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Bill Blass Home Arrives from Town & Country

Debut Collection under NexCen Brands

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, August 7, 2007

Town & Country is launching the Bill Blass Home bedding and bath collection with 10 beds, comprising eight designs, and six bath groups.

The collection is inspired by designs from the extensive Bill Blass archives of apparel and lifestyle design, as well as by the current apparel couture collection that is featured in Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Saks Fifth Avenue, among others, said Rick Platt, president of NexCen Brands home division.

The collection, Platt added, "is true to Blass's signature menswear look with glen plaids, pinstripes, textures, and a gamut of plaids. The solid color sheet uses the Bill Blass logo on a 400 count cotton sateen."

Town & Country, which holds the master license in home for Bill Blass, had the license before NexCen acquired Blass. "The NexCen partnership is so powerful — with their relationships at retail, their positioning of brands, marketing strength," said David Beyda, chairman of Town & Country. "There are an awful lot of people wanting to make product with his name and style."

In apparel, Bill Blass is being marketed as Couture, Premium Luxury, Accessible Luxury, and Blassport. And while the debut collection falls into the Accessible Luxury category, said Beyda, "We'll continue to layer on with Couture if there is a need in the market."

"Bill Blass goes back decades, and it does $300 million at retail," Platt pointed out, "and has an 80% name recognition among consumers. It's a significant business."

Platt added, "His style is what it's all about. We worked with the apparel designer and there's a reason for each of the beds. We couldn't be happier about how it looks."

For the home business, the initial distribution, Platt explained, will be to department stores and better specialty stores. "We want to get as wide a distribution as possible. We have a full marketing plan to support the home launch, and retail as well."

An important marketing element in the home collection launch will be the concurrent launch of the Bill Blass fragrance nationwide at Saks, Platt pointed out.

In terms of the bedding introductions, Beyda noted, "We paid a lot of attention to the decorative pillows on each bed. There are lots of cut and sew treatments, patchworks, textures, buttons. We built accessory pieces."

The collection includes Blaine, geared toward a younger customer and derived from actual Bill Blass sketches, with tweed as a theme. In a different vein is Eva, a bed with white lace eyelet and pleating; as well as Paisley, a paisley with a menswear stripe and a quilted pillow. About 70% of the collection is prints.

Price points are $149.99 to $199.99 for the queen comforter. Embellished bath towels are $24.99.

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