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Lauren carves a bigger piece of home

Lauren Ralph Lauren is on target to become a complete home furnishings brand with the expansion of specific categories, the launch of lamps, tabletop and gifts and a broader palette in solid colors.

In addition, said Ken Rood, president Ralph Lauren Home, "we will be shipping the new furniture program at Henredon in late fourth quarter, early '04, and we picked up significant new doors especially at Federated and Marshall Field's."

Tabletop and gift lines will be launched at Mikasa next month for department stores and fine specialty stores, Rood added. "We're also hoping to launch lamps in October, sourcing them as we do for Ralph Lauren Home."

The expansion of bath accessories in Lauren Ralph Lauren is viewed as a complement to the towel collections, he said. The company sees this, along with throws and decorative pillows, as expansion opportunities — "categories that will build incremental growth. And with that our ability to accessorize and build incremental growth boosts our productivity."

In sheets, the brand is expanding colors in the 250-count Supima cotton line as well as a paisley tone-on-tone that builds off a luxury 450-count cotton.

"We see the Lauren Ralph Lauren line for department stores and specialty stores, but not including the 'boxes'. And we're especially excited about the potential of furniture and tabletop in department stores," Rood said.

Ralph Lauren Home "has transitioned and become the brand for our retail stores," he said. "It has moved from a brand in department stores and our stores to our brand."

But, he noted, during this transition "there are still some patterns in Ralph Lauren Home that are still strong in department stores, and we will not drop them until they run out."

Unlike the Lauren Ralph Lauren product, much of the Ralph Lauren Home product is sourced directly, Rood said. Licensees include Folia, a division of P/Kaufmann for decorative fabrics and wallcoverings; Karastan for broadloom and rugs; and Henredon for furniture. Bedding is sourced directly as is most of the tabletop, gifts and accessories, Rood related.

The Home Collection is in 18 stores in this country and three in Europe — two in England and one in Belgium. There is one interior designer showroom, here in the D&D building, "and hopefully there will be more," Rood added.

The department store-oriented Lauren Ralph Lauren collection continues to expand the fashion bath shop concept, presenting a variety of fancy and jacquard towel coordinates with each bedding collection. During market, Lauren revived the cable jac towel and showed embroideries, striped and cuffed dobbys, and a sculpted lattice design with the plaid woven into the warp.

Shower curtains are pieced, embellished or constructed in better fabrications. New offerings included a linen curtain with an inset border, a ribbed cloth curtain with a 14-inch crochet cuff and a chino with leather belt-buckle tabs.

The bath line that ships for spring '04 also includes reversible pile/loop bath rugs. Hard bath accessories are being positioned as "sophisticated coordinates," employing wicker, milk glass and other differentiated materials.

Better constructions also lead the way in throws, dec pillows, blankets and quilts — all areas where Lauren sees opportunity to establish the brand in classification business.

Components debuted at market included cashmere/ wool throws in black, green and tobacco; linen throws with embroidery or ribbon piping, and a light "spring-weight" fringe throw. Dec pillows coordinates included a needlepoint, a quilted chino with leather buckles and crochet accents.

In bedding, Lauren Ralph Lauren has introduced its first print bed in a 350-count construction. In printed sheet coordinates, Lauren this market upgraded to the same 370 sateen construction used in its better solid color sheeting line.

The Ralph Lauren collection — which is exclusive to Polo Ralph Lauren stores — debuted four lifestyle suites, pulling forward many sheeting components from previous lines.

Marsailles, a French-inspired beach group, mixes a bright red paisley, a dish towel stripe and a batik-on-denim pattern in its bedding ensemble.

Coldwater Canyon is an architecturally driven collection layering a linen duvet with a large-scale zebra print over a suede bed blanket.

Chartwell, an English cottage look, presented a floral-faced quilt with mattress-ticking reverse, paisley throw pillows and heathered cashmere blankets in pink and blue.

Job's Lane, a nod to Hampton's living, employed the energetic pop of bright colors mixed with white and a patchwork duvet with mini windowpane sheeting. Accent pieces included cashmere cable throws and terry square pillows.

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