Friday, January 31, 2014

Top 10 Trends observed at The Buyers Market of American Craft

Steven Cooper
1. Big bags rule, especially bags sized amply to fit tablets and laptops and bags with convertible, long cross-body straps. And often, there is a "mini-me" bag to go with it - so you can stash the big one and go with the coordinating mini when you need to. It's a world where bags have their own bags. 

2. Leather cuffs for men and women with cool hardware. Very sexy and youthful. One designer says she was pleasantly surprised that in addition to younger shoppers, many of her retail customers are women in their 50s! These are structured pieces, but still casual and hip -- not like the leather hippie bracelets of the past.
Mad Art Studios

3. In the animal kingdom, birds of many feathers flock to the forefront, but among 20-somethings the sleepy-eyed sloth is a new "it" creature - and a sly alternative to the wise owl. Among the water creatures, whales and crabs join the many varieties of tropical fish that are popular in design motifs. 

4. "Downton Abbey" has influenced fashion: for a couple years, the Princess's fascinators were hot, but here, we saw contemporary, decorated cloche and brimmed hats taking inspiration from ( and named after ) characters of the popular public television series. 

Mr Sogs Creatures
5. Victorian influences in jewelry, everywhere. We saw a lot of painted and/or enameled jewelry in vintage reproduction styles as well as contemporary styles. 

6. Colors that pop - from Pantone's orchids and to eye-popping shades of blue. Indigo Blue is emerging. Post-recession return to color accents. But also saw lovely products that fit the incoming trend of neutrals that move when you're ready to move. 

7. In artisan-made plush and even decorated pottery -- the monster toy has comfortably moved into the nursery, with huggable, baby versions of whimsical and edgy toys and décor objects. The under-35 crowd that has fanned the monster trend is now entering the realm of parenthood.

8. Big trend: Recycled/upcycled continues to embrace luxury. It's a nod to the realities of producing from sourced recycled goods, but also it's a signal of the continuing mastery of the materials and techniques by the artisan/designer who can achieve a level of sophistication and refinement of products for upscale homes. In many cases, you can no longer look at a product tagged "recycled" and discern the origin of the materials. In other words, it may look like ceramic tile, but it may be made of recycled fiber. It may look like a ribbon bag, but it may be made of seatbelts saved from car scrap yards. Saw this again and again.
G3 Studios

9. In glass, many artists and designers show bold color and design and statement pieces - very large. Some of this is display technique to catch the eye of passing buyers in the aisles, but some are the showpieces designed for a certain type of collector and the home/corporate/decorator marketplace, these pieces are coveted. The same companies often are offering a scaled down or miniature version of the design for more affordable home décor and accents.

10. Young children's products are re-emerging in the wholesale handmade market. Some of this springs from parents' demand for organic products and baby-safe manufacturing. Many makers got out of this business or amended their practices when a set of U.S. regulations related to lead/chemical content were first introduced earlier in this decade, increasing the makers' costs. The smallest makers (handcraft) were not using unsafe materials but felt they could not afford the fees of meeting the federal requirements. It took some time, but there are more signs now of rebound and new products.

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