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New York Gift Show Report

An upbeat show – and then Katrina.

by Ellie Joos, Ellie Joos & Associates (September 5, 2005)

As I write this report on the recent New York Gift Show, the television is on with continuing coverage from the Gulf Coast, and I am overwhelmed by the devastation and heartache confronting the residents of that area. I am also well aware of how the country as a whole will feel the reverberations in the near future, beginning with the price of oil to the extended impact on the price of everything made from plastic.

Had the gift show taken place this week, I wonder what the impact Katrina would have had on the buying activity at the show. I now wonder how many businesses, whether retailers or vendors, present at the show have lost everything, their businesses and saddest of all, their homes. I know I join millions of Americans in praying that our fellow citizens will emerge from this tragedy and be able to rebuild their lives with the help of each and every one of us.

Well as they say, life must go on, so I now continue to write my report on the Gift Show, the emerging trends, and some of the new products that I sincerely hope will be successful as we face the upcoming challenges in the near future.

Color and Pattern.

Those of you who have read my reports in the past know how strong I have felt about the green family. Move over green: shades of orange (see my report from the Paperworld/Christmas World show; click on the title in the right-hand column) have emerged. The orange I saw at this show was more of a burnt orange, not the colorful orange of the summer trend. It looked especially refreshing as a booth backdrop color. It is appearing in all kinds of products, from textiles to accessories.

In a recent European Preview show of trends for Fall/Winter 06 I attended, this color called "Pomegranate" was featured mixing with warm brown neutrals and bluish green shades.

Coral as a color looks great, and coral reef motifs were everywhere. Two’s Company, a vendor that is always right on with trends, had framed coral motifs in a booth with a brown-toned background. Coral reef motifs appeared on pillows, embroidered on linens and hand towels, and formed into chandeliers, sconces, lamps, salad servers, tableware, etc.

Ankasa, the husband and wife team of Sachin and Babi Ahluwalia, exhibited for the first time with the most exquisite line of decorative pillows and bedding, including embroidered coral motifs with beadwork as well as outstanding bold florals, geometrics, novelty fabrics, appliqués, and textures.

Brown also looked quite good as a booth backdrop in the Jonathan Adler booth. This designer exhibited a line of hand-crafted furniture and accessories, including his distinctive needlepoint and bargello pillows. (As yarn crafts get stronger, watch for a growing interest in these categories.)

In another booth, I especially liked the use of a warm caramel color with deep purple or amethyst, another emerging color this fall and looks to continue into next year.

In baby products, the overall color palette is softer; the colors have a dusted or opaque quality to them while still featuring baby motifs and patterns.

As for other patterns, geometric designs continue, florals, when evident were bold and graphic and Asian and Indian designs are growing. Beadwork and embroidery continues to be a featured embellishment. Especially beautiful were the beaded table accessories from Kim Seybert – simply gorgeous placemats, cotes, table runners, and napkin rings.

Craft Crossover.

At past shows, I have reported on the influence of the scrapbook industry on the gift show. At this show, I was not surprised to see how the interest in all things knitted and crocheted have impacted the gift/home market. Finished items reflected this direction and several companies also introduced their kits.

Alex Toys has expanded their popular yarn craft kits for kids to reflect the interest in this category. The packaging is very clever and the designs are timely, including a kit for a "pooch poncho" for girl’s best friend.

Tigo Enterprises, a company that already has a great line of suede products including a pencil set that made the "O" list, as in Oprah’s list of favorite products, has now introduced the Cup of Yarn. Picture a plastic cup like that used for a Starbuck’s Frappacino and imagine it instead filled with enough colorful yarn to make a Rainbow Sherbet Scarf with bamboo knitting needles coming out of the hole where the straw would be. Very Clever!

Style Hounds Handknits introduced kits for dog sweaters in great colors and vintage buttons or a zipper.

Remember the Magic has a delightful line of activity craft kits for kids featuring whimsical fairies, wands, and wizards. These nature-based activity kits are very appealing to adults as well as children.

Ribbons continue to be important as bows and rosettes in apparel and accessories, and Midori showed ar beautiful product line featuring new wide stripes and bias silk stripes. Also new was their gift wrapping papers in very elegant, upscale patterns.

The Great Outdoors.

The outdoor living space trend is getting stronger with more and more products for the patio, porch, lanai, deck, or terrace. Look for wrought iron, pottery, outdoor cushions, and decorative accents.

I reported on Potting Shed Creations in my last gift show report with their Garden in a Bag collection of herbs and flowers. This company has sprouted new varieties and designs and once again had one of the best press kits in the press room.

In apparel, Garden Frou Frou turned basic gardening clothing and accessories into a pretty collection using gorgeous fabrics and prints that are functional as well as fashionable.

Man’s Best Friend.

I’ve reported on the growth in products for our dog and cat family members. This continues as I mentioned above with knitted clothing.

Other products from City Dog introduced city specific and national guidebooks with all the important information when traveling with pets, from services and parks, to hotels that permit dog guests.

Planet Dog presented lines of unique pet toys, bedding, clothing and other accessories. This company also has several cause-related products with a portion of the proceeds going to cancer research organizations.

New and Noteworthy.

It is nearly impossible to see everything at this enormous show; however, two new products did stand out and I’m sure there were many others that I just did not have time to see.

Twenty2, an innovative wallcovering design company introduced Wallbands, a collection of bold, graphic, pre-pasted, very wide bands for the "creative modernist." Great colors and designs!

From Built NY, using neoprene, or wetsuit material, this company presented a fabulous line of brightly colored totes for beverages and food and introduced a baby line of bottle totes, bibs, and strolling totes in similar soft, washable fabrics.

The mood at the show was enthusiastic and optimistic, and I sincerely hope that this attitude is not diminished in the days, weeks, and months ahead as this country recovers from the horrific events of this past week affecting the thousands of people along the Gulf coast.

(Note: Ellie is president of Ellie Joos & Associates, a marketing, pr, and product development firm. To read Ellie's and others reports on other industry-related shows, click on the titles in the right-hand column. To contact Ellie call 908-459-9269 or email eleapple@hotmail.com.)



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