Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fabulous Fabric Forecast

Today we are with John and Nick Lomangino, star sales reps at the major Interior Design fabric houses of Kravet and Lee Jofa. What we really want is to hear "what's going on NOW?"

1. What exactly are your clients asking for in today's design climate?
As you know, Kravet offers a wide range of product. Designers are asking for fabric that is in stock, furniture and carpet with quick delivery and a price point that is desirable.
2. We all hear so many things...since September '08 how has the fabric and furniture market really fared? Did nesters keep spending regardless?
The Luxury Market declined right after September 2008. Our top designers in metro New York were able to hold their own all through 2009. Our smaller designers had more difficult. However, many remained positive and made adjustments to their businesses. Designers still had loyal customers and projects through 2009 to keep them afloat. Overall, we were able to make it through the worst and are starting to see an upward incline of projects and sales. 2010 will be a better year and we will see a much larger increase in sales in the Luxury Market.
3. Honestly - -how many of your clients insist that their purchases be green?
Many designers have clients asking about Eco-Friendly fabric. We offer a small collection of Green Fabric which is truly all Green. We are seeing an increase in sales every month in Green product. We feel it's an important category to be in!
4. Of course the other stir is that blue is the new green (our oceans); have you heard of any or is there any product development in that direction now?
As of now there has been no discussion of Blue. We are usually leaders in the industry when it comes to trends. Maybe in the near future!
4A. What colors are really hot now? Which ones are over?
Right now many designers are using naturals, earth colors and blues. They are looking to freshen up the home atmosphere and make it a more relaxing, comfortable setting. It seems that dark colors such as browns, reds, blacks, etc... are a fading trend. Designers are looking for an optimistic approach when decorating. To make the client's home a place of rest, ease and grace; separating the outside world from the inside.
5. We all depend on our repeat clients; the question is how do YOU grow your client base?
Growing our account base is difficult. We service NYC, Westchester, Rockland, and Greenwich CT. We concentrate on our accounts regularly. We try to build a rapport and provide the best service possible. We offer them a wide range of assorted product and price points. As Barbara Berry stated in an interview with Kravet's Newspaper Inspired, "she is looking to grow deeper with her existing clients." That's what we do on the road. As for finding new accounts, networking and spending time in the Kravet / Lee Jofa showroom will enhance our account base. If you are loyal to your client, they too will be loyal to you!!!

6. Is there any pressure for you to sell to those who do not have a designer?
We only sell to the trade. Designers, Architects, Upholsters. If the end user tries to purchase our product we will direct them to a designer in their area.

7. How is the "product in demand today" different from 5 years ago?
Designers want product to be in stock. To wear like iron and to be reasonability priced. Clients (end user) are more savvy and are looking for quality. They are thinking twice before purchasing. They want to make sure they are paying for what they are getting.

8. Do the major fabric house consult with each other (forecasting / product development) or is all kept very close to the vest? Do you think there are industry spies?
As for Kravet, It's all in house. It’s a family owned business... fourth generation… over 90 years in business. We have a large design team, product development department, marketing department and sample book department. The Kravets travel the world to different mills and countries looking for new product, ideas and designs. We don't relinquish our secrets! However, I'm sure it gets leaked once in awhile!

9. What kind of efforts these days do you make to hang on to your loyal clients?
Every effort! We offer our top accounts concierge privileges, discounts, rebates, free sampling, free sample books, free marketing items, etc. We also offer our smaller accounts similar privileges. We make every attempt to services them to their every need and provide tools needed to complete the project.

10. When do you think we'll see chintz in a big way again? I mean, really - -just look at those wings upon wings in the Old Guard showrooms - -does it move? (If so who's buying it?)
Chintz does sell! Lee Jofa has a large library of hand blocked/ hand screened chintzes. Right now chenille's, textures, solids....any staple are more popular with designers. The look right now is modern/transitional. I'm sure in the next 10-15 years chintz will make a splash once again. We see a repeat in trends every 10-20 years.
Thank you so much, guys. Anytime a colleague needs a crack sales rep you KNOW I'll be pointing to you!