Thursday, March 12, 2015

What Consumers Need to Know About What the Recovery Has Done for Oriental Rugs: Fashion or Economics? (PHOTOS)

The first two pictures below are of a rug we sold to a customer in 2006 (a couple of years before the "financial meltdown".) The rug shown is characteristic of the style and quality that was most popular at the time (and for most of the twenty-five years Brandon Oriental Rugs has been a company.) We're sure you can appreciate the intricate detail, and the large number of colors that make this rug truly beautiful.

The picture below is of the back of the rug above. The Quarter is a standard of measurement approximately equivalent to one square inch, and permits you to appreciate the almost incredible detail of the hand-knotting technique -- yes, each little dot is a knot individually tied by hand! This rug has over 400 hand-tied knots per square inch!

Since 2008, fashion marketers tell us, the trend has been toward simpler designs (and lesser grade construction techniques.)

The rug below is a reproduction Turkish Oushak made in India. Before 2008, there was little interest in rugs like this; and it was a tough sell. Post-2008, because it is among the least expensive truly handmade qualities available (NOT "tufted"; NOT "hand-loomed"), it has been relatively popular.

Notice that compared with the rug above, it has considerable fewer colors and much less detail. A look at the back of the rug (shown below) reveals that it is put together with barely forty hand-tied knots per square inch!

It is less costly than the first rug shown above (when compared on a price per square foot basis), but the savings are NOT proportional to the dramatic dropoff in work-manship and time invested to produce this rug versus the first. 
The second rug has barely one tenth the number of knots. (Consider that if the first rug took three hundred days to produce, this rug took thirty.) But this rug is sold at one third the price of the first, NOT one tenth. So you can appreciate that it is actually more costly for lesser quality. 

Rug buyers focused mainly on price (due to reduced buying power) are buying lower price rugs; but they are actually paying much more per knot than they were when Quality was the primary focus of their search for handmade rugs.

It's a kind of hidden inflation that should not be ignored by the savvy consumer. 

We invite all to consider if the dramatic change we have seen in the style and quality of rugs available was motivated by "fashion", or if it was due to economic pressures. 

Truth be told: as the "slow but steady recovery" progresses, demand for traditional, high quality rugs has returned. This is beginning to catch rug-producers who made low quality rugs during the downturn with a lot of inventory that smart consumers are never going to want. As we have demonstrated, those cheaply made rugs are NOT as inexpensive as they should be, and value shoppers are again looking at quality rather than "lowest price" as their definition of where value is found.

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