2019 CASUAL MARKET FORECAST:
BULLISH ON INDOOR-OUTDOOR RUGS
Rug fashion trends at Casual Market Chicago: Top row, Cane-line, Treasure Garden, Decorative Concepts. Middle, LR Resources. Bottom row, Trans-Ocean by Liora Manne, and Jaipur Living.
CHICAGO -- Whatever the economic forecasts, the indoor-outdoor rug industry is bullish, according to exhibitors and buyers at the 2019 Casual Market Chicago, Sept.10 - Sept. 13 at The Mart.
Neither fears of economic slowdown nor tariffs, prices nor increasing competition seemed to affect exhibitors, who see continued consumer growth in indoor-outdoor rugs. Style and design are taking on a more sophisticated, but casual, theme as rug companies increasingly look to furniture for their fashion clues.
Showing strong belief in the future of indoor-outdoor, several new and existing furnishings companies made their outdoor rug debut at the Casual Market. Market newcomers like LR Resources made its first appearance at Casual Market, as did The Rope Company, Art Carpet USA and Decorative Concepts, while successful indoor-outdoor rug purveyors Jaipur Living and Trans-Ocean returned with exciting new concepts. And the "granddaddy" of them all, the sophisticated Cane-line of Denmark, returned for its fourteenth year at the show -- though they've only shown indoor-outdoor rugs for six years.
The busy Casual Market Chicago 2019 was successful for new and returning indoor-outdoor rug exhibitors.
Overall trends seen and reported at market include:
-Growing design and color sophistication;
-An ongoing merger of indoor and outdoor decorating and design;
-Even greater popularity of the blues - from powder to royal to teal and myriad tones in between;
-The growth of grays, especially lighter hues;
-Sustainability efforts, though definitions vary widely;
-A new buyer-friendly merchandising concept;
-Prices are fairly stable as few outdoor rug producers source from China.
Jaipur Living's Matt Peterson poses in front of a feature wall at Casual Market Chicago with a montage of high fashion outdoor rugs. From left: Zenith from Polaris; 2019 award-winner Farra from Indie; a Lanai collection pinstripe, Limon from the Rebecca collection and Zhara from Indie.
The big trend noted by Matt Peterson, trade show manager, is that outdoor rug are looking more like indoor rugs, complementing high-end outdoor furniture. Outdoor rugs had generally been fairly basic high-low, power loomed in polypropylene fiber, but Jaipur Living has targeted its lines at the designer market and fashion-driven consumers. Made from PET yarn and other innovative performance yarns, the company's in-out rugs are a cut above in construction, design, styling and color.
Jaipur Living's Indie collection, featuring faded, distressed looks -- including Farra -- which received the ICFA's Design Excellence award -- has been well received by buyers. It retails around $150 to $175 for the 7'3" x 7'6" size. The Rebecca collection and Lanai collection have also been strong sales performers, Peterson said.
Most of Jaipur Living rugs are made in Turkey, Belgium and India, so the tariff situation hasn't affected prices; if anything, Peterson said, some prices are down a bit in power-loomed rugs. And for designers, a growing customer segment for the company, price is not as important as color, pattern and quality.
The Persian-inspired Zhara rug from the award-winning Indie collection by Jaipur Living is woven from weather-resistant polypropylene with the styling of a vintage indoor rug.
Chris Nilan of LR Resources was pleased with interest in the company's clean over-scale coastal and tropical designs in its first appearance at Casual Market Chicago.
LR Resources made its debut at the 2019 Casual Market, according to Chris Nilan, director, agency sales, "because our outdoor rugs were growing at a pretty rapid rate, and the outdoor retailers are important to us."
Pointing to three polypropylene rugs - one with blue sailboats on a neutral ground, another with oversized white pineapples on a green ground and one with a life-size palm tree -- displayed behind him, Nilan said buyers seem to really like the simpler, cleaner designs.
LR Resources is taking its design and color cues for trends in the outdoor furniture. "Say you've spent $10,000 on the outdoor furniture, you don't want your eye drawn down to the rug," Nilan said. "We're getting very good reactions here. People are coming by and saying, 'Who are you? Where have you been?'"
A detail of the Sails Up rug prominently displayed by LR Resources on a feature wall, shows the textural look and stylish blue and gray palette.
Nilan noted that retailers are appreciative of the company's price points: a 5x8 around $99 MSRP, $199.00 for 8x10, and $379 for a 9x12. There hasn't been much change in price, he said, because there isn't much fluctuation in the raw materials for polypropylene, unlike cotton, for instance.
