it then so it's created a lot of demand. Now, you'll be seeing plenty of it at premarket this July."
According to Wicker, she couldn't have planned it better. "It was really the perfect storm because Pantone named it color of the year, House Beautiful had it in their color issue, and now consumers are actively looking for this color just as it's hitting retail floors," she said. "Everybody is on the pink bandwagon because it is a happy color."
Glen Raven showed a berry tone in its residential line in December that Wicker said has done quite well, but now for June, she said the company would likely go brighter with the color in its outdoor offerings.
Plenty of manufacturers have their own interpretations of pink along with other "happy" colors.
"We're focused on brighter colors with a crisp, clean look," said Todd Nifong, president of Altizer & Co., which markets the Al Fresco line of outdoor fabrics. "We have a new yarn color, berry, which is a deep, vibrant pink that we are mixing with lime green in our canvas collection. It is a preppy color combination."
At P. Kaufmann, the outdoor Fun in the Sun Collection, with 16 solids and 30 prints, will have its first major run at Showtime this month. It was available only for preview last December, said Robert Patton, national sales manager, furniture, who also serves as the president of the International Textiles Manufacturing Association.
"We typically use our indoor designs as a base, and then we kick it up a notch with the color," he said. "We have several royal blues, bright greens that are avocado and lime, and colors that we are just calling happy colors."
Patton said he expects the OD Vogue basket-weave pattern to be a top seller along with OD Cool Stripe, which combines berry and green hues, as well as OD Jungle Fever and OD Flower Power, which are what he deemed casual florals. "These are abstract florals, not traditional florals, and these brightly colored ones should do well. Some of the new colors we focus on here are amethyst, chartreuse, aquamarine, palm, coral, mink (a soft grayish tan), and then we get darker with berry and java."
Microfibres will show its version of pink. "We have a peony, which is in the red family," said Tom Himes, vice president of business development. "We combined it with mahogany with a leaf green and spice colors." Himes also said the company's bright indigos and greens are getting positive reaction, too.
At the other end of the spectrum, many companies are focused on the continued success of neutrals.
Himes is among the fabric makers who are finding a strong color story with a much darker color. "We're getting very good response to black, but it's black with pebble or with a blend of earth tones so it's a nice neutral approach," he said. "And it fits well with wicker."
Black is going to be big for Tropix by Swavelle Mill Creek, according to Sales Manager Howard Ebert. "It is one our top three colors and it is done with colors that pop off of it. Reds, bright yellows, a hint of lilac and golds - anything that jumps off the background," he said. "But these yellows are not laid-back; they are bright. The blues are bright, too - surf blues. We're keeping the colors upbeat."
Ebert said the Tropix line on display at Showtime highlights bright reds, oranges, lime greens and turquoise. "What we introduced in June 2010 were bright, happy colors, and we followed up on that with our December collection which was eclectic with monotones, stripes and color coordinates. We didn't do full-line tropicals, but transitional tropicals. These are more sophisticated. Now for June, we are showing bright, sharp colors. These are the kind of colors that put a smile on a customer's face."
Sarah Keelan, senior stylist at Wearbest, which produces the Bella Dura outdoor line of fabrics, said the company is also having success with brights. "We did well with brighter, more saturated oranges, lime greens, reds and turquoise," she said. "Yellow was also a good seller for us."
But neutrals remain strong, she added, and are mirroring the trend in the residential fabrics. "Consumers are getting more sophisticated, and we see a shift to color and patterns that mirror the residential market," Keelan said. "The residential trend with menswear is big, and we want to continue that look in our outdoor line. We see a menswear color story with neutrals in dark charcoals, gray and taupe colors. The linen looks feature ticking, stripes, checks and texture like boucle and chenille."
These fabrics, she said, look great on clean frames - on metals and white frames - and can offer a more contemporary look. "It has a more European influence, a Parisian influence," Keelan said. "For accents we see blue with grays like bright navy to dark turquoise. Fuchsia works well, too, and hot pink continues to be a strong accent as well."
In addition to the more contemporary menswear looks, Keelan also pointed to global themes, which pairs well with safari prints and animal skins like cheetah, tiger, snake, crocodile and giraffe. "It's a universal look that goes with global themes," she said.
Outdura's focus remains on its continued success with the menswear trend and with neutrals.
"Our December line is in place now, and it has the neutrals, taupes, mushrooms and grays represented in two-tone boucle novelty yarns," said Natalie Scott, vice president of sales and marketing. "The neutrals we're seeing now are sophisticated like silver, timber, bone and jute." She also singled out Hot Shot, a new texture, as one that will be a mover. It is an Oxford cloth-like fabric, tying right into the menswear look, and it comes in a multitude of colors.
"Our line is becoming more residentially inspired," Scott said. "People appreciate the indoor concept outside, and our line has shifted toward that.
In the green color family, Scott mentioned the company's recent ADEX (Award for Design Excellence) honor for its Chateau Palm, a tonal three-way warp.
Outdura also is readying three new ikat patterns, which will be important for another season, Scott said. "It is a trend in fashion and in our industry with the graphics. Think of clothing designer Tory Burch. Pick up any fashion magazine and you'll see that, so we're going to build on that concept. And we see a continued trend with skins. We have Wild Thing, and we will introduce a new skin in next season's line. It's a way to jazz things up and continues to be very popular."
For Phifer, neutrals remain popular. "As far as our sling collections, we're still seeing neutrals like browns, grays and bronzes with pops of color - blue, orange, green and red," said Hugo Benitez, national market manager. "Our Elements Collection was very well received last year, and some of those patterns from that group are now part of our stock collection. We're seeing increased interest in our cool tones of gray with yellow. Gray and yellow are right on trend for the coming year."
Honey Moon, a mustard gold, in fact, was named the Color Marketing Group's "Next Color" for 2011, representing a grounded hue of optimism. It is a fresh face on yellow and is playing out in combination with everything from fantasy brights to subdued hues.
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