Thursday, October 1, 2009

THE LIFE OF FABRIC

Wesco Fabrics Warehouse Clearance Sale

Our biannual clearance sale, October 14 & 15, will attract designers from around the country to our Denver warehouse. Savvy shoppers search for super low priced treasures on decorative fabrics, furniture and accessories from around the globe. We even have silks as low as $3.00 a yard! This is a bitter sweet event for me. Of course I am happy that a discounted item finds a good home, but on the other hand it shows the transitory nature of the decorative home furnishing business. Decorative fabrics definitely have a lifespan. The life of a fabric is determined by the whims of the marketplace, color and style changes, the economy, the method and distribution of sampling, the support (continuity) of the mill, and of course whether designers and their clients liked it. Risks are taken in the buying process with home runs and the occasional strike outs. It is important to read regional preferences and the zeitgeist of the market. Follow along as I take you through the fabric buying process from the beginning to the end.

The fabric search begins at textile fairs around the world.

Marla makes sure the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed on our orders.

Programming the line and laying out new products for the next season.

The calculating guesswork begins.

Are the patterns on the money? Are they scaled correctly for proper sampling? Are they priced right? Is the mill reliable? Will the colors resonate? How much shelf space should we commit? So many questions and often times not many answers.

Too crazy or pretty cool?

When the economy is challenging it can be difficult to take risks on patterns that are esoteric. The line can be boring if we don’t stretch out and add some really exciting items to the mix.

Metallic silk appliqué.

I have to occasionally step outside my bubble and come up with something new and exotic. We definitely have a number of “signature” patterns.

Drapery damasks.

Damasks were first brought to the western world by Marco Polo in the 13th century. A bit basic, but well loved in the hinterlands of America.

Reference samples.

When a company has been in business for over 63 years there is a lot of accumulated buying history. It can often become a blur. “Do we already have this pattern?” “Don’t we have a twin to it in the line now?” The final editing process yields the pattern finalists. It’s like Heidi Klum saying “You are OUT!”

Samples ready to go.

One of the most expensive aspects of our company is the sampling expense. You do your best each season and hope that your customers like what you’ve done. For Fall 2009 we added the “Gentry Collection” along side our regular line.

Mistakes are made.

I loved “Wes Spot Check” when I purchased it a few seasons ago. It flopped! Sometimes you have to take your heart out of the process and use more brain. If you take risks there will be some mistakes,…but you will also get winners as well!

Happy designers!

These designers found some great buys and that really makes me very happy!

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