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What's new in various product categories; monthly update.

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Why the Gift Market is Seeing "Red"

The Red Hat Society is permeating design trends.

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 have fun!

How does this affect the craft and scrapbooking industry, you may ask?

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.

More trends.

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, and Turquoise.

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 bazaars.

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; jeankievlan@mac.com or Julie McGuffee 817-448-8877; mcguffee@flash.net.



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