Especially in an increasingly digitized world, paper has the power to endure. Even as the perennial giants in this category—greeting cards, journals, notepads and more—continue to reinvent themselves, they do so keeping an eye on trends sweeping all categories of the gift industry. Here’s a quick rundown of ten such trends worth keeping an eye on.
“Deep, dark purple will be big this year,” says Brenda Boyer, marketing department spokesperson for Carlson Craft. Besides eggplant and aubergine, look at Pantone’s top pick Bellflower, a more pastel shade.
Brights and fluorescents “toss back to the 60’s and 80’s, with hot pinks, lime greens, oranges, blues and yellows in demand in stationery,” says Mary Phillips, CEO of Mary Phillips Design. Look for these same colors in fashion this year.
The ancient tie-dye technique of ikat (pronounced eee-KAHT), with origins in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, is enjoying a vibrant comeback in a variety of textile and giftware choices. Look for this colorful block pattern to show up in an array of stationery products as well.
A parade of animals including giraffes, whales, and birds are walking all over stationery products with their whimsical appeal. Other popular motifs to look for include bicycles and mustaches.
Passage to India
“We’re getting more requests for culture-specific designs, such as the vivid colors of Indian weddings,” says Heather van Breda, owner of Real Card Studio. Her company is putting out a new Indian collection called the ‘Cardamom package’ in their higher-end lines. An example is the henna-designed program designed to pair with the invitation.
Think big, bold Gerber daisies, cherry blossoms, soft tufts of hydrangea, summery daisies, birds of paradise, and orchids, in either large single motifs or as sweet little clusters placed on several points on a card. Lilacs, lavender and other florals fitting the ‘purple is in’ trend are also in demand. Unusual flowers such as African lilies, black-eyed Susans, cosmos, orange and red poppies, tonal green zinnias and vibrant coneflowers and cosmos are in bloom at Smudge Ink.
Chinoiserie is a form of European art that incorporates idealized Chinese elements. The fanciful imagery and colors continue to exert a strong influence on stationery.
Knock your Souks Off
The magic of Morocco. The country’s exotic trellis patterns, bold flowers and spice markets have taken over giftware products for a while now. Look for their continued presence in stationery for a while longer.
In addition to greeting cards, stock a wide variety of additional stationery items to stimulate interest in gift groupings as well as single buys. The current crop of hot products includes journals in brightly colored designs, patterned notecards and note sets, notepads, personalized coasters, and personalized wine bottle labels.
Also hot are Enclosure cards to tuck into a lunch box or present, such as Haute Papier’s tiny 2 ¾”x3 ½” enclosure notes, winner of best new product at the National Stationery Show last year. Gift wrap papers and gift embellishments are always strong sellers, and organizing products such as bright, patterned agendas, file folders and calendars join notepads as top personal buys and gift items.
“Personalizing will continue to be huge,” says Mary Phillips, CEO of Mary Phillips Designs. “Customers buy for themselves but also give personalized products as gifts.” Hot sellers include note cards, gift enclosures, children’s calling cards, and imprintable invitations and thank you cards, with oversized fonts placed non-traditionally such as along the bottom on the card, and monograms and logos in edgier custom designs and colored or metallic imprinting.
“We’re getting more requests for custom illustrations, such as simple drawings of the actual bridal party members,” says Heather van Breda, owner of Real Card Studio. van Breda says that customers are also requesting illustrations of the bride’s actual dress or bridal bouquet.
Just the Type
“Cool fonts are in,” says Brenda Boyer, marketing department spokesperson for Carlson Craft. “No one wants a basic ‘Times’ type anymore,” so the trend is decorative fonts such as rustic block print or royal wedding-inspired italics, Marie Antoinette ornates, or child-friendly rounded letters. Mixed fonts will be the top choice. “95% of our orders have at least two mixed fonts in the designs,” says Sarah Meyer Walsh, founder and owner of Haute Papier Collections.
North America’s most comprehensive showcase of all things paper—from greeting cards, custom invitations, gift wrap and partyware, to journals, frames, writing instruments, decorative desktop and complementary lifestyle gifts—will return with the latest trend-setting products from nearly 800 exhibiting companies, May 20-23, at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Some 11,000 buyers from around the world are expected to attend.
Hundreds of new talents including Applesauce Greetings, Flour Pot Cookies, Kookaburra, Plum Paper and Stationery HQ will present alongside the industry’s most revered brands, including Anna Griffin, Avanti Press, Caspari, Crane & Co., Envelopments, Papyrus/Recycled Paper Products, and William Arthur.
Off the show floor, the show presents opportunities for business education and professional development. The third annual Future Conference—a two-hour, pre-Show program in a “Ted Talks” format—kicks off the educational component, followed by a seminar series addressing multicultural marketing, color and retailing trends, bridal market insights and more, Sunday through Tuesday.