Outdoor industry looks toward future at Casual Market

While this year’s Casual Market had lighter attendance than usual, manufacturers were glad to be able to spend quality time with retailers who did come, and share some of their new 2021 and 2022 product lines.

Fabric shortages, long lead times, and clogged-up ports were on everyone’s minds, and except for a few companies—like Polywood and Lane Venture, who are in a unique position to be able to ship in seven to nine weeks and nine to 12 weeks, respectively—most exhibitors had lead times ranging from 20 weeks to a year or even longer.

Wes Stewart, CEO of Sunset West, pointed out that this is an industry-wide, global challenge that everyone is in together. “Today we are all faced with extended lead times wherever we look, whether it be in the automotive sector, appliance industry or the furniture industry, we call on the patience within us to get through,” he says. “I look forward to the day when all supply chains are running properly again.”

Market attendees understood that and focused on the positives while looking toward the future.

“We talked to half a dozen new accounts this market,” said William Kruzel, business development partner at Mamagreen. “It’s been a slower market than most, but it’s been nice to spend time with customers in a more relaxed environment. We’re doing all we can to be prepared and organize product in light of all the challenges our industry is facing.”

OW Lee’s Cibolo collection with new fabric from Pendleton and Sunbrella.

Other manufacturers were also preparing for the future by showing new products that retailers can start buying to help ensure they have inventory when they need it in Q3 and Q4 of 2022.

OW Lee released the traditional-style Kensington seating collection, which comes with a coffee table and matching console table available in 18 porcelain tile options—including the new black marble style.

The company also introduced new South West-inspired fabric patterns in its partnership with Sunbrella and Pendleton, and they displayed it on the new Cibolo collection. 

Speaking of fabric, Outdura held no stops with its Ovation 4 collection. The nature-inspired line is driven by color stories like Starry Night and Warm Winter which range from cool blues to classic neutrals and bold corals. 

Ovation 4 designer Mariia Elizarova said the main goal of the collection was “to have colors that are relaxing, easy on the eyes, and that remind people of nature, connecting them with the environment they’re in when they’re outdoors.”

The full collection builds includes seven new patterns blended with eleven existing patterns for a total of 103 fabrics and six color stories Outdura also added Ovation 4 to its cut-yardage program to accommodate smaller custom orders.

Sunbrella also unveiled a new collection—Emerge—which puts a modern spin on traditional patterns. The collection highlights several new yarns, from calming blues to baked clays, all designed to be paired with modern neutrals. 

Telescope, which brought around 20 new introductions compared to its usual 60, had a few unique new products, including a fire feature that can be stuck in the umbrella hole of a dining table and stored underneath the table. The weighted bottom mechanism can hold a 20-pound propane tank.

Telescope also displayed its Origins poured acrylic tabletop material, which is heat pressed and available on all of the company’s fire tables. Kait Warren, Telescope’s marketing manager, said the material was “introduced to be matched with other Telescope pieces” and that it was well-received at market.

Jensen made a big splash this market by introducing teak to its line. The company is known for its ipe wood, which Vice President Eric Parsons said gives the furniture a cottage-style feel. Teak was introduced for the next generation of buyers. 

Jensen Outdoors’ Mix collection

In addition, Jensen’s modular Mix and Sorrento collections—available in teak or ipe—are knockdown collections, meaning more can fit on a container. Retailers can easily put sets together in their stores with new black hardware that sits flush with the wood.

Lloyd Flanders featured four new-for-2021 collections, two new-for-2022 collections, and three new finishes—Peacock, French Beige and Stillwater—this market. 

The Visions collection, new for 2021, has a coil system in the seat cushions that keeps them firm and fresh. The line’s narrow arms give it a contemporary look, and it’s 100% made in the U.S.

Southport, one of the two new-for-2022 collections, has an aluminum frame with window pane-type openings to show the weave, shown here in a new Peacock finish. The cushions feature coil systems, and the sofas are connected by a durable and simple tooth lock mechanism. 

A chair from Lloyd Flanders’ Solstice collection

Solstice, the other 2022 line, is an oversized fully upholstered set that Bryan Echols, vice president of sales, says had a great response at market.

Frank Verna, senior vice president of sales for Tropitone, said the company put more of a focus on product development last year and this year’s show “was like two years in one.”

The company highlighted its new Miralands and Andover collections, as well as a trellis rope collection that’s handwoven in the U.S. and available in deep seating and dining options.

At Mamagreen, the company showed its Maxximus extension table, which won the Lillian B. Winchester Best of Show Award this year at the ICFA gala. Kruzel said the table will soon be available in teak as well as a scratched gray color option. 

The company also recently expanded its quick-ship program, tripling the number of available SKUs. This will be made possible by a new Richmond, Virginia, warehouse opening on Oct. 1, which offers twice as much space. 

“We want the flexibility to offer our customers what they need,” Kruzel said.

That seemed to be every exhibitor’s motto this market, and though some are able to make it happen easier than others, many share similar challenges.

Some expect demand to continue through Q3 of next year, but many agreed that port issues, fabric and worker shortages, and long lead times will continue to present obstacles for the casual industry throughout the next year. 

Alex Milstein

Alex Milstein is a contributor and social media coordinator for Home News Now and editor in chief of Casual News Now. He previously served as senior editor of both Casual Living and Designers Today. Prior to that, Alex covered technology for Furniture Today, with a focus on augmented reality, e-commerce, and 3D visualization.

View all posts by Alex Milstein →

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