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Cecile Corral

Tropical tidal wave hits the States

NEW YORK-A tropical breeze is steadily blowing easterly, and it's about to hit New York at the April market.

Trends in table linens and kitchen textiles are calling for warmer climates, tropical wildlife and zesty citrus fruits.

"The tropical theme represents somewhat of an easy lifestyle," said Robyn Tracy, manager of marketing and new product development for Hope Valley, RI-based Kay Dee Designs. "It's a little more fun and playful. People are looking for that."

Tracy said that his company first noticed a trend toward tropical not long ago when palm tree motifs became popular, especially among gift retailers. "It was a more English colonial look they were looking for," Tracy said.

"Based on that and our need to have merchandise for our Florida and Hawaii customers like Stein Mart, we've put together collections of things with tropical orientations and brighter colors."

Among those offerings are Pineapple Coast, centered around a pineapple theme; and Key Largo, a pattern by South Florida artist Paul Brent that features hibiscus flowers and tropical fish in bright hues.

But tropical themes cannot alone carry the trend, Tracy said.

"We print only on 100 percent cotton because it lends itself to it," she added.

Similarly, La Villanella, based in Santa Monica, CA, will introduce a new 100 percent cotton tablecloth, imported from Italy, that is a woven piquet with a 4-inch printed pattern border. Patterns for the border include "delicious cherries, zesty lemons, brilliant sunflowers and delicate violets in outstanding colors," said marketing director Jill Castellano.

Taking tropical to new heights is the New York-based J Marie Home Collections, which will introduce place mats and coasters made of inlay bamboo, shells, wood cuts and coconut twigs-"just a twist on tropical to make it a little more high-end and not as casual as tropical themes typically tend to be," said Janeen Johnson, president.

Johnson noted that about half of the entire American population lives within 100 miles of a coastline.

"People love the idea of tropical because it brings to mind relaxation, fresh air, blue skies; and everyone loves that," she said.

Louisville Bedding Co.'s savvy design team decided April market was the perfect opportunity to blend together their two top lines-animal skins and tropical motifs-to create a new tropical line.

"By merging the two, it gives the customer extensions to current collections with fresh, new looks," said Stacy Toner, director of product development. "People are still interested in both animal and tropical. The customer is still trying to get any animal print out there, and by offering something new it opens them up to new styling in existing patterns. Customers don't want to let go yet of the animal, so we are trying to give them more."

One example of Louisville Bedding's latest tropical animal effort is the new "cub" pattern in a sage, taupe or brown background.

"It's a continuation of the animal and tropical themes," said Marliese Krivobok-Johnson, head designer of fashion products. "The sage color is a fresh look that exemplifies the merging of these two trends."

Also using wildlife to capture a new tropical look is Golden Holidays, based in Duarte, CA. Its new tiger and zebra pattern introductions of table runners are made of sheer and nylon fabrics that coordinate with a matching wooden tray.

Escondido, CA-based R and M Industries is doing with its new line of table linens what it's already been doing successfully with its decorative pillow lines-faux animal skin patterns titled Mini-skin, Congo and Zebra.

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