Beacon Throws Down Gauntlet

Silk or Poly: Can You Tell?

Brent Felgner, March 23, 2009

In 1976, the so-called Judgment of Paris set the wine-loving world on its ear when a side-by-side, blind taste test resulted in California wines placing higher than the French. But polyester out-handing silk? It seems preposterous.

Yet, that's essentially what Beacon Looms said it has accomplished, and it set out to prove it with a side-by-side test of sorts in its showroom during this month's market.

"We're really value engineers," Sandy McNeil, vp of sales and merchandising, told HTT. "We take very, very expensive, very high-end looks and translate them beautifully into a value that works in today's economy. One of our real differentiators is that we can work with various yarns and skilled weavers, and we've got a technical design staff that works on accomplishing an incredible look."

So much so, she insisted, that Beacon has mixed the original Italian, Portuguese and other European fabrics with its inexpensive interpretations.

For example, Galanti is a high-twist, multiple yarn, heavy-duty textural silk. In silk alone, it would have sold for $75 a panel and about $250 for a queen bedding set, McNeil said. Translated to silk/poly, the price comes down to $50, panel, and $195 for the bedding; all poly, it's $15 for the panel and $65 for the comforter set.

"If you put the all-silk and the all-poly side-by-side, you can't tell the difference, she claimed.

Sophia takes inspiration from Italian silk, with Beacon's fabric designer adding their own motif, still holding the antique look in the background. The original could sell for $250; translated, it's about $60 or $65.

At the other end of the spectrum, Beacon offers what McNeil described as "cheap and cheerful," such as Matahari.

"It's bright and colorful with bangles and beads, very affordable. And any consumer can give a room a quick lift in dec pillows and windows," McNeil said.

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