Summer Atlanta Rug Market - August/September 2009

Not unexpectedly, traffic at this summer’s Atlanta Rug Market was slow again this year. While many of the big name retailers were present, not all key retailers attended. However, once again the big buyers came with a buying attitude. Most of the smaller buyers in attendance were from Georgia and surrounding southern states.

The most visible fashion trend this year was the shag rug, which was seen in all sorts of colors and color combinations. Colors continued to be centered on conservative neutrals along with earth and ocean tones like greens, browns and blues, with a few big names stepping out toward real deep reds and blues.

Overall, most firms anticipate an upward trend in sales for the January Rug Market.­Even if the economy is slow to recover, many retailers have been selling their inventory with minimal replenishment and this can only go on for so long before assortments begin to suffer. January is also when most new products are introduced and optimists are hoping to see the same pent-up demand we’ve experienced at the end of past economic recessions.

With the threat of the Las Vegas World Market Center, some firms are watching to see if the Atlanta Rug Show can hold on to its national stature as the premier location for rugs or if it risks becoming more of a regional show. Despite the fact that Atlanta has all the big name firms, an easy location, and in a sense the pulse of the industry, Las Vegas is still seen as an up and coming venue for interior furnishings and as a viable option for rug buyers. 

Shaw Living re-entered the woven wool business back in January, and in July it added 18 wool styles in a contemporary collection called Pacifica. Made for today’s sophisticated home, these machine woven New Zealand wool rugs feature an earth tone color line and some of the styles are hand sculpted. The suggested retail price for a 5x8 is around $1,100. Designer Phillip Crowe’s new collection, called Timber Creek, also caught our eye. These olefin rugs have a casual nature theme with animal prints and traditional botanical looks. There are 14 new styles in this collection, retailing for $600 for a 5x8. 

There are 12 new styles in Shaw’s Kathy Ireland collection, called Jardin du Jour (garden of the day). These machine made olefins have a classic color palette that include scarlet, vintage blue, beige and espresso. A 5x8 in this collection retails for $299.

Oriental Weavers introduced three new collections this year in Atlanta while expanding others. The most interesting was the Loft Collection, a shag style series machine woven out of OW’s own olefin yarn system. It comes in 22 colors and a variety of sizes. In the heirloom category, the Chobi Collection looks like traditional rugs from Pakistan and Afghanistan, with New Zealand wool machine woven construction representing a modern translation of the original. And finally, the Utopia Collection is made of a unique polypropylene/acrylic blend and features natural designs and lustrous accents throughout. 

Nourison unveiled a new merchandising program for its retail partners called Fifty to Infinity, allowing retailers to show as many as 100 SKUs in a small space with a minimal investment. Dealers have up to 450 designs to choose from. Fifty sizes in every pattern and 185 colorways for each design give the dealer an almost unlimited selection. Aiding again in space management, Nourison developed the Blanket Program, which shows six colorways on a blanket on full rug displays. New this year for Nourison are: Silk Garden, a New Zealand wool woven rug; Radiant Art, an 80% wool, 20% nylon rug; and City Limits, a 50% polyester and 50% acrylic.

Safavieh introduced its new lifestyle designer line, Safavieh Couture. Jamie Drake, David Easton, Suzanne Kasler and Thomas O’Brien collaborated for this line, which exhibits a range of traditional, contemporary, historical and classic designs. Also introduced was a 100% wool hand knotted rug line from Pakistan called Asian Fusion. On display was an antique reproduction of a silk Persian rug dating from the 16th or 17th century that sold for $4.45 million at Christie’s in New York. (about $729.87 per square inch!). The rug measures 5’7” by 7’7” and had been purchased by the late tobacco heiress Doris Duke in 1990. She left it to a foundation when she died. Elisabeth Parker, head of Christie’s rugs and carpets department, says there are only two other known rugs like it. 

