May 13/20, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 25
By Ken Ryan
The growth of hard surfaces is viewed in some circles as an impediment to the health of the broadloom industry. And yet, mill executives say it is hard surfaces that are influencing some of today’s positive trends in soft surface fiber.
Indeed, there are many fiber technologies in play today that enable multi-color dyes and tonal carpets to complement hard surfaces to create a fashionable home. Several mills are looking to take advantage of this opportunity. “The growing trend of hard surface throughout more of the consumer’s home is creating an inert need for the softness and comfort of carpet,” said Jason Surratt, senior vice president of product and design, Phenix. “We’re seeing a trend for more tactility with varying textures and blends of fiber twist levels within standard cut piles. Coloring and pattern design are also trending toward bolder selections. This is also attributed to hard surface breaking up living spaces and providing a more neutral tone throughout the consumer’s home.”
The encroachment of hard surfaces throughout the home means fewer rooms—or even spaces within a room—are designated for carpet. But wherever soft surface does reside—whether a carpet or a rug—it tends to incorporate more richness in style, patterns and vibrant colors. Jamie Welborn, vice president of residential carpet product development, Mohawk, cited data showing that solid carpet represents less than 40% of Mohawk’s sales in carpet compared with 60% for a non-solid coloration. “When I got into product development eight years ago it was a solid world and beige and brown was 90% of our sales,” he recalled.
Many consumers are looking for tried-and-true colors and visuals from their carpet, according to mill executives, and will often gravitate toward a smaller scale pattern. “Convergently, consumers selecting soft surface for a smaller room are getting bolder in their style choices,” said Theresa Tran, director of soft surface portfolio management, residential, Shaw Industries.
Pushing the envelope
As consumer demands drive product development, mills are relentlessly seeking to push fiber and product innovation forward to see how it can best meet consumers’ high expectations. These innovations include product and merchandising efforts.
One of Shaw Floors’ 2019 marketed programs—Color That Speaks to You—is a refresh of its Anso Colorwall, a successful merchandising and selling tool for more than two decades that now provides RSAs an easy-to-explain narrative about style and performance. Tran said this display gives consumers soft surface options and a pathway to selecting the carpet that fits their style preference and performance needs. Simply the Best, another marketing program, offers 13 styles and a palette curated with a variety of greige hues to be more on-trend with what consumers currently demand.
Mohawk’s ColorMax has resonated with the retail market and consumers due to its color clarity, depth and balance. To that end, Mohawk will expand its ColorMax offerings in the coming months. “ColorMax is one of those things where, until you see it up against a traditional carpet, you don’t realize the magnitude of it,” Welborn said. “I think we hit a home run.”
For Engineered Floors/ Dream Weaver the emphasis remains on balance, be it a soft subtle tonal or a vibrant blend of bold color combinations. As Mike Sanderson, vice president of sales and marketing, explained, “It’s the balance and consistency throughout the entire product that we strive for and that we notice continues to attract the consumer.” PureBac, the company’s most innovative backing system, continues to gain momentum with both the RSA and installers, Sanderson said. “Using our Colorburst technology, we continue to create and develop styling and innovation that remain on the cutting edge of styling.”
Foss Floors, which is exclusively a PET provider, has taken what worked in specified commercial—bolder, accent colors—to the Main Street and residential markets. New introductions such as Couture and Cutting Edge feature 9 x 36 planks with nine colors in two different styles. Foss also introduced a 24 x 24 carpet tile, again using bold colors to accent the line, to much fanfare in Main Street and residential applications.
Anderson Tuftex’s Unleashed collection, shown at Surfaces, has taken off in a big way, according to Pam Rainey, vice president of product design. “All of the carpets in the collection are made with Stainmaster PetProtect, so they’re stain and pet hair resistant along with having high-performance durability and comfort,” she explained.
Invista continues to expand its color and style portfolio of solution-dyed fiber to both stay on trend and increase the options its Stainmaster customers have to utilize. “Stainmaster PetProtect carpet already has a strong foundation, but the more we tell the story with retailers and consumers, the more we see excitement grow around it,” said
Jeff Dill, director of mill sales and specialty retail. “From social media and beyond, the response is exciting. Because of this enthusiastic response, we’ll continue to build our SDN [solution-dyed nylon] fiber portfolio to increase the options of looks and color palettes available to the market.”
The Dixie Group relies on its differentiation to stand out, and to that end has created some unique designs and patterns for its Masland and Fabrica brands. “Also, we are continuing to focus on our new EnVision66 nylon program as a point of differentiation,” said T.M. Nuckols, president, the residential division, The Dixie Group. “We are seeing good results and strong growth with this program, and this part of our business will continue to grow.”
Phenix unveiled new fiber and yarn initiatives at Surfaces that created buzz. This included a high lustered metallic yarn in a Stainmaster PetProtect line that refracts light differently, giving a luxurious pop within a traditional cut pile texture. In Modern Contours, a new polyester line, Phenix offers dealers a new, subdued tonal yarn system.
Stanton Carpet is marketing super-soft, plush nylon fibers that are soft to the touch and offer an opulent luster that is aesthetically pleasing and performs well. Examples include Jazzy, Swing, Muse and Mambo. With these new developments in soft nylon, the yarns have evolved to an almost silk-like touch. In addition, Stanton has unveiled a broad assortment of delustered super-soft nylons such as Starry Night, a soft cut-pile nylon with metallic yarn sprinkled throughout. Oxford Street, Regent St., and Marble Arch are innovative designs atop a plush nylon base offering what the company believes is the right balance of pattern, soft touch and performance.
Soft fiber continues to be the headline at Southwind Carpets as illustrated in its So Soft PET carpet line known for its exceptional softness and comfort. The solution-dyed feature of the yarn is also a prime factor for the security of fade resistance, color-fastness and inherent stain resistance.
Southwind’s solution-dyed offerings come in blue, blue-green and green, with multiple textural effects and lusters. Its Classic Traditions collection of LCLs and Color Points is an example of soft, solution-dyed fiber in layered, textural, lustrous carpets.