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A market to remember

Yes, it was only two weeks ago. Buyers in all channels who reflected on the New York Home Textiles Market said there was a lot to like.

ABC Carpet & Home

Alex Kimia, senior executive vice president

"For the past few years, I have noticed a growing trend in the rug industry to market products under designer labels, which may not always be a good thing. A designer name may allow for a higher price point, but it seems that many rug manufacturers have been focusing more on the label than on the actual quality of the rugs.

"This is confusing, because designer names are not normally the first thing the consumer looks for in floor coverings anymore. Today's consumer has more of an eye for quality and style, and the brand name is often secondary, if it is even considered at all.

"In the future, I would like to see more of a focus on stylish new designs and colors and higher quality pieces, as consumers tend to look for rugs that will last and stay beautiful for years to come."

Anna's Linens

Kevin McLain, merchandise manager, bedding and window treatments

"Overall, I thought market was excellent, with more offerings, more open-to-buy and more values than we've ever seen in New York. And I think it's because of the exposure of Chinese goods, which add tremendous value in all product categories, not just bedding and window.

"Hollander was more creative and innovative than ever with basic bedding and basic bed pillows. They made their bed pillows more interesting for the customer, which is hard to do in a category that is very basic.

"S. Lichtenberg had their best market we've ever seen them have. They had tremendous value basics. They had great fabrications and really added a lot of value to the product. They have so much to offer that it's going to be hard for us to choose what we want.

"In fashion bedding, Arrow was the best we saw, with the most new introductions. All their goods are coming out of China. Their fashions are right and their values are tremendous."

Bloomingdale's

Lester Gribetz, vice president, home furnishings/fashion direction

"Kate Spade's new bedding is brilliant; the new Royal Sateen designs from DWI are very good; the Court of Versailles at Springs has become the fastest growing collection on our floor, and the new items are great including the bath accessories; and the new Kim Parker bedding and bath accessories at CHF are fabulous."

Burdines-Macy's

Peggy Bader, buyer, luxury and designer bedding

"I saw several highlights at market. Ralph Lauren looked very good. The Hope chest pattern was incredible, and I also like Grosvenor Square. At Calvin Klein, I liked Nebulous Flower and Veridian.

"DKNY Life looked really fabulous. I liked in their Pure line Highland, and I also liked the Dusted Moonlight collection. For Donna Karan Collection, City Sky was great.

"Tommy Hilfiger's Holly and all the new chino colors with print sheet sets were big.

"And for Waterford (at W-C Designs) I liked Baltray."

Expo Design Center

Alan Holland, global product merchant

"There was a lot of salable product in window coverings, but with everyone sourcing, it will be at least 90 to 120 days before the goods get here. There's been an evolution of soft pleats, embellishments, whether attached rings, grommets, etc. give a custom look at ready-made prices. There were lots of solids from velvets to satins to faux suedes. Croscill had major solid-color introductions; Park Smith was strong, and the Peri division of CHF was important. Waverly had a new cuff panel, and Veratex had four or five different looks for the window. Crocodile and leather looks that are more contemporary are coming on especially at Croscill, FR Industries, and Burlington at Springs."

FRED'S INC.

Cynthia Holmes, linens and domestics buyer

"Victoria Classics had a nice Venetian theme running through its showroom for bedding, curtains and dec pillows, which I really liked. The focus was on textures and surface interest. Their combination bed in the front window was very interesting, combining a lot of different fabrics and textures.

Bedding: "I noticed a lot of color in different showrooms this market, which was refreshing. People picked up on some of the European colors that are really hot right now. There were a lot of contemporary looks as well as traditional styles. David & Goliath as well as FUBU were very interesting and different at Haywin's showroom. I noticed animal prints as well as palms are still present as a basic in bedding.

Dec Pillows: "Arlee had some interesting price points on dec pillows. Monogrammed looks were a big part of the decorative pillow category this market.

Towels & Rugs: "I liked what both American Dawn and Mohawk are doing with their components of the Raymond Waites line. They offer a really rich color palette that caught my attention."

Fred Meyer

Kim Danner, home division trend and product coordinator

"I was excited about seeing new neutrals — slightly tinted neutrals like jewel tones that have some color, but nothing in your face. Also, there's been a nice resurgence of green in many hues — yellow-green, sea glass and olive, for example.

"I like the fact that (in bedding) flat jacquards are taking a back seat. Woven jacquards look so flat and boring. I was glad to instead see what I call more dressmaker-type looks at aggressive prices, like textured jacquards with embellishments and patchwork. Now you can get anything you want at a good price. We're finding a lot of newness in the smaller import companies. They have the product that is affordable and unique and they'll do stuff for us.

"Keeco is looking great now. They've got innovative patchwork designs.

"Pem America had a cool line. The Columbia line looked unbelievable. It's so Northwest — and that's right up our alley."

