A first glance at 2020: newly arriving textiles…

How easy (but how monotonous) it would be if the talk of upcoming collections had a clear theme, one that were easy to identify and illustrate. It is no coincidence that, in reality, the famous “trends”, beyond the obligatory poetry to justify the effort, for years now have been nothing more than a reshuffling of all the principal colors, simply reassembled in different arrays with very imaginative titles. But beware: saying “everyone does everything” is a simplistic and superficial interpretation. It is more correct to say: “at the fair you can find everything” because the range of offerings is so broad that you will find pretty much all the possible solutions in terms of aesthetics, materials, stylistic inspiration, and decoration. But this broad range of solutions hides—albeit not very successfully—an extreme amount of specialization by each firm, whether the specialization is a question of market strategy, history, company personality, or something else. There are weavers or drapers that still try to cover every segment, however small, of customer demand in the hope of remaining a key landmark on the buyer’s map, within a rationale of partner more than simple supplier. But business seems increasingly to be moving toward a blend of the two trends: seeking a partnership approach but starting from an increasingly specialized position and thus specific reliability.

And this is precisely what seems to be the most common behavior among the companies taking part in Proposte. This is partly because, according to the comments we have collected, there are few who believe in the possibility of opening new markets in the very short term; everyone is opting for a period of consolidation, of strengthening existing relations. So it is smarter to invest in improving on what one already knows how to do well.

Investments are made in compositional materials and combinations of fibers according to the designs to compose (Luna Home/Clerici & C.) for increasingly challenging and exciting weaves/patterns. Those who are already going strong with natural fibers (Nelen & Delbeke) tend to refine their established materials and experiment with new ones (hemp is increasingly in vogue…). Vivacity of color in any sort of media is the distinctive trait identifying the personality of some (Ratti). And an emphasis on using recycled materials and thus being solidly in the field of eco-sustainable production is one of the most respected approaches (Cavelli).

There are many who talk a lot about this last topic even though—and this must be said—not all are convinced that it is such an important matter for home furnishings customers. Unfortunately—and we say “unfortunately” because we were hoping that the high end of home fabrics and drapery consumption was somewhat above the tactics of an all-out price war—the thing underscored by everybody is the fact that the price variable is what consumers watch and consider most closely. A heavy disincentive to any form of investment in research and development of new products.

If we take a good look, things have not changed substantially with respect to past years: nevertheless there is more focus on the difficulties. There is a vague sense that it will inevitably become increasingly difficult to survive in this market. We will see if this impression is borne out after the fairs. We dearly hope not!

So let us begin to take a look at the fabrics we will see this coming year.

We will start with Cavelli. The Lombard draper puts the accent on two themes: the prominent use of recycled materials and fibers, and a collection using the trendiest natural material, hemp. Very similar in effect, weight, and degree of transparency to pure linen, hemp is offered in eight natural colors and distributed in a width of 310 cm (Photo 1). The other two creations are blends of polyester with a high percentage of recycled material—more than 50% overall. One is a heavier version, at 160 grams per square meter and a width of 300 cm in a jacquard weave (Orvieto collection) and five colors (Photo 2). The other—Ravenna—is lighter, 85 grams and 330-cm wide, available in sixteen different solid tones (Photo 3).

Moving on to the colors and prints of Ratti—and others as well, as we shall see—the producer from Como proposes a trio of very different creations that still bear some kinship to one another in the undeniable power of their colors and decorative motifs. We start with a medium-weight (615 grams) jacquard velvet in a viscose-cotton blend (64%-36%) offered in the classic width of 140 cm (Photo 4), made using a screen printing technique (combination of metallic pigments and reactive dyes) and with an excellent Martindale score (50,000 rubs). Next is an elegant and refined fabric known as Toro, a decoupé jacquard in 100% polyester, rather lightweight (324 grams per linear meter) in a width of 150 cm (Photo 5). The last novelty we mention from Ratti is a fabric with very vivacious colors and decorative motif that hews closer to the the company’s traditional products: a pure linen cloth weighing 340 grams per linear meter, sold in a width of 140 cm and characterized by a digital print (Photo 6).

Let return to the realm of jacquards to admire a fabric named Vintage presented by Clerici Tessuto & C. in its Luna Home collection: a full weaving width jacquard measuring 140 cm from selvage to selvage. The design is a contemporary CAD-interpretation of a 1970s-style decorative theme exhibiting a faded pattern that enhances the overall effect. A proposal for upholstery is the decoration in 81% cotton and 19% polyester, weighing 449 grams per linear meter (Photo 7).

We conclude this first taste of what’s in store for 2020 with a look at the creations of a grand European producer that has always worked with the most refined and sophisticated natural fiber: linen. We are talking about the Belgian Nelen & Delbeke, who are introducing two weaves having different weights but both heavy and meant for use as upholstery. They are both rather grossier flatweaves exalting the three-dimensionality of the linen fibers. For the coming year, the firm from Kruisem will present three searchable color proposals for their linen fabric: earth tones (from natural to rust and brown earths), deep, rich colors (green, dark blue, ochre, brick), and vibrant colors such as purple and turquoise. The two fabrics in Photo 8 are a “Dark Green” weighing 1,100 grams per linear meter (width 140 cm) and a “Faded Natural” weighing 940 grams per linear meter (width 133 cm).