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October 13, 2011 • Sarah Schwartz
The Four B’s

“Another bride, another June, another sunny honeymoon …” goes the standard that always remains true. In addition to the brides each season offers, there are babies born, birthdays celebrated and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs commemorated. While the numbers hopefully grow in tandem with our population, what changes are the trends related to these four B’s. Stationery Trends queried several industry insiders on the most recent looks in each market.

Jilly Jack Designs

Jilly Jack Designs

B#1: Brides
Fancy Finishes: Brides still swoon over letterpress, but marry it to elements like “blind hits or printing with varnish, poster style typography, die-cuts, extra thick cards and foil and edge painting,” noted Kendra Bellah, Dauphine Press’ sales and marketing director. “Any of these elements can be added to a suite to make them look current, or a few can be paired together in the same suite.”

Marvelous Muses: Bellah cites vintage china as an inspiration, as well as several home interior trends, like all-over floral patterns, mirror frames and mid-20th century design aesthetics. Metallics are big in both home décor and fashion, she continued: “They work especially well in wedding stationery because they add shine that coordinates with any palette. Metallics can be neutral, bold, sophisticated, festive, futuristic and vintage. There’s a reason a gold ring is ‘timeless.'”

Cool Coordinates: Joie Studio realizes that tying the invitation to the favor is quite timely, so introduced Toast to Joie, a invitation collection that coordinates with collaborator Shop Toast’s custom favor collections.

Babes in the Woods: Joie Studio also offers its invitations in five sustainably harvested wood veneers – birch, Aspen, maple, birdseye maple and red cedar. “Perhaps a Colorado wedding might choose the silvery splendor of Aspen wood and a Vermont wedding might want to use maple,” described Tina Pham, owner and creative director.

Dressing Down: Many couples are also opting for simpler, more intimate and personal weddings, reported Rhonda Adams, co-owner and designer, Marry Me Stationery, and more “greeting card style” invitations reflect it. “Our line is simple, sweet and playful, and available at a good price.”

Type & Stripe: Fig. 2 Design Studio underlined the popularity of designs based completely on type, without any other motif, as well as nearly anything with stripes, from pinstripes to chevron.

What’s My Liner: Also making headlines across categories are liners – Fig. 2 offers them in 45 colors as well as stripes and polka dots. “I’ve seen lots of pattern mixing, and the majority of liners can work with a number of designs,” said Claudia Smith, designer and proprietress. “Even a design with a floral pattern can be paired with a bold chevron by making sure (they) relate to each other in size.”

Mango Ink

Mango Ink

B#2: Bar/Bat Mitzvah
Who I Am: The child’s name is often the focal element, emphasized Kerry Amidon, product manager, Checkerboard. “Our new designs feature new ways to graphically highlight names using strong typestyles. It’s important to allow young adults to express their identities.”

Mix & Match: Much like teen bedding, many albums are designed so celebrants can pick and choose for a completely unique design. “The ‘individuality’ angle for teens is key,” Amidon added. “They want something that reflects them. It’s no longer Mom picking out your sheets, your clothes – or your invitation.”

Personal Branding: Bar/Bat Mitzvahs are all about “branding” the event in the child’s style, underlined Natural Impression Design’s Owner/Designer Eddy Martinez. “Our new Epic Bar/Bat Mitzvah Collection combines custom laser cuts, and elements like real laces on a football-themed invitation.”

Project Runway: Just like the wedding market, trends in décor, fashion and pop culture heavily impact this market. “When day-glo colors and animal prints hit New York runways,” Martinez explained, “customers want it on their invitations.”

A New Casual: Also echoing the bridal market, some standards have relaxed, stated Ryan Miller, owner and designer, Mango Ink. “Some clients have realized that the days of invites looking formal (and) traditional self are leaving. It’s time to start having fun with designs that represent who you are and what you like.”

Bnute Productions

Bnute Productions

B#3: Birthday
Invite as Activity: With kid’s parties, any invitation interactivity is going to generate excitement. That was the thinking behind Lemon Tree Paper’s release of secret decoder invitations – to be read with included glasses – as well as scratch-off varieties. Owner/designer Lindsey Cross said the latter can work for any kind of party, while the former were inspired by 3-D movies. “(These have) become such the rage.”

Party Coordinates: Most moms approach birthdays in terms of the big picture, so are thinking beyond the invitation. Lemon Tree is one of many companies offering a cohesive offerings to tie everything together, with elements like banners, personalize-ready party hats, cupcake wrappers and picks and even coordinated sketchbook favors.

Paper Coordinates: Don’t forget the paper extras either, cautioned Julie Schaffroth, Vanilla Print’s creative director. The company’s new boutique line, featuring both photo and non-photo designs, includes matching thank-yous, wrap-around address labels, gift stickers and favor-ready notepads.

Multicultural & Male-Friendly: Alongside the surge in invitations featuring digital photography are those with imagery mirroring the celebrant’s ethnicity. “Our multi-cultural kids line features themes with at least three characters from different ethnic backgrounds,” remarked Yolanda Ingram Jones, owner of The Paper Berry. “We’ve received a lot of positive feedback, especially from parents with bi-racial children and blended families. We (also) received requests for party invitations featuring African-American men. With the majority of stationery being targeted to females, (this is) a perfect addition to our line-up.”

Weswen Design

Weswen Design

B#4: Baby
Gone Digital: While not all birth announcements feature a photo, many new parents want just that, in an earth-friendly format, no less. Wiley Valentine Co-founder Rachelle Schwartz explained the her digital baby announcement line, printed on recycled paper with cotton envelopes, was “launched to fill a price point we were missing.”

Something for Everyone: That doesn’t mean everyone’s on a budget, Schwartz continued. “The option of having an affordable product as well as over the top (offerings) is key. There are definitely clients with both budgets, and it’s great to be able to meet those needs with one designer’s products.”

Sense of Season: As the cooler months take hold, Bella Ink President and Designer Melissa Danaher has introduced several shower invitations incorporating fall colors and jewel tones, as well as coordinating response and table cards. “We saw a need in the market for (these).”

Easy Add-ons: Wall art incorporating the newborn’s name and birth details is a no-brainer for new parents, emphasized Abbey Malcolm, owner/creative director, Abbey Malcolm Letterpress + Design. But don’t stop there, she noted, citing profit builders like insert cards, liners, silverware wraps, cupcake accessories, favors, signage and diaper cakes. “Baby events are becoming more like weddings every day!”

Celebrity Inspirations: These grand visions are no doubt inspired by our culture’s obsession with the rich and famous, finished Malcolm. “With TV/print coverage, blogs galore and reality TV madness, the general public has a front row seat to the most amazing showers and nurseries money can buy. It’s only natural that we are inspired by this and want our own version of something that fabulous!”




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