October 23/30, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 10
By Reginald Tucker
Fashion and style play a key role in the development of today’s floor covering products, and hardwood is no exception. While the correlation is well documented, many would also argue that the development of hardwood looks, patterns, colors and styles are largely a function of regional tastes irrespective of overarching, global fashion trends. The key for many suppliers, experts say, is finding just the right balance.
“Wood flooring trends have a bigger connection to regional trends more so than fashion trends,” said Joe Amato, vice president of residential styling, Mannington. “An example would be areas of the Midwest region that is still supporting refined rustic looks, but sections of the East Coast now moving to urban looks that are less rustic, with less character.”
With the tendency for fashion trends to literally come and go, how does one go about developing a product lineup several years in advance of product roll-outs that might not be in tune with regional or local tastes by the time the products are officially launched? “The biggest challenge is always developing a product inspired by a home fashion trend that’s too early for the market,” Amato explained, citing the rise in popularity of the color gray in markets around the world prior to catching on in the U.S.
Accurate trendspotting not only applies to pinpoint, precise color forecasting. As Amato explained: “In addition to color we follow wood formats, surface texture, wood species and surface gloss and try to time the development to the market needs. You don’t always need to be the first but you need to be ready to respond when the timing is right.”
That begs the question: Are retailers truly conscious of the correlation between fashion and styling with respect to how they prospect or close sales on a daily basis? If retailers embrace the fashion story in simple terms of current home fashion trends, according to Amato, they can truly justify and sell the corresponding looks and styles from the manufacturers. “Mannington goes to great lengths to create hardwood products that coordinate with the popular home fashion trends, but we need the retailer to emphasize the connection. We try to provide retailers the necessary tools to educate the consumer and tell the fashion story to make it a part of the selling experience.”