• Jennifer Bringle

Las Vegas Market: A Sure Bet

In Vegas, plenty are ready to gamble on the growing casual category

A rainy opening day threatened to put a damper on the Las Vegas Market, but the clouds finally parted and the crowds of buyers, designers and media flooded the World Market Center for the winter show, Jan. 22-26.

On the casual floors—12 and 13 in Building C—traffic started a bit slow, but picked up speed. And throughout the showrooms, manufacturers seemed optimistic that 2017 will be a good year for the category.

“I’m hearing from the field, from the dealers, that the election is over and there’s going to be a change for the good for retail, and our retailers are seeing that already,” says Ted Scott, vice president, sales and marketing, C.R. Plastic Products. “So we had strong early buys already. Dealers are saying this is going to be a really good year.”

Many agreed the election had an impact on business last year, with uncertainty about the outcome and policies of the new administration leading some to be a bit more conservative.

EbelMonaco Collection by Ebel

“We had a percentage of accounts who said let’s wait for the election,” says Reid Roney, vice president, sales and marketing, The Hammock Source. “Now they say, let’s wait for the first 100 days and see.”

Roney says his company—which manufactures in the United States and imports some products from abroad—is well-positioned to handle possible changes from the new administration, such as additional taxes or tariffs.

New and Notable

While the timing of the winter Las Vegas Market—after many outdoor dealers have already made their big buys for the season—means few companies roll out new products, there were some exceptions.

Ebel launched a new collection for the first time at winter market. Its Monaco collection, a contemporary woven group, includes dining, chat and lounge seating. It features clean lines in on-trend gray and several other finishes. Ebel’s National Sales Manager Mark Bottemiller says Monaco is ideal for the contract market, which is a big part of the Vegas buying contingency.

California UmbrellaPowersol by California Umbrella

The new Eddie Bauer outdoor line by Kannoa also made its debut this market. The line includes three groups: Traverse, a woven mixed-material group; Adventure, a powder-coated aluminum group with synthetic wood inlays; and Windmere, a rustic collection with acacia wood frames wrapped in a rope weave.

California Umbrella launched its Powersol series of umbrellas, which feature a three-plug charging station powered by solar panels on top of the canopy.

“Our umbrellas are essentially a sun blocker, so why not go on top and capture some of that energy,” says Brian Sanches, vice president, sales and marketing, California Umbrella.

Sanches says the umbrellas, which have the battery power to charge for five to seven hours depending on sunlight, have drawn a lot of interest from contract clients and even universities, which like the ability to allow students to plug in their laptops to work outdoors.

See Related Post: Vegas Highlights Slideshow


Trend Spotting

While bold colors and blues are still hot in casual, softer pastel hues popped up in showrooms throughout the market from lavenders on Lexington’s Tommy Bahama Outdoor furniture to sea foam greens in Summer Classics.

At Mallin Casual Furniture, a new pink and gray Sunbury fabric softened the angular lines of the contemporary Madeira collection. Bryon Stewart, Chicago showroom manager, admits the fabric isn’t for everyone, but for certain areas, these colors are really trending now. “I’m not a brown or beige person,” he says. “This is more of an urban look—this is for the California and Florida market.”

MallinMallin Casual Furniture

Modern, contemporary looks continue to grow in popularity, as seen in just about every casual showroom at market. From the sleek Creighton group at OW Lee to the clean-lined and small space-scaled Nautic Café dining set at Polywood, contemporary collections drew a lot of attention.

At Three Birds Casual, the company works to offer modern looks without alienating the more traditional customer. Their latest collection, Avanti—a stainless steel and teak contemporary group—features a modern look with a more universal appeal.

“We don’t want to go overboard with it,” says Tad Varga, president, Three Birds Casual. “We’ve had people who want really traditional, and then we have those who want something really contemporary, so we’re trying to appeal to both.”

See Related Post: Live from Las Vegas Market Video Coverage 

While colors and styles differ, one common trend running through all the showrooms was an upbeat attitude about both the health of the industry and the year to come.

“I’m very optimistic. I’ve done this for too many years and have seen many different economies,” says Jim Sica, vice president, sales and marketing, Patiologic. “There’s always an excuse for this industry to do well; in 2008, the word was ‘staycation,’ and when the economy is good, we do great, too. We’re seeing people in other categories expand into patio, too. I think that says a lot.”

Image of Jennifer BringleJennifer Bringle | Features Editor, Casual Living

Jennifer Bringle is the features editor of Casual Living. She previously served as an editor and reporter at a number of publications, including Kids Today, AAA Living Magazine, The News & Observer of Raleigh and Carolina Parent. Her work also has appeared in The Washington Post, Southern Living, Our State and The News & Record of Greensboro, and she is the author of several non-fiction books for middle and high school-aged children.  Contact her at jbringle@casualliving.com

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