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Down Lite does dec pillows now

Known for years as a source for basic bedding, Down Lite International is making a foray into the fashion world with a new line of decorative pillows.

Filled with a variety of down and feather blends or down alternatives, the line was introduced during the Home Textiles Market last month at Down Lite's traditional base of operations during market, the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. Four lines were unveiled and a fifth one is on the way.

According to Down Lite, retail price points for the line range from $9.99 for the smallest size to $69.99. Each has down-proof shell inserts, zippered linings upon request and unique embellishments. Sizes may also be customized according to retailer. All are assembled in the United States.

"We thought it would be a great accessory product and one in which we felt, in the natural fill area, has not had the type of exposure this product could create," Bob Altbaier, senior vp, told HTT. "It's a tremendous opportunity for us."

No coordination is planned, for the time being, between the decorative pillow collection and the company's other down products.

Despite Down Lite's long-established reputation as a basic bedding supplier, Altbaier said the company has been in the fashion business for a couple of years as a result of its licensing agreement with the New York-based luxury bedding company Croscill Home to produce down-based comforters, duvets and quilts.

"Rather than being new to us, it's more of an unknown to our customers," Altbaier said, adding that once retailers got over their initial surprise, reactions were very positive.

Altbaier said Down Lite is hoping to place the line with department stores, catalogers and specialty stores. Down Lite is shipping the line in February 2003.

Cuba Libre uses rich earth tones and tropical embroideries, including pineapples and palm trees. Twisted cording trims complete the look.

Modern patterns in deep blacks, red and grays are paired with a mix of sheers, reverse patterns and modern flair for the Urban Loft line.

Proper English features floral patterns paired with soft embroidery and a mix of sheers and various embellishments.

Chinese Take Out combines Asian-inspired prints with colored sheers and finishes including plastic fortune cookies, chopsticks and other embellishments.

The scheduled fifth collection, Go Bananas, blends monkey prints with safari embellishments. Other collections may be added as customer demand dictates.

Asked about the amount of orders generated by the new line, Altbaier replied, "Our experience has been that it takes until the second time you show something before you really start to generate orders. We expect volumes will be limited and we will make a big push in fall 2003."

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