WestPoint building from the ground up

Retail Editor 3, September 9, 2012

At the New York Market - WestPoint is introducing three new brands this week - and as executives present each line a persistent strategy emerges: lead with design in fashion bedding and surround every property with classification businesses in bedding and bath.
"We are building from the ground up," said Taran Chernin, executive vp and chief merchandising officer. "We are developing key components that can go back to the fashion" season after season.
The idea is to lighten to load for retailers, she said, allowing them to rotate fresh bedding looks without having to stock up on new designs in coordinate sheets, coverlets and blankets.
The introduction of two new brands this market - Portico and Under the Canopy - had been announced previously. Also new is Southern Tide, a Greensville, S.C.-based manufacturer of men's apparel that in December rank No. 27 on Forbes' list of "America's Most Promising Companies."
With a huge following among college students and young men and distribution in menswear stores across the country, Southern Tide aims to be to the Millenials what Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger were to their fathers' generation.
WestPoint has created two lines: the more upscale Topsail collection and the Skipjack collection. Core sheeting for Topsail consists of 500-count sateen while sheeting for Skipjack includes a 250-count cotton sheet and a jersey sheet with added stretch called "The Softest Knitted Sheet." In addition, WestPoint is showing a stand-alone set of printed sheets in 200-count cotton.
"They don't coordinate back to anything," said Chernin. "They're just fun."
Both lines include core programs in towels, blankets. Topsail also offers two core matelasses while the Skipjack line includes fleece throws.
Southern Tide "has so much of a fresh perspective," said Norman Savaria, ceo. "Everything's an open opportunity for them."
The Portico and Under the Canopy brands both employ GOTTs-certified organic cotton and meet Oeko-Tex-certified sustainability standards. WestPoint's factories in Bahrain and Pakistan underwent testing for both certifications as did its cut-and-sew operation in Chipley, Fla.
Each brand includes core sheets, towels, blankets and coverlets. Products are either 100% organic cotton or a blend of organic cotton and Tencel.
This market, WestPoint has edited the Modern Living Collection it introduced last spring and, here too, is constructing classification businesses in bed and bath. The company is debuting 17 fashion beds in four lifestyles: wordly, new traditional, relax and contemporary.
"We're curating for our customer in a way they can take their design inkling and present it in a fresh way," said Chernin. By way of example she added: "Just because someone likes vintage doesn't mean they're not modern."
WestPoint's other big branding move this market involves a long-time staple - Vellux - which now becomes the company's house brand for all blanket constructions. "Vellux is not just a flocked foam blanket," said xxx.
The company is showing Vellux in cotton, fleece, Sherpa reversing to fleece, filled blankets, plush and ombre mink.
To promote WestPoint's newest brands, Under the Canopy founder Marci Zaroff and Southern Tide founder Allen Stephenson will both be in WestPoint's showroom at 28 E. 28th St.


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