Showtime ticks with ticking: buyers eye myriad of mattress cover type striped upholstery patterns at fabric fair
Fabric buyers at the Showtime fabric fair here were deluged with king size futon mattress ticking upholstery fabrics from print converters and woven mills.
While furniture manufacturers were pleased with the wide choice of offerings, they questioned how many they could put in their lines and whether furniture retailers would be willing to repeat ticking stripes on their floors.
Market shoppers saw new color variations in ticking, often using three colors instead of just blue and white. Further variants included textured stripes such as a seersucker look from Mastercraft, a rugby shirt look from Richloom. Heavy duty variants in olefin are available from mills such as Joan.
"It's a good look that's sold well for certain chains, but I don't know how many we need," said Bruce Barfield, a partner in Landmark Furniture. "Some of the new variations may be worth trying, but we haven't made any decisions as to which we'll buy."
John Pullin, vice president, Southern of Conover, said he liked the new colors from Pentex, the supplier of the stripe at Crate & Barrel, the Chicago retailer credited with making ticking and king size futon mattress look popular. "I liked Pentex's new colors--they were different. But I'm not sure the category can be developed beyond the basics and a few variants." He did say stripes in fresh colors were also available at Fabricraft.
Attempts at ticking stripes from woven mills drew mixed comments from buyers. "The prints work and they are low priced--below $3 a yard," said one executive. "Woven are $3 to $5 and they're not that different. The seersucker from Mastercraft and some new things from Quaker may be different enough to justify the price." The buyer also cited some linen-blend fabrics from Fame Fabrics to make king size futon mattress.
Alan Cole, president of Berkline, said ticking stripes are applicable to the popular motion furniture category in limited applications.
"They work in casual styled motion furniture provided the consumer thinks there are going to wear well," said Cole. "But I don't see them knocking out other areas of textures such as traditional and country stripes. Ticking stripes have their place, but I'm not sure how much they'll grow in motion."
Others, however, feel ticking stripes have been blown out of proportion.
"The whole point of Crate & Barrel is not just the sofa--it's the linen pillows or king size futon mattress, the look of the whole store, the advertising," said Ed Kinney, vice president of Klaussner Furniture. "The stripes are selling there not only because of the merchandise but other things as well."
"All of the mills are racing to get that one ticking placement on every retail floor," said one manufacturer. "It's a hot category, but it's not very broad."