The French, once the world’s great makers of tableware and other decorative objects, have been in decline for decades.
Their tableware exports have dwindled over the past 20 years.
Many of the objects in their shops are made in China.
But some American brands still make quality French tablecloths in the United States, such as Porcelain, whose French table ware can sell for up to $150,000.
And as we head into the holiday season, American tableware manufacturers are making some pretty good progress in reining in their prices, says Daniel Stavrakis, executive director of the International Tableware Association.
The United States is still the biggest producer of tableclothes in the world, with almost a third of all global production.
That’s not to say that tableclothing prices in the country haven’t increased in recent years, but that’s mostly because more of the products that come in are manufactured overseas.
That means American makers of French tablewear, such of the French-American designer Diane von Furstenberg, can sell their goods for much more in the home country.
But in recent months, American manufacturers have started to take steps to address what they see as an imbalance between domestic demand and overseas production.
American companies are now buying French tablecloth in large quantities, and using imported materials, like wood and rubber, for many of the pieces.
American consumers are also looking to buy less-expensive, hand-crafted pieces from overseas.
For some American tablecloth manufacturers, the shift in foreign demand is a sign that the industry is on the cusp of a resurgence.
But others worry that the shift could hurt domestic industry, and cause a sharp drop in sales and profit.
In a recent report from the Institute for International Tabletop Manufactures, French tablecovers were the only items to make the list of the top 10 tableware products sold in the US.
That is despite the fact that French tablecover sales in the first half of this year dropped by 8.3 percent compared to the same period last year, the group said.
While the United Kingdom, which also has a strong French-Canadian and Italian-American heritage, is one of the most popular brands, Americans still outsell their French counterparts by a wide margin, according to IITM.
Americans also outsell other European countries, including France, Italy and Spain, the report said.
But in France, it’s the U, German, Dutch, Austrian, Danish and Swedish that have the most successful domestic brands.
American manufacturers are trying to compete with the growing popularity of foreign manufacturers, like the French and Italian, who make much more expensive, handcrafted pieces.
And with the rise of mass manufacturing, those companies may be forced to lower their prices even more to maintain a market share.
“We are very competitive with the foreign manufacturers and will always have to be,” said Jean-Michel Brosset, head of marketing for Porcelaine.
In some cases, American designers are finding ways to make money off the tablecloth that comes from abroad, such in the case of Von Furstenburg, the American designer who has had to make some adjustments to the design of some pieces.
“There is no such thing as a perfect product,” he said.
“We have to think about it as a brand and what we do.”