Plastic will become less accepted

Kim Kiner, director of marketing and product development of Acme Frame Products relates the popularity of gold frames to a design trend (“romantic, ornate, rich-looking”) evident throughout home decor. This trend has inspired Acme’s new Profile Gallery Collection of frames, which features wide gold moldings, gold accents, and velour door backs. The collection also includes some foil-wrapped floral designs.

In addition, the museum or gallery look and miniature frames continue to be strong, mass market vendors report. Ceramic frames, on the other hand, have grown very weak.

Some vendors feel that, even among mass market customers, plastic will become less accepted as a substitute for wood. “I think plastic frames will become more promotional. Customers are asking for something real,” comments Steven Scheyer, executive vice president of Decorel. “It’s part of the same trend that is also evident in the return to steak.

“People never really left wood,” Scheyer adds. “It’s just that plastic became a new vehicle for a time. Wood will become more important because of its high perceived value.”

“Real wood frames are making a comeback, and we’re gearing toward that,” advises Jamie Hirsch, vice president of Structural Industries. People can only be fooled by plastic for so long. They will be willing to pay a little more for wood.”

Structural is introducing a wood frame for displaying collectibles such as dried flowers, shells and coins. The 1.5 inch-deep frame gives a shadowbox effect, Hirsch notes. it can also be used for photos.

Michael Block president of Loui Michel Cie says he sees “some resistance to plastic now” as a substitute for wood. “Where possible, the customer prefers real wood.”

Another vendor, however, denies there is any consumer resistance to plastic instead of wood, saying this is just an idea some fellow vendors are trying to sell to buyers. “The trend is not that way at all. Unless the plastic frame is overpriced, what matters to consumers is what it looks like, not what it’s made of.”

Norm Grafstein, vice president of North American Enclosures says upscale plastic frames still enjoy high perceived value, but adds that consumers may believe them to be wood. The influx of these frames is forcing wood resources to become more technologically efficient, according to Grafstein.

Magee Co., which is primarily a resource for wood frames, especially solid oak ones, is experimenting with plastics, Frank Bigger, president, reveals. “Lumber prices have done nothing but go up. You can do things with plastic that you can’t do with wood-and vice-versa.”

According to Scheyer of Decorel, a growing consumer preference for real wood also translates into a preference for natural wood finishes over colors. “Customers want longevity,” as represented by oak, light ash and whitewash finishes. Decorel, for its part, is being more cautious about introducing color assortments, he reports.

However, Slater of Intercraft says that”colors, especially greens and blues, are good on wood or any kind of fashion material.”

In the upscale market, where many of the same design trends prevail as at mass, a shift may be occurring from wood toward metal and mixed-media frames. At Kohl’s, metal frames have become as dominant as wood frames were just a year ago, according to Gary Lewandowski. “The business changes so quickly that you’ve got to keep your eye on it. Last year, brass was downtrending, and wood was hot.”

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