Tariffs are a non-issue since LR Resources makes its rugs in Turkey, but is seeing a bit of a slowdown in delivery times because of increased demand from companies moving polypropylene rug production to Turkey. Where it used to take 65 to 70 days from production to US facilities, it now may be 110 to 120 days -- which means keeping larger U.S. inventories. After a successful launch at Casual Market, Nilan was already talking about a larger rug selection next year, maybe in a larger space.
Known for their rich-colored, luxurious jute Naturals collection, LR Resources could not resist showing a small sample rack for buyers looking for casual indoor products.
TRANS-OCEAN BY LIORA MANNE
Dean Smith of Trans-Ocean found strong response to coastal patterns like its Coral Boarder design, and to the company's new, easy to install display concept.
Trans-Ocean, long an exhibitor at Casual Market, unveiled an innovative new merchandising concept to make buying and display easier for retailers, and shopping easier for consumers --especially in non-traditional area rug outlets, including garden and patio stores, home centers and large specialty mass retailers.
Dean Smith, vice president of sales, reported very strong customer interest to the new concept: Trans-Ocean created five distinct rug collections, displayed on one long rack, and featuring some 250 rugs. Each rug is available in the two popular sizes, at the same retail price points -- (5x7.6 at $99.00 and 8x10 at $199 retail).
The collection concept allows buyers to easily select a style and specific rugs, and help differentiate them from mass merchants. The five collections offer 18-19 colorways per pattern, made in machine-woven and printed polyesters with lots of texture variation.
Agate, a marble-inspired design from the Carmel collection by Liora Manne for Trans-Ocean is fashion-right for indoor-and outdoor settings.
"Retailers love it," says Smith of the new merchandising concept. "Their business is in furniture but this allows them to easily select and add rugs. It's easy for them to pick out colors and patterns all in one place."
Color is still key in Trans-Ocean's indoor-outdoor rugs, especially blues -- from teal to deep sea blue and everything in-between. Popular designs vary depending on region of the country and geography, with lots of seashells, coral and other ocean life selling in coastal regions, more basic themes in the heartland -- though nautical is popular in homes near a lake or river, And southwestern motifs are good in desert areas. Various shades of gray are also popping up more often.
Jellies from the in-out Marina collection by Liora Manne for Trans-Ocean is hand-tufted of polyester and acrylic.
ART CARPET USA
Brent Grams, key accounts manager for first-time exhibitor Art Carpet USA, poses in front of the Everest Aqua indoor-outdoor rug from the textural Sun Blocker collection.
Based in Chatsworth, Georgia, Art Carpet USA made its first appearance at the 2019 Casual Market to expand its indoor-outdoor rug business.
"We're putting greater emphasis on indoor-outdoor carpet as the outdoors becomes an extension of the indoors," said John Brooking, president, noting that bright outdoor looks and large patterns are becoming less important. Instead, he says Art Carpet USA is paying homage to the colorways and trends in furniture.
Currently, five of Art Carpet's 26 collections are outdoor rugs, all polypropylene and priced to retail around $69.99 to $79.99 for a 5x8 flat weave, and $149.99 to $199.00 for a 5x8 cut pile outdoor rug.
On-point blue and grey make a striking outdoor rug from the Seaport collection by Art Carpet USA.
CANE-LINE OF DENMARK
Brian Djernes reports steadily increasing sales in the North American market over nearly 15 years at the Casual Market.
Cane-line of Denmark, which designs and produces high-end outdoor furniture, rugs and accessories, reports steadily increasing sales to the North American market during its nearly 15 years at the Casual Market.
"Furniture drives purchases, said Brian Djernes, director/CEO, and then rugs and accessories. We've had rugs for five or six years, and our rug sales are expanding a bit each year." The company has now added baskets in the same soft, pliable material as the rugs for a softer indoor touch.
On opening day, business became brisk within 30 minutes, and rarely let up, RugNews.com observed. "With factories primarily in Indonesia and Europe, prices are quite stable," Djernes said. Cane-line's furniture and rugs tend to the grays and neutral mid-browns, but Djernes sees colors getting a bit lighter -- moving from dark grays to a lighter shade.
On a cultural note, he notes that young people and customers are demanding environmentally friendly manufacturing, and Cane-line adheres to the ISO 14001 standard, putting all the extra pieces back into the shredder. "There is really no waste."
Djernes believes that instead of trying to pull so much plastic out of the ocean, it is important to create more sustainable products at the outset. "We make furniture to last 18 or 20 years, so we create sustainability to begin with," he said.
