Taking the place of P'tex

Michele SanFilippo, September 8, 2003

To say the demise of Pillowtex left a void in the solid-color sheet and towel segment would be an understatement. The event actually created tremendous opportunity for suppliers already producing solid-color sheets and towels as well as for others rising to the challenge of creating new programs to fill retailers' shelves.

The Pillowtex collapse left $220 million in wholesale sheeting business and $455 million in towel business up for grabs. While potential bidders for its brands are preparing for the Oct. 2 auction date — and although retailers were quick to turn to alternate sources to replace Pillowtex product in the immediate term — leading suppliers are moving in to fill the gaps.

Springs will launch a 300-count Egyptian sateen and a 400-count Egyptian/cotton blend sheet program, bringing its solid-color program offerings to nine. Dan River, which traditionally offers a solid-color sheet program only under its Alexander Julian license, has expanded into multiple non-solid solid programs under its upper/moderate licensed brands. Croscill Home, a relative newcomer to the solid color world, is adding two programs to its solid color sheet line and launching its first open-line solid color towel program.

The following details outline what some of the major suppliers are offering this market in terms of solid-color sheets and towels.

Springs will feature a total of seven sheeting programs this market under Wamsutta and two under Court of Versailles that include additions to their color palettes and/or changes to their constructions. Wamsutta's 500-count sateen sheeting program is adding one new color, Nantucket, for a total of 10 hues. In the 300-count supima line, Springs is adding 16 new colors that have all been pre-sold. They are white, black, ivory, jonquil, pale jade, maize, cameo, flax, scarlet, Wedgewood, concord, quarry, midnight, thistle, pebble and pistachio.

For the 400-count luxury sateen line, which has a total palette of 14 colors, four new colors have been added: cameo, celadon, cornflower and sterling. The new 360-count supima twill line, a new cloth type for the supplier with a brand-new palette of 21 hues, has an overall feeling of sophistication with a saturation of rich color. The palette includes white, chalk, dune, gold, tiger's eye, walnut, coffee bean, moss, jade, pistachio, maize, praline, rust, cordovan, eggplant, ink, azure, navy, black, slate and graphite. Springs has currently pre-sold 17 of these colors.

Springs also is offering a new 300-count Egyptian sateen sheet in an array of 22 new colors, 18 of which have been pre-sold. This traditional color palette has grade undertones that are more subtle and subdued for master bedroom appeal. The new colors include: white, ivory, canvas, stone, pesto, rattan, eucalyptus, sage, river, periwinkle, delft, nocturne, midnight, concord, scarlet, lilac, canyon, russet, fig, mushroom, pewter and raven.

The mill's new 400-count Egyptian and cotton blend sheet, the highest blend Springs has introduced, will be available in a palette of 12 new colors, six of which have been pre-sold. Donna Hein, Wamsutta's design team leader at Springs, described the palette as "more sophisticated than you'd usually find in a blend, but still fashion-directed." The palette consists of white, ivory, lilac, sage, shadow, sky, pear, Aegean, raspberry, basil, Baltic and espresso.

Springs' existing 280-count pima-rich cotton and polyester blend sheet, which comes in a younger, brighter palette of 27 colors, will now be available in five new colors: carnation, ocean, sun, magenta and grass.

Hein added that Wamsutta will also be introducing non-solid solid sheets featuring subtle patterning of a small print design or dobby weave. Its 300-count supima sheet will feature two new print patterns and one lace addition. The 400-count luxury sateen sheet will have three new extenders, and the 360-count supima twill will add three.

New sheeting additions under Court of Versailles will consist of four new colors on the 17-color palette of the 500-count sateen sheet. They are porcelain, crystal, sage and bisque. On the cotton silk jacquard Marie sheet, which was launched in spring, two new colors will be added: cameo and moss. Marie will also introduce some embellished sheets with lace attachments and trim.

In towels, five programs feature additions and/or changes.

Wamsutta's Centennial towel, which has a 30-color palette, will add eight new hues: mauve, thyme, mist, clay, dove, sable, bronze gold and twilight.

Wamsutta's new Estate Solid towel, which features a black warp base with deep body color and intricate jacquard borders, will be unveiled in eight colors. Hein described the towel as black on one side and either eggplant, olive, linen, cordovan, indigo, russet, spruce or tiger's eye on the other. Also new under Wamsutta is the Harmony Texture towel, which features a simple, subtle texture woven into the terry. This towel will be Springs' version of the non-solid solid and be available in four colors (mist, mauve, clay and linen).

Court of Versailles introduces a new construction featuring a softly woven 100-percent supima cotton yarn in 22 colors: ivory, cornsilk, apricot, thyme, sauterne, persimmon, moss, bronze, cameo, blue haze, orchid, steel blue, French blue, plum, azure, court red, bisque, crystal, moss, mocha, platinum and black.

The Regal towel line, which consists of a vertically woven yarn dyed stripe for a multi-colored effect, will be available in six color combinations. It consists of color families of either similar or contrasting tones. The six new color combos include blues (monochromatic blues), neutral (analogous tans and grays), ivory/black, arts 'n crafts (multi mid tones), reds (monochromatic reds) and tiger's eye (saturated golds, browns and reds).

At Dan River, new solid-color coordinate sheet programs play a big part in the product expansions of Alexander Julian, Lilly Pulitzer and Supreme Dimensions.

"All three brands bring a unique product to our luxury portfolio with high-end specifications and qualities," said Dan River's senior vp sales and marketing, Louis Casali. Features include extra deep pockets and extra wide flat sheets.

Supreme Dimensions' 300-count ring-spun cotton sheet features a non-solid stria effect in 11 colors: dune, palm, platinum, cloud, blossom, blue opal, hyacinth, lapis, merlot, graphite and topaz.

The Alexander Julian line's Water Colours program is introducing seven new colors to the casual contemporary palette for a total of 19 colors. They are bluegrass, Caribbean, grenadine, juniper, onyx, Pacific and Bordeaux. Construction will be stepped up from 220-count to 300-count ring-spun cotton.

Dan River has recently made style, design and pricing changes to the Lilly Pulitzer line, which will be featured for the first time in its showroom this market.

Lilly introduces a 300-count, ring-spun non-solid "pineapple" solid cotton sheet in sky blue, lemon twist, lime, white and pink lemonade with faggoting. Two embroidered white sheet offerings round out the assortment.

Croscill is adding two new layers to its solid color sheet offerings: 350-count and 375-count sheets. In its existing 310- and 410-program, it will add two new colors: lavender and celery.

The company also is entering the solid-color towel business with the Lavish line. The plush micronair cotton towels will be available in 10 colors: white, champagne, dusty rose, ocean, sage, claret, gold, bronze, plum and black. Lavish towel dimensions will feature a 34" x 60" bath sheet, a 30" x 56" bath towel weighing 16.75 pounds, a 16" x 30" hand towel and a 13" x 13" wash towel.

The Royal Sateen Home brand by D.W. Holdings Inc. is introducing a new embroidered Royalty Diamond sheet featuring more of a fashion look in its color assortment and embroidery addition. The sheet is a diamond jacquard with an intricate medallion in the center that comes in three new colors: slate, nutmeg and mahogany. The company is also adding another color (linen) to its best-selling sheet program, Royalty Floral, a 410-count jacquard sheet with an embroidered hem that is now available in eight colors.

"If solids are handled in a textured manner with luxury colors and accessories, the effect is quite beautiful and exciting," said Marcia Brandwein, creative director.

Veratex will add two new colors (black and cinnabar) to its best-selling Medici line, a 350-count, dobby weave Egyptian cotton sateen, bringing the palette to nine jewel colors.

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