Industry Consolidation – Cotton+Steel and More

Cotton+Steel

Just in case you haven’t heard, the 5 original designers of Cotton+Steel have departed and are no longer working with RJR, who was their distributor.

Apparently, RJR owns the name of Cotton+Steel outright, so the designers are leaving that behind.

Craft Industry Alliance has a detailed article about the move, which the designers announced on Instagram several weeks ago. It sounds as though RJR was having difficulty with technology, and deliveries weren’t being made to quilt shops in a timely manner, record-keeping and accounting was faulty, with a lack of training and many other issues that make or break businesses.

It’s a shame, as Cotton+Steel was a very recognizable brand.  The quality of the fabric was definitely superior, and that was one of the main reasons the brand had such a following.  The last collection submitted by the original team was submitted at this spring’s quilt market, which means it will likely hit stores in the fall.  After that, RJR has in-house designers who will continue the brand. It’s hard to imagine, as anyone who has ever used Cotton+Steel fabric knows, the designs are unique.  Frankly, the designers are the brand.

We’ll keep an eye on what they are up to next.

Machine Quilting Unlimited and Modern Quilts Unlimited

If you are familiar with these two titles, you’ll be sorry to hear that they are both being discontinued.

Everyone knows that the magazine industry is truly suffering, as ad sales are plummeting and online content replaces a business model that has outlived its time.

Still, I am someone who prefers to read actual books as opposed to digital, and I like my magazines the same way.

I would rather turn pages while sipping a cup of hot chocolate than stare blankly at another screen.  Nevertheless, these are two more magazines that will no longer be available.

I will, however, recommend instead, the folks at Modern Quilt Studio.

They self-publish magazines called Modern Quilts Illustrated which are full of great ideas tips and tricks.  They adhere boldly to the modern aesthetic.  They have been around for decades and I imagine they will be around for decades more. Their magazines have no ads.  This husband and wife team are inspirational, skilled as artists, well-known and respected in the industry, and all-around nice people.

As the industry changes, it can only mean one thing…opportunity.  The gals from Cotton+Steel will find their way to new and exciting endeavors and the rest of us will have higher quality designs and talent to choose from…if less assortment for the moment.

 

Free Spirit Fabrics is Shutting Down

Free Spirit/Westminster Fabrics announced yesterday to their designers that they will no longer be distributing fabric.

This includes some big name designers:  Tula Pink, Kaffe Fassett, Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner and Denyse Schmidt.

What does this mean for us, as consumers?

Well if you are fans of these designers, their future products are currently up in the air. Free Spirit says they will take orders from quilt shops through May 31, so likely this is everything shown to shop owners at Quilt Market this past fall. This just goes to show how far in advance the pipeline is for fabrics. Products that stores are ordering right now are already in the works overseas…commitments have been made, which means $$$ have been exchanged, and at the end of the day, the products need to be sold to you…preferably at a profit.

Tula Pink is going live today at 2 pm Central time on Facebook and Instagram (Feb. 13) to talk about the future of her fabrics.  We’ll all learn a bit about it then.

Update on Tula Pink fabric:

Her solids are already in the stores. Whatever is there is what’s there. All Stars will ship to stores.  De La Luna may or may not ship, but may transfer to whoever she partners with next.  She is planning to continue designing fabric and is weighing options with new distributors. (She has a great attitude, if you have a chance to see her response, be sure to look it up.)

As for the other designers, I’m sure they will each make decisions based on their own opportunities and interests.

Stay tuned!

You can read about the details of the shutdown here.