What's new in various product categories; monthly
Why the Gift Market is Seeing "Red"
The Red Hat Society is permeating design
by Jean Kievlan and Julie McGuffee (January, 2004)
Our recent trip to Dallas Gift Market reinforced a trend we’d
noticed some time ago. The Red Hat movement has completely overtaken
the gift market, and we expect to see crossover into virtually every
market including crafts and scrapbooking.
For those of you who may not know what all the "hoopla"
is about, you’ll be glad to hear "being Red" doesn’t
have a thing to do with Communism! The Red Hat phenomenon started
three years ago when one woman gave a Red hat and a copy of the
famous poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph to a friend who was
somewhat dismayed about her 50th birthday. The poem extols the
virtues of growing old, and contains the now famous line, "When
I am old, I shall wear purple, and a red hat which doesn’t go and
doesn’t suit me...."
It soon became a tradition among a small group of friends to give
each other Red hats for their 50th birthday. A newspaper picked up
the story, then others as it ran in syndication. Then there was the
feature on The Today Show and the proverbial Red Hat was out
of the bag! Women from all over the country wanted to start a Red
Hat chapter in their area. To date, the Red Hat Society, formed by
Sue Ellen Cooper, has local chapters everywhere! These ladies get
together dressed in their Red hats and Purple dresses to have lunch,
shop, go to the theatre, virtually and group activity where they can
How does this affect the craft and scrapbooking industry, you may
With 42 million women over the age of 50 as potential members,
certainly this is an expansive market who will take pictures at
functions to scrapbook, and who will want to decorate hats and
clothing, send invitations – get the picture?
You’ll probably see a lot of Red Hat products stuff at the
upcoming HIA Show, and there will probably be a lot more of it
"under the table." (Candamar, for one, will have Red
Hat-licensed cross stitch kits.)
For more information on these Red Hatters, we suggest you Google
"Red Hat". Ebay alone has over a thousand Red Hat items.
It’s clear to see we’ll all soon be seeing Red.
The Girlfriend/Best Friend trend continues to grow stronger, with
its emphasis on a much younger audience. We noted a Chocolat
(the wonderful movie) influence – Pink, Brown, Black & White,
as well as lots of bright pastels, Bright Pink, Yellow, Lime Green,
Both these trends play heavily on the same design images for
hats, purses, shoes. And let's not forget feathers and boas.
The "bistro" look – chefs, waiters, wine, grapes –
continues in popularity. In fact, we noticed a return of the French
Provence look with roosters, chocolat, high fashion models,
nostalgic dress patterns, and posters gracing everything from
dinnerware to home dec.
Cats were definitely the animal du jour. For those of you who
know Jean, this is a happy event! Cat plaques, clocks, figurines,
garden decorations, wood items, wearables, stationery, pillows,
knitted throws – virtually any surface was available was available
with a cat motif. Several large showrooms had entire cat
collections. It seems that it’s no longer "The Cat in the
Hat, but now The Cat in the Red Hat". You guessed it, a line of
Red Hat cats. Cats, it seems, will be a great "cat"-egory!
Let’s not forget initials. These have been around a while, but
we didn’t see any decline in the category. Initial jewelry,
charms, bracelets, "sliders", you name it, or shall we
say, spell it!
Getting back to purses (where the money is), we must note that
purses were also repeated in gift bags, stationery, and paper and
party items. In fact, we expect this whole purse thing (Red Hat,
Girlfriend and Initial look) to make the "purse" one of
the most popular icons of 2004.
Tag motifs were seen featured on everything from dolls to lamps,
hat boxes, and "artsy" home dec items. In fact, the
Midwest Imports showroom now has a line inspired by noted
"Tag" art designer Sarah Lugg. We expect tags to continue
as a popular decorative accent in both scrapbooking and general
crafts, and you’ll probably see a lot more in home dec, too.
A new trend report wouldn’t be complete without mention of
tassel dolls, probably related to the popularity of tassels as a
home dec accessory. And of course, there is a Red Hat tassel lady!
Taking a little jaunt eastward geographically, we noted design
elements, colors, and shapes that were different than we had seen
before. New conical shapes were popular as hanging candles and
lights, and there were sheer, billowy ribbon lampshades, beaded
curtains and tassels (again), and jewel-tone hanging glass items.
This look was repeated in fabrics, pillows, and other home dec
items. Different than your typical Indian or Pakistani items, this
look made us think of "Arabian Nights" and Middle Eastern
Blown glass, art glass, Murano-glass looks were everywhere. More
glass then we had seen in a while. We also noted that these were
being sold in groupings. Another item to note: we saw a couple of
lines of of ceramic and tile which featured thin, raised outlines,
similar to a very thin, delicate piped icing. It will be interesting
to see if this design element expands in popularity.
Knitting has become the "in" thing to do, and the
knitted look is influencing everything from Christmas ornaments to
home accents. Look for knitwork as a texture element in design.
Leather strapping was noted combined with wood, other textiles,
and as design element combined with other natural elements.
Think bundles. Bundles of twigs, grasses, flowers, bamboo – in
fact, any "gathering" from nature was featured in
"a-bundle-ance." Simple yet elegant, a nice look.
These are just a few insights we noted, hopefully, we can sift
out a few more for another article after HIA. In the meantime, want
to increase your profits in 2004? Think Red. These Red Hat ladies
are at an age when their children are grown, and they have
disposable income and time. Red Hat could be the best news the craft
industry has had in a long, long time!
Note: Jean Kievlan and Julie McGuffee are the Creative Team
of Kievlan-McGuffee Design Services, Inc., in business together
since 1996. As noted consultants and designers in the craft and
scrapbooking Industries, their services include new product
development, project design, packaging, merchandising concepts,
consulting services, and turn-key publishing services for their
popular Slim-Line Booklets, which retail for .99 cents each..
For more information contact: Jean Kievlan 817-797-4707; firstname.lastname@example.org
or Julie McGuffee 817-448-8877; email@example.com.