The past few years we were all feeling somewhat subdued due to the economy, and the color palettes reflected that in many ways. We saw muted tones (and even actual gray), and dark colors for holidays that matched our moods. Apparently we are feeling more optimistic now as a whole, because sneak peeks for fall and winter (traditionally times of darker and more subdued colors if we are going to see them) are showing uncharacteristically bright and vibrant colors for those times of year. It’s almost as if we as a group just got so tired of the economic malaise and its accompanying color palette that we decided to turn seasonality on its head. Colors being shown for lines at CHA Summer 2010 – even for winter seasonal lines – are falling more generally along the lines of the bright palette usually associated with summer seasonal product lines. Cosmo Cricket’s “Mitten Weather”, which uses lavender in an unusual way, is an example of the brighter and untraditional color palettes we’re going to be seeing.
The first trend in themes is that themes, which had almost disappeared after being so dominant early on in the scrapbooking craze, are back. Themes are big! Karen Foster just announced 16 new themed lines for CHA Summer 2010.
But some themes are more back than others. Several themes (beyond the typical life milestones and seasonal ones) are particularly dominant right now. Photography is showing up everywhere, with vintage camera icons and filmstrips being popular.
Perhaps most obviously dominant, however, is the trend of the other “home arts” invading our craft of scrapbooking as a product theme. Cooking and vintage sewing, in particular, have become very popular themes for scrapbook supplies, even from companies who traditionally haven’t produced themed product. This trend is probably fueled by a rise in interest in these activities due to the economy, and a wave of nostalgia for “the good old days” it has brought with it as well.
Two product categories will dominate the trends on the show floor in Chicago, continuing their emergence from CHA Winter 2010 in Anaheim. Both of these categories are tools, reflecting consumers’ continued desire in the poor economy to spend their dollars on items that are reusable, instead of the expensive consumable metal embellishments of a couple years ago.
The first of these categories is die cutting equipment. This category is arguably the hardest fought segment of the scrapbook industry at the moment, with competition heavy in both the manual and electronic equipment markets. This will continue in Chicago. Craftwell will reportedly be finally debuting its eCraft machine for sale after previewing it at several shows. Sizzix is heavily promoting its eClips machine to compete with market leader Cricut, which is hinting at a new product introduction of its own again after making a huge splash at CHA Winter with the Cricut Cake machine.
The explosion of electronic die cutting equipment doesn’t mean that the manual market is dead. Sizzix has taken on a whole new life for many consumers with the introduction of their Tim Holtz licensed dies at CHA Winter 2010. Spellbinders and Quickutz are fighting in court over intellectual property that will affect the future of those two companies (and possibly the whole manual die cutting market). Also, several companies have entered the market selling “generic” dies for cutting with manual machines.
The second product category that is increasingly showing strength the past few shows is stamping. Stamps started their re-emergence as a powerhouse with clear stamps becoming a must-have for seemingly every major scrapbooking collection. Now, consumers are becoming more interested in reusable tools as the economy has driven them towards more cost-friendly scrapbooking. Many consumers seem to feel that the value they get from spending $10 on reusable stamps (especially unmounted ones) is a better investment than the return they get on spending that same amount on embellishments. The past several CHA shows have seen a growing trend of interest in stamping and related techniques, as consumers look for tool items they can use in a variety of ways to maximize their investment.
Those two categories’ dominance aren’t the only product category trends, however. Buttons are making a return, after virtually disappearing for several years. This could be partially influenced by the melding of the scrapbooking and stamping markets, since buttons never went out of style in the stamping market. It also fits nicely with the trendy sewing theme, and our desire for “homemade” in the current economy. Buttons are also relatively affordable embellishments, making them appealing to both scrapbookers and manufacturers on a budget.
Flowers are still big (both physically and figuratively), and we’re continuing to see more of them that are dimensional and especially ones made out of fabric. The fabric flowers, in particular, harken back to the first part of the 20th century and the vintage trend from that era. Some of the recent Prima offerings have a nostalgic touch that reminds me so much of fashions my grandmother wore when I was young, or that I’ve seen pictures of from her younger years.