JCPenney

Steve Jebbia, vice president /dmm, bed and bath

"Croscill's Jonathan Adler bath looked cool. Veratex looks, as well as pricing, were impressive. Sleep Innovations spa products were important as a part of the growing spa movement. There's a lot of Latin influence, with Mohawk's looking good. Pem America had some strong, younger looks with sportswear brands like Columbia Sportswear and Maxim. The emphasis on color continues to be important and brightens the attitude across the market."

Kohl's

Gary Nickolie, buyer

"I saw a lot of juvenile products, especially in bright colors, that were fun to see, both in licensed and generic designs but more so in non-licensed looks. The colors, more than anything, were more exciting than some of the basic home décor I saw. Mohawk Home makes our juvenile rugs and they had some strong new looks so we're keeping up with that.

"Springs (Industries) had a lot of imported rugs and they showed a lot of different things there.

"In wool, everyone showed shags. Originally, shags came back as more retro '70s looks. But now I'm seeing more updated designs and new constructions that look much better and make the shag stand up better.

"I still see a lot of red in the marketplace, which is good. It's still doing well in the market, especially in rugs, accent rugs and doormats."

Macy's West

Kris Deaton, vice president/dmm textiles, luggage, candy, food

"It was very exciting at the designer level — they all are settling into their niche — and customers are reacting to newness. Waterford was strong, Kate Spade is another niche, and Court of Versailles is very exciting from the bedding options to the bath. Lauren by Ralph Lauren's white bed made a different statement, and the Lauren bath tied in nicely with the bedding. Tommy Hilfiger did the younger look with the stripes — it was fantastic. Calvin Klein did color as only Calvin can do — and the green bed was gorgeous — that line was balanced and exciting. And DKNY is a new adventure every market — now it is more sophisticated for the master bedroom."

Marshall Field's

Becky Anderson, buyer for basic bedding

Basic bedding: "One new launch that will be interesting to see where it goes is Jockey at Perfect Fit. I think that it's a brand that makes sense in the basic market because Jockey is a name that already is associated with basic clothing items for comfort. It's a natural fit. One big thing more so at the Javits Center was silk in basic bedding in shells or fill as a new alternative to down or polyester. Sterns & Foster at Pacific Coast Feather is another brand that absolutely makes sense in luxury basics. Luxury is working very well in the basics category. The overall trend is that people are trying to make the products softer and more comfortable. Fabric treatments like Teflon are huge right now. Sleep Innovations' new Novaform memory foam mattress was also very interesting with its wonderful feel and unique wheeled packaging."

Rich's Lazarus Goldsmith's Macy's

Ivan Kelley, buyer, bath textiles/table linens

"In bath accessories, the new Jonathan Adler line at Croscill looked very strong and was very refreshing for what you typically see at Croscill. It's an updated look for them, with a wide range of colors.

"Ralph Lauren (bath) looked very strong. It continues to evolve and gives us a very well rounded look for the bath. It had great new jacquard towels which tie back to bedding. One collection, Desert Sky, for bed and bath was new and different.

"In rugs, Nourison had some great accent constructions which continue to get better and better.

"Sunham's rugs looked very strong. (The company) had some great new designs and some innovative constructions. Mainly, Sunham's accent rugs looked great."

Saks Department Store Group

Bruce Morel, vice president of product development, textiles and housewares

"At Pem America, I thought what they did with the Columbia (active wear brand) line and how they translated it into home was incredible. They made lots of skus and had a strong breadth of assortment for good/better/best qualities.

"Also very good was (Pem America's) Maxim line. It was different and it was nice to see something that is more of a sophisticated, urban, middle-aged man look. It's perfect for the bachelor but it doesn't have to be for a bachelor. The bedding looks cool and updated, and I think it really speaks to the customer.

"In the case of PHI, we saw some

artwork pre-market (for top-of-bed) that we thought was going to be challenging to our high expectations. But I thought the way they ended up pulling it off was great, with the sateen, pieced and jacquard looks."

Select Comfort

Sandy Bystrom, accessory supply chain manager

Basic bedding: "What was interesting at market was all the talk about down prices with the avian flu situation. Everyone was talking about this. I think there will be a lot more scrutiny of what is a true down product as a result. I think we will see a lot more blending of feathers and down to keep prices competitive, but I think prices will rise and people will be booking early. There was a lot of surface interest such as microsuede, high-end sheet counts, fabulous hem treatments and color. I think the addition of color has been fabulous and is an area we are looking at now for accessory items such as throws and pillows. We find that this pulls customers in to buy our core bedding products, which are primarily mattresses."

Stein Mart

Pat Stagner, general merchandising manager

"I thought it was a great market. I saw more color than I've seen for a long while, and that's encouraging. A lot of paprika and spice, and orange all over the place, orange in all kinds of shades. I thought Avon looked good, and Newport. And Avanti looked good.

"In terms of looks, I saw that tree of life Jacobean pattern creep up in a lot of places. And that whole mod thing was all over. And you know, I'm seeing a lot of blue in tabletop, in dinnerware, and I'm wondering if that's something we're going to start seeing in home. Blue is a tricky color, though."

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