Nicole Crews -- Casual Living, 9/1/2012 2:00:00 AM
What's next on the horizon for the casual industry? Well, I don't have a crystal ball to predict what tomorrow will bring, but I've always liked what William Gibson had to say about it, "The future is here. It's just not widely distributed yet."
I think that's dead on when it comes to the fate of the outdoor furniture world - and you can see it evidenced in the very pages of this magazine. What's trending on the fringes today - whether it's color way or scale, sales tool or marketing method, manufacturing locale or purchasing process - will probably be in vogue in the eminent future and, eventually, mainstream. At least until the next idea, method or design movement comes along.
Take, for example, Lexington Home Brands becoming the licensee of Tommy Bahama Outdoor. Here's a brand with five full lines of furniture (including Tommy Bahama Home for indoor) adding outdoor furniture to its roster. The big boys are getting into the game - and guess what? They know what they're doing. Not only do they have upholstery know-how, they also have a lot of experience with fabric and furniture fashion. And they're at the forefront of bringing a nationally known brand outside of the industry to outdoor. That's certainly a trend to pay attention to!
More change on the o utdoor front is the Merchandise Mart's consolidation, move and redesign of the outdoor section of the Design Center in Chicago. We've got the architectural renderings to give you a look-see at acclaimed designer Gary Lee's vision.
We're also featuring the first in a three-part, non-consecutive series on the next generation of outdoor furniture executives. These guys are the ones implementing exciting new strategies in the workplace and bringing fresh eyes to an age-old industry.
Here at Casual Living we're making a few changes as well. We're debuting a department entitled Outdoor Stars this month and we're really excited about sharing the tips, ideas and projects put together by celebrity designers, landscape architects and furniture makers.
Next month we will be retiring Retail Milestones - a marvelous monthly depiction of tried-and-true retailers. We introduced Milestones in January 2011 on the heels of the recession in an effort to pay tribute to the survivors and reveal their strategies for staying in business during tough times. While we're not out of the woods yet, we feel that today's - and tomorrow's - retail environment is very different than it was even two years ago. So we're introducing a new retail department titled Modern Marketplace that showcases an array of purveyors of outdoor product. Certainly the future ain't what it used to be (to borrow from Yogi Berra), but it's a lot like what keynote speaker Robert Stevenson said at this year's Casual Living Conference, "If you don't like change, you're going to hate extinction."
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