NYC RUG DISTRICT COMEBACK: NY HOME FASHIONS MARKET PROVES BEACON OF NEW SHOWROOM OPENINGS
Affirming the growing importance of NY Home Fashions Market shoppers, rug vendors opened year round showrooms in the textile and rug district. Top, Trans-Ocean, Momeni; Middle, Kalaty; Bottom, Rugs America and United Weavers.
NEW YORK -- New York City, once a mecca of area rug showrooms, sees a return to prominence with several new showroom openings -- but this time the lure is big box buyers and e-tailers shopping the busy NY Home Fashions Market in late September.
The home textiles show has become increasingly important to the area rug industry as the market continues to see sales shift to big box stores and online channels. Conversely, as rugs grew in importance to e-commerce leaders' bottom lines, more and more bed fashions companies added rugs to increase share with key customers. So while the number of appointments may not be as high in New York as at other shows, such as High Point, the volume of sales are significant enough for more rug vendors to open NYC showrooms for the fist time or expand their presence.
In fact, the fall witnessed five rug companies -- Kalaty, Momeni, Rugs America, Trans-Ocean by Liora Manne and United Weavers -- open new permanent spaces just in time for the upbeat fall event, all with an eye toward gaining a larger share of the market among the powerful top 50 retailers shopping the show. What's more, 2017 was equally as busy and saw Carpet Art Deco, Couristan, Feizy, HRI, Regence Home, and Rizzy Home commit to this New York event with showroom debuts or expansions - that on the heels of 2016 openings by Obeetee, Orian and Rugs America.
Stephen Hoberman, vice president of business development, left, and Charley Peck, principal, welcomed shoppers to Trans-Ocans new, permanent showroom at 267 Fifth Ave.
The latest activity reverses a trend that began nearly a decade ago following the 2008 recession and the transition of lower Fifth Avenue buildings from commercial to residential. At the time, many rug companies opted to either move their headquarters outside Manhattan, or to open permanent showrooms as well as temporary NY market spaces at 7 W. 34 St., which subsequently signed a 17-year lease for the entire building with Amazon.
By 2015, industry icon Graham Head, vice chairman of ABC Carpet & Home, noted that "the oriental rug district in New York City is coming to an end after more than a half century as the preeminent center for antique rugs." He blamed the demise on ever-escalating rents in Manhattan, and to some degree on changing consumer tastes in area rugs, while pointing out that since the early 1940s, the oriental rug district in New York City had occupied the area between 28th-33rd streets, and was at one time a thriving hub for designers and collectors (read story).
And when HRI's headquarters building of 15 years converted to residential, necessitating a move in 22016 to a showroom just south of Herald Square, founder David Harounian told RugNews.com: "The Rug District has virtually disappeared. It's a completely different landscape from when I started dealing in antique rugs in 1964. Rug dealers who once dominated the area have either gone out of business or moved to smaller warehouses and offices in New Jersey or Long Island. None of the major rug dealers are in the neighborhood now," (read story).
Well it seems those days are over, and the return to the Rug District comes as many importers are expanding their offerings to cater to Millennials and online retailers.
Below, in this industry exclusive, RugNews.com toured the latest showrooms additions to the Big Apple and queried rug execs about the growing importance of this semi-annual event to the bottom line.
The expansive showroom brings Kalaty back to NYC with a airy space at 295 Fifth Ave.and an assortment designed for a broad range of retailers.
According to Ariel Kalaty, principal, the company is back in Manhattan to service local New York clients and to provide easier access for customers during NY rug and textile markets.
"We had a presence in the city at Park Avenue and 30th Street forever - over 20 years," Kalaty says. Like many in the rug industry, the company moved to 7 West 34th Street, then moved out of Manhattan when the entire building was leased to Amazon. Kalaty has been operating a to-the-trade showroom at its Long Island headquarters, "but this is more convenient for dealers and designers who are short on time. We'll be open during shows and by appointment throughout the year."
At the home textile industry's 295 Fifth Avenue hub, Kalaty's 1,700-foot showroom focuses on new releases and fresh directional fashion. "Our recently expanded rug collections include even more variety in designs, colors, weave types and custom capabilities, which makes our return to New York City all the more exciting," Kalaty explained.
"We can show a great range of our designs here, from machine-made all the way to hand-knotted silk. Even though our machine-mades are brand new, we're already getting furniture stores and rug stores. I think everyone wants a range of price points. These are better machine-mades -- it's just a start and we're going to expand it."
The new Kalaty showroom highlights the company's latest designs and offers a year-round presence in the city for private appointments.
The Momeni logo, redesigned in 2018, takes center stage in its 30th Street showroom windows at the front of the space, which features a seating area anchored with the latest area rugs.
Based in nearby Carlstadt, New Jersey, Momeni makes its 30th Street showroom in New York City a permanent location, which will be open year round by appointment. And, the space received a makeover to allow Momeni to better display rugs and meet with buyers during the fall 2018 installment of New York Home Fashions Market and beyond.
"The New York showroom brings us back to our roots," Reza Momeni told RugNews.com. "When Momeni was founded in 1975, we were in the heart of the rug district and we are happy to have a permanent house in New York again."
The company had a booked schedule throughout the textiles market and Momeni said he expects the show to help the rug manufacturer see a "very strong fourth quarter." Showcased on the an expansive wall of display racks were several collections new to New York buyers, as well as expansions to its popular license program with the Novogratz, including the flat-woven Topanga, made in India of all wool, and Indio, a range textural high-low geometric designs.
"This is more of a market value-driven show, so we concentrate on the machine-made, lower-end tufted, and scatter rugs they are looking for."
Full collections of new designs curated for NY Home Fashions Market buyers are on display at Momeni's light-filled new showroom.
