Homestead steps into the limelight
March 8, 2004,
As a supplier of private label retail brands, Homestead has stayed behind the scenes — even when it was making news, such as the acquisition of Guildford Industries' home fashions in 2002 or the thwarted effort of its parent company to acquire the Pillowtex brand portfolio last year.
Homestead the private label business later this month will launch Homestead the consumer brand under a series of licensing agreements with high-end home fashions designers.
Signed on for the inaugural project are Italian home design label Signoria di Firenze; New York fine linens designer Nancy Koltes; Belgium painter and designer Isabelle de Borchgrave; British home furnishings designer Linda Bruce; New York evening wear and home fashions designer Mark Snider; Showoffs design team Robbie Sumberg and Joan Lieberman; and twenty2, the year-old wallpaper and textiles brand by Kyra and Robertson Hartnett.
"Even though we have a strong base in private label business, there's more of an annuity in branding," said David Greenstein, president. "We're coming out different, and we're coming out strong."
On packaging, the collection designer's name will appear alongside the company's brand, e.g. Isabelle de Borchgrave for Homestead. The idea is to bring ultra-luxury designers into more mainstream retail channels, specifically big boxes, national chains and specialty retailers. The designers' boutique and interior design customers are considered to be far enough removed from other retail channels not to feel threatened by more broadly distributed lines, Greenstein said.
"Major designers lend the Homestead brand credence and scope," he added. "There's no confusion between what they do in luxury and what they will do in the broader channels."
Designer Koltes noted that mainstream retail today is already presenting consumers with more highly developed designs and better quality goods than they had in the past.
"There really is an avenue now with mid-level players who present good products that have high style," she added. "And the speed with which a larger volume product can be produced outside the European market is astounding to me. In my world, it takes about a year to bring something to the market. This is being done in about two months."
Homestead will take a novel approach to selling the new brand. Each designer has created a series of motifs for the Homestead brand as opposed to full product lines. At the upcoming New York Home Textiles Market, Homestead's entire showroom at 230 Fifth Ave. will be transformed into an ersatz museum, with the work from each designer displayed in its own environment. Although there will be some product on hand for each collection, the aim will be to evoke the essence of the design vision rather than pushing bed sets.
"Our focus is not product-centric; it's style-centric," Greenstein said. "The idea of the showroom is to get a varied and eclectic range of ideas. If we find partners, we will then take themes and turn those into lines."
Because so many retailers today demand exclusivity, the "designers-by-Homestead" brand will look to house each designer within a specific retail chain. Depending upon each retailer's preference, the lines will include bedding and accessories, soft window, bath and kitchen linens. Greenstein expects the process to culminate in deliveries for spring 2005.
"It's the essence of what we already do in private label, bringing together the triangulation between designer, retailer and manufacturer. The difference is that instead of waiting for the retailers to come to us with a captive brand, we're being more proactive," he said.
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