North Carolina based Capel has been making rugs for 92 years and it offers the consumer a wide range of rugs from low to high end. We were drawn to a new hand tufted wool collection that comes from India and retails for $499 for a 5x8. Capel offers a zip ship service for its retailers so they don’t have to sell their samples. Also, actress Jane Seymour was on hand for part of the show to promote her outdoor line of natural jute rugs produced by Capel.

For some time, Milliken has been making licensed rugs for professional baseball teams as well as college and professional football teams but up to now was limited to 5x8 and larger formats. Just recently its agreement was expanded to include smaller format 2x3 and 3x4 sizes. This should expand its reach from dorm rooms to the higher volume door mat business. The firm is also doing well with a new juvenile collection targeting the school market.

828 International Trading Company introduced the Bellwood Collection. This transitional tufted wool rug offers an eclectic mix of styles with engaging design elements. The color palettes are rosy corals with eggplant and coffee, golden browns with pastel blue, and shades of amber with ivory. Many of the designs incorporate brilliant uses of black, which lend a striking touch. Another highlight for 828 is the Laguna line that was introduced earlier this year, a collection of machine made 100% heat-set polypropylene rugs. This Belgian import uses point-on-point construction and drop stitching to add strength and it gives Laguna a carved look. It boasts a one million point density and uses softer colors.

Due Process Stable Trading Company in the past year has developed a sophisticated sampling system, allowing dealers a new way to show more hand knotted rugs using a 27”x48” sample instead of investing in costly full size rugs. A typical 8’ display would have a 180 SKUs. Due Process keeps every shape, size and color in stock, with imports from India, China, Nepal and Pakistan. Earlier this year, Due Process entered into a joint venture by carrying Kravet Carpet’s Tufts Collection. These hand tufted rugs are high quality design originals by Barbara Barry and Barkley Butera, made from semi-worsted wool from New Zealand as well as wool/viscose blends, in cut or loop and with a great size selection. Due Process’ focus for its dealers is on design and color, sizes (up to16’x28’), and stock position. The company stocks everything so the dealers don’t have to.

It’s been 71 years since retailer Marshall Field started making its own machine made rugs under the Karastan brand name, and the brand is now one of the strongest among consumers for rugs. We weren’t surprised to see that its latest worsted New Zealand wool collection called Woven Impressions featured transitional patterns with the indigo blues, pepper reds, yellows and browns that consumers are drawn to today.  We also found it very interesting that Karastan is launching a collection of rugs with Mohawk’s exclusive Smartstrand triexta fiber called Mamma Mia. Both of these new products are produced at Karastan’s rug factory in Eden, North Carolina. A 5x8 in the Woven Impressions line retails for about $900 and in the Mamma Mia line around $400.

Couristan unveiled 30 new area rugs this July. Two new modern/transitional power-loomed collections, Baroque and Samarra, were added. Nature’s Element collection is a hand loomed rug to appeal to eco-conscious buyers and is crafted with natural fibers of jute, cotton, straw and grass. Couristan added fresh new designs to nine other lines representing current trends, from large scale Persian and damask patterns to freeform contemporary motifs. Like other exhibitors, Couristan’s shag lines drew a lot of attention. The line that seemed to get the most attention was the Recife Collection. These indoor/outdoor rugs are UV stable polypropylene and come in a variety of sizes including rounds and runners, 2x3 to 8’6” x 13’.

Orian Rugs introduced its12 color Shagadelic Collection. This collection uses a 12 color machine to produce a retro polyester variety of bright and psychedelic designs and color combinations. Orian Rugs is a 30 year old company in Anderson, South Carolina that specializes in big box, web and catalog buyers. 

Momeni, which recently moved its headquarters from Manhattan to New Jersey, continues to import area rugs from Pakistan, Iran, India and China. New at this market was a line of children’s rugs tailored for specific ages that range from infant to juvenile with themes like Little Mo. A 4x6 in this collection retails for $229. 

Copyright 2009 Floor Focus 

Related Topics:Shaw Industries Group, Inc., Karastan, Couristan, Mohawk Industries