Rugs America moves to a larger showroom in 295 Fifth Avenue to showcase its broad assortment of area rugs and its sweeping new Cosmopolitan license program.
Rugs America opened a 295 Fifth Ave. showroom in 2016, with an official debut during the spring 2017 textiles show -- and quickly outgrew that space. So for the fall 2018 market, the Long Island-based company unveiled a showroom 2.5 times larger than the prior location. The relocation affords ample space to prominently display a new CosmoLiving by Cosmopolitan magazine collaboration, which offers shoppers more than 100 designs to choose from, said Bill Staubitzer, executive VP.
CosmoLiving, which formally launched its furniture and decor line in September, will be sold exclusively online at Wayfair, as will the the power-loomed, fashion-driven rug line. The affordably priced assortment is designed to appeal to Cosmo readers.
Added Aaron Hakimian, president of Rugs America, "Rugs America has branched out from being solely an area rug manufacturer to also include items such as kitchen, bath, utility and outdoor mats, pet textiles and faux furs. With our growing collections and new brands, the move to a larger space was necessary to adequately portray the array of different products we offer."
Organized by product category, the new Trans-Ocean Manhattan showroom greets retailers with its themed and colorful coir mats and showcases coordinating pillows.
According to Charley Peck, principal, the new, permanent Trans-Ocean showroom 267 Fifth Ave. is for the convenience of New York Home Fashions Market customers. "We won't be back here until March, because the retailers we work with on proprietary product want to meet with Liora in her design studio, which is at her to-the-trade showroom at the uptown D&D Building," he explains.
Adds Stephen Hoberman, vice president of business development, "Obviously this is a destination space for the market; we want to keep it a workshop space so we can show the different qualities what we have, what were capable of doing, and then sit down and collaborate."
"Generally that's our core business: collaboration. That's our goal at this market: it's not about selling inventory; it's more about meeting with bigger customers and planning. Generally that's our core business: design and collaboration, and proprietary product for customers.
At the NY Home Fashions Market, Hoberman says the company works with customers on machine made product and indoor-outdoor product, as well as its utility business. "In general we are looking for a unique perspective. We see a lot of overlap out there in terms of design and color. We try to stand out - to differentiate by being truly designed. From a technology standpoint, I think we are pretty much ahead of the curve, especially in indoor outdoor, and some of our machine made stuff. We want to innovate; we're always ahead of the market in terms of technology."
"But at this market," Hoberman adds, "we're serving so many different customers that several of our introductions are also based on value. At this point we are developing a lot of product. There are just so many different types of customers here, that what we're doing is a good, better, best story."
The showroom layout opens with coir mats printed in themes from holiday designs to pets and coastal. Next are piles of machine-made and indoor-outdoor rugs, washable indoor-outdoor mats as well as an array of decorative pillows.
To illustrate the good, better, best philosophy, Peck points to new cutout indoor-outdoor mats with scalloped edge which previewed simultaneously at the NY show and Casual Market Chicago, with the actual launch set for High Point. The mats, which retail at $49, follow a Liora Manne-designed innovation over a year ago: a cutout in-out rug called Visions IV Reef Border, with a retail of $700 in Manne's patented Lamontage process.
Buyers interested in Trans-Ocean's full size hand-tufted and machine-woven area rugs by designer Liora Manne can review them in a separate viewing room.
New York Market shoppers saw new designs from United Weavers' licensing partnership with Panama Jack.
United Weavers doubled-down in New York forgoing its usually temporary space in the Prince George Ballroom for a permanent location in 230 Fifth Ave. -- and the results are paying off, according to Michelle Curtin of United Weavers. Curtin, sales manager, told RugNews.com, "We usually get more customers at the fall New York market than we do in the spring. But we're seeing more traffic than ever before. Buyers really work this building," she explained.
In addition to walk-in traffic, which is unusual for this show, Curtin reported "a lot of appointments," with buyers responding to the new Bali collection, a next-generation version of the company's Bali collection but with a softer color palette. The line offers six designs in bright vibrant colors. One New York hit was Royalton, a viscose line with a tapestry feel at highly competitive $60 for a 5x8. A display of the company's licensed Panama Jack rugs caught buyers' eyes as did a new United Weavers logo, unveiled at the fall show.
Waverly opens its first home fashions showroom to show its cross category products including top of bed and Nourison area rugs.
Waverly, a Nourison license partner, opened a standalone showroom on the 12th floor at 295 Fifth Ave., after testing a pop up shop at Nourison's Textile Building showroom at the spring 2108 event. Part of Iconix Brand Group, Waverly, at that time, showcased its bed and window fashion by Ellery Homestyles in sets anchored with Nourison rugs. Other licensees featured were York (wallcovering), Beatrice (shower curtains and bath accessories), and Morgan (kitchen and beach). Waverly currently counts 20 partners in its stable of licensees.
"We have a steady stream of appointments, and are excited about this space - not just for New York Market, but throughout the year," said Lauren Steinke, senior VP of home at Waverly owner Iconix Brand. Explaining that much of Waverly's home business is custom-tailored with programs exclusive to specific retailers, Steinke added: "This showroom gives us the opportunity to create cross-merchandised displays for customer presentations." If Belk comes in, for example, she said the entire space would be decked out to show products developed just for them in inspirational settings.
At the recent market, displays featured classic Waverly looks punched up with fashion colors geared to bring Millennials into the fold. "This is not your mother's Waverly ... We think it could be a hit with Millennials and buyers are looking to capture the Millennial customer. We want to show that Waverly is new and fresh."
Waverly showcases it licensed outdoor and garden décor in a vignette anchored by an indoor-outdoor area rug from Nourison.