Immune to Covid-19 and experiencing steady growth over the past three years, the global home textile market is expected to grow at an even faster pace to reach USD 133 billion by 2025.
While home textiles have represented a good 5% of the overall textile market, the product category was dormant in its small role before the Covid-19 pandemic. But that began to change with people spending more and more time at their home (office).
The growing real estate market, lockdowns, and improving standards of living have resulted in a remarkable increase of people spending time and money to refurnish their living space.
The market is traditionally dominated by multibrand retailers, however brands are increasingly populating the home textile market too. The online channel is growing rapidly and holds a share of over 30%, and marketplaces such as Wayfair are dominating the online business.
Covid Era Nesting Makes Home the New Hot Category
This is not yet another article about Covid-related challenges, but about new opportunities. We can simply say it’s a category full of sheets, and towels. More than 50% of the home textile market are formed by bed linen and bed covers, followed by accessories and cushions, with a smaller share going to bathroom textiles.
I have to admit, I had early experiences at Carrefour as a buyer for the Tex Home department. But back then, I was more interested in the fast fashion garment industry and getting to work at Inditex/Zara eventually. Buying towels and bed linen just couldn’t excite me much.
Today, I am rebuilding my professional career and find myself back in home textiles with newfound enthusiasm. My interest has grown as the market has changed: technical innovation, sustainability and high-speed sourcing have reached the home textile market arrived and became the DNA for many new styles.
Global Home Textile Supply Chain
If we look at the global trade, we have the United States and Europe as the biggest consumers, constituting 60% of home textile imports. India, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh, on the other hand, are the key supplier countries. But this status quo is being challenged. With higher logistics costs and the goal to reduce the CO2 footprint, regional supply chains and smaller local production hubs may benefit.
Compared to the garment industry, the home textile industry is primarily composed of small and medium-sized companies. Over recent decades, we have seen a transformation from low-cost and high-volume basic productions to high quality designs. Add to this the tech revolution with digital showrooms and designers working with 3D software, and you find a modern industry. It therefore comes as no surprise that more and more mainstream brands license home textiles or even develop their own home collection.
How to Build Your Own Home Collection
At first, we may worry about the wide and complex diversification in terms of fabrics and yarns. But building a home textile collection is actually much simpler than building a garment collection. It requires only an annual change of collections, with fewer patterns, fitting sessions, embellishments and trims. And the ground fabrics are basic woven fabrics in satin and poplin.
While some years ago there were not many options in fabric weight and printing techniques, today we have a wide new scope of alternatives to choose from. New advanced cotton yarn spinning methods are used to bring a softer hand feel, and manufacturers around the globe are continuously coming up with more natural eco-friendly fabrics to choose from: yarns with more moisture absorption, breathable and temperature compensating properties, antibacterial finishing, odourless fabrics, quick drying or even textured materials for those who like a gentle exfoliation.
Moving towards sustainability, we can close the loop using recycled cotton or eco-made synthetic fibres from recycled plastic bottles. Or we can move to more eco-friendly solutions using natural fibres like bamboo for towels, or Lyocell with Refibra and Eco Color technology to save water and energy in the dying process. Leading companies in sustainability like Lenzing continue to invest in research and development to offer new fibres to meet the expectations of the consumers looking for health and comfort in their home textiles.
From my perspective, designers today have more options in building up collections and enjoy contributing to more sustainability and innovation.
Time for You to Consider Home Textiles
With all that development it’s no surprise that over the past 18 months more brands have launched their first home collections. Mango introduced their first lifestyle collection in Europe in April 2021, Gap partnered with Walmart to launch Gap Home in June 2021, and iconic Levi’s recently developed a home denim collection.
Early adopters like H&M or Zara Home are cherishing the positive growth and opening additional flagship stores. A good example is the recent opening of a 1.000 sqm Zara Home store, in A Coruña, Spain.
How about you? It’s the perfect time to introduce a new category in a smart and scalable way to double-digit growth. Home textiles have gained a high acceptance among young, fashionable and on-trend customers looking to express themselves with a fashion-forward home. Influencers show us their stylish home spaces with new experiences and authenticity. In sum, it’s the perfect time to look into broadening your brand distribution. I promise, it will be a far more exciting journey than I experienced in my early days!
About the Author:
Agustin Caprile is an expert in buying and sourcing who has worked for top European fashion retail brands for 15+ years and has extensive global experience in the textile production industry. He is passionate about elevating the apparel business to higher levels of quality and consumer respect. Read more of his work here or connect with him on LinkedIn.