Products related in any way to journaling are also continuing to be big, such as pens, stamps that make journaling areas, and pre-designed journaling tags.
What we won’t be seeing a lot of is rub-ons. These have been falling in popularity as stamps have been gaining market share. The price point compared to stamps is fairly close – only a few dollars less for a similar number of designs of rub-ons vs. a clear stamp set. But the stamp set is reusable and the scrapbooker has an infinite amount of color selection by switching out the inkpad they use, so they aren’t tied to the product designer’s color palette.
Vintage, which has been around for the past several shows, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon it appears. Lines like The new line from Girls Paperie, Toil & Trouble, set out to prove at CHA Summer 2010 that the style can even be applied to traditionally “cute” holidays like Halloween. Even in the face of a cute invasion lead by many of the stamping companies, vintage is still heavily dominating the look of many, many companies.
Faces started showing up in designs at CHA Winter 2010. Most notably there was a large showing of stamp designs that were cute cartoon drawings of children (think Precious Moments) such as the designs seen at CHA Winter by Stampavie. But that style, which has always existed in the stamping market but had disappeared in the scrapbook market for a few years, is now returning to products like scrapbook paper and stickers again at CHA Summer. And faces aren’t only on actual people – they’re showing up on animals and even inanimate objects too.
Wood (both printed grain and the real thing) is also becoming more popular, part of the twin vintage and domestic-themed trends. Birds have been trendy as part of both the vintage look and the emerging return of “cute” that has traditionally been associated with stamping. For CHA Summer, it looks like peacocks may be the bird of choice for many product designers (for an example see the Hollywood Vogue line by Webster’s Pages).
And for everyone that thinks attending CHA is just one big party…well, it’s at least going to look like a big party at CHA Summer as the trend from CHA Winter of banners (both in product design and booth samples) continues on. (Party on?)
Our last design trend also was in evidence at CHA Winter, and draws on nostalgia for 1950’s glamour. (Mad Men, anyone?) Even the most devoted Francophile may be sick of seeing the Eiffel Tower after CHA, because scrapbook companies seem to be growing up a whole forest of the legendary icon of glamour. This trend is evident even at companies not typically known for their heavily vintage look (such as in 3 Bugs In A Rug’s new A Trip To Paris line).
Hand in hand with a growth in interest in stamping, we are seeing a continued growth in interest in cardmaking. This interest is somewhat driven by the duel forces of the economy (handmade cards can be a way to save money) as well as the rising interest in handmade gifts.
That rising interest in handmade gifts is driving growth in the introduction of kits and products for creating projects like mini-albums that make excellent homemade gifts. Many of these albums are themed for the events that would inspire gift-giving: babies, weddings, holidays, etc. Recipe album kits, like the new Kitschy Kitchen collection from Melissa Frances, also continue to be popular as both gifts and family history projects.
ATC’s are another area of surprising growth. 7 Gypsies was onto this trend early in the scrapbook market with their display spinner. Now scrapbookers are becoming more aware of ATC’s as an artistic outlet and fun activity to share with friends as companies like Ranger and Stamper’s Anonymous, both promoted by the stellar Tim Holtz, are producing stamps and supplies for creating ATC’s.
As we started seeing at the past several shows, embellishments are still based largely on paper (stickers, tags, and chipboard), a more affordable option for both vendor and consumer than previous lines that were heavy on metals and other more costly items.
Lines are still largely smaller (pun intended) with a few exceptions. Double-sided papers are taking the place of lines with a dozen or more papers previously. It’s now not uncommon for boutique lines to have only 4 double-sided papers (or even only single-sided ones). And that small size extends to embellishments as well. Fewer are being offered as vendors are slimming back their development and carrying costs. And packages are on a diet, being offered in smaller sizes to keep purchase prices down for both wholesale and consumer buyers.
Celebrity names being used increasingly to market product lines. Five years ago only a few product lines were marketed under so-called “signature” names. Now, the practice is growing by leaps and bounds in the scrapbook industry. Recent examples include the signing of Jenni Bowlin to create signature colors for Ranger, and Teresa Collins signing with Photocentric to put her name on their Stampmaker machine.