Designed in-house, the I-am carpet from Cane-line takes braided rugs a notch above, and is handmade in layers using the company's own Tex brand fiber.
Foss Floors offers a high end look with its Couture collection tiles at the 2019 Casual Market Chicago.
Foss Floors, manufacturer of outdoor rugs and tiles made of 100% post-consumer drinking bottles, introduced the company's new self-adhesive carpet tiles in its first appearance at Casual Market Chicago. Buyer interest was strong, said Brian Warren, executive vice president, sales and marketing.
Designed for outdoor/indoor installations, the tiles come in 24" squares, 18" squares and 9x36" planks in myriad styles and colors, retailing between $1.50 and $2.50 a square foot. They can be installed in a variety of indoor and outdoor locations, including entryway, deck or over an unattractive stretch of concrete.
The company, which makes all of its products in America (three plants in Georgia), sells to retailers, such as the large home centers, and direct to consumers. Foss Floors' area rugs range in size up to 6x8'.
At its first appearance at Casual Market Chicago, Foss Floors introduces its first self-adhesive soft surface in-out tiles.
Standing in front of a rug from the Supreme Vinyl flooring line, Bud Styles introduced Chicago Market shoppers to Decorative Concepts' new outdoor division, North River Limited.
Decorative Concepts, which manufactures wool rugs and carpets, rug corners, outdoor rugs and vinyl canvas, is a new company which debuted at Surfaces in January 2019, and exhibited at Casual Market Chicago under the River North Limited brand -- which is a new outdoor division.
Targeting a broad range of outdoor customers, North River features woven vinyl outdoor rugs, Decorative Corners (a patented rug corner product), and woven vinyl canvas for awnings.
The Supreme Vinyl Rugs are made in the U.S.A., available in seven patterns with multiple colorways, and are rated UV-stable and antimicrobial to stand up to sun, rain and birds, according to Bud Styles, national accounts manager for North River. The woven vinyl is offered in 8-foot width, standard rug sizes, and a custom rug program.
"We're selling to large retailers and home centers," said Styles, "but we're not selling online or direct to consumers. Styles was pleased with the company's first Casual Market appearance.
First-time exhibitor Decorative Concepts offers woven vinyl rugs in standard and custom sizes in designs like Platform in the Sunbleached colorway.
Candy Chase, national sales manager, shows one of her favorite new rug patterns during the very busy Casual Market - Treasure Garden's Edge Chili of polypropylene multi-ply cabled heat-set yarn.
Treasure Garden, a well-known producer of residential and commercial umbrellas, offers small but carefully culled Gold and Silver rug collections to complement its traditional lines, generate additional profits and help their furniture and umbrella buyers put together a coordinated package.
"We've added new patterns in both the Gold and Silver series," said Candy Chase, national sales manger, standing against one of her favorites -- Edge Chili (Gold Collection) in grey-browns with a cranberry-accented border. In the Gold series, new too is Ombre Taupe in horizontal bands shaded in blacks, grays and brown, as well as Tile Fog, a handsome checkerboard of greys in different patterns.
In the Silver series, Geo Black, a small hexagonal pattern in silver-gray and black, also reflects a sophisticated use of blacks and grays. Silver collection rugs are woven from UV stable polypropylene. All rugs are 5x7 and 8x10.
Treasure Garden showcased the Geo Black design from its Silver collection polypropylene at the 2019 Casual Market Chicago.
THE ROPE COMPANY
Renee Nicoletta, director of operations at The Rope Company, was pleased with response to the company's inaugural appearance at Casual Market Chicago.
Casual Market newcomer The Rope Company of Warren, Maine is the offspring of a company that provided hand-woven rope for lobster traps still used by Maine lobstermen. The lobster trap rope business was sold, and today's company is run by fifth-generation lobsterman Logan Rackliff and his wife Hannah, who design and produce hand-woven mats.
The Rope Company, six years old, displayed a variety of colorful mats ranging in size from 18x30" to 26x50", which can be used as doormats on a porch or outside the garage, in the mudroom or basement. Custom sizes are available. The company also unveiled a line of rope baskets.
Renee Nicoletta, director of operations, was pleased at the traffic and the interest during the show. "We sent out e-mails before the show, and saw some existing customers, but we also saw a number of new prospects as our business expands west," she said. "We sell to high-end garden stores and mom-and-pop retail stores."
And while many manufacturers talk about sustainable, durable and weatherproof qualities, The Rope Company is the real deal: its marine grade rope has been used by lobstermen for years.
Popular with garden centers and mom and pop stores, mats woven by The Rope company from lobster trap rope debut at Casual Market Chicago.