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Buyers see a vibrant and colorful market

It will be a colorful world of home textiles at retail next spring.

The return of exciting colors was the dominant direction cited by retailers who attended the home textiles market here last month. From rich spice tones reflecting the influence of orange, to a range of purples and tropical brights, color was Topic A.

The emergence of lively color was especially noted in decorative bedding as a welcome relief from seasons of neutrals and naturals.

In an interesting twist, basic bedding — pillows, pads and comforters — and often a stepchild in senior managements' oversight, were given high marks for innovation by a number of retailers. Construction enhancements, down blankets and luxury treatments were among the key developments.

And for a number of retailers, suppliers this market seemed to hit the mark in creating excitement in teen and tweener bedding.

Stein Mart

Pat Stagner, gmm

"Newport looked good, and Avanti really was strong with trims, embellishments and novelty effects. Raymond Waites was very good, and Peking's new pillows were strong. The Lilly Pulitzer collection at Dan River and anything in that look were important."

Parisian

Tom Rice, buyer, textiles

"What struck me was how competitive pricing is right now — so much product has moved offshore. Fashion bedding companies are taking a real hard stand to go offshore and offer product with better treatments and upscale looks at better prices. Also, in an area where bedding used to have so much light beige and dark beige, there is now tons of color. Vendors came to the table with lots off color. The market was all about pricing and color. I also was surprised at the breadth of rugs at Springs, which has bought enough vendors that whatever type of rug you want, they will sell it to you."

Macy's West

Paul Fitzpatrick, senior vp

"Down Lite was really exciting with their eco-natural, organic product. It was terrific. The Donna Karan Collection was really exciting; it's a big opportunity for us. And the decorative pillows at Donna Karan were fabulous.

"Tommy Hilfiger was younger and more fun with the denim and khaki paired with the men's shirting stripes, and the upper-end Crest program was great. The utility merchandise had a younger look. Revman's Dean Millerton and Dan River's animal skin bed in a bag were strong."

Linen Source

Lisa Street, buyer

"Overall, I thought the mills were really weak from a fashion bedding standpoint because they haven't taken as many fashion risks in the last year and a half. They don't look as if they are going out of the box much but instead have been reinventing past patterns that have been successful. We did see a lot more imports and pieced designs, which was good. We are always looking for new patterns, color combinations and freshness of design.

"Raymond Waites looked really good because this time they had some lighter colorations; usually his designs are darker and more opulent. Croscill had a wider variety of introductions such as tropical, cottage, Southwest, casual looks, etc. and not as much over-the-top master bedroom opulence. Veratex looked interesting with some fun bedding patterns in terms of details such as feather trims and shaggy fur looks. Thomasville also looked really good — some tropical, Southwest, a little more edgy and some master bedroom looks. Hollander also had some interesting new introductions, but they always look good and are pretty consistent with some new looks each market.

"Joseph Abboud, Ralph Lauren, Echo and Nautica all looked really good with a great sense of color and new fashion elements such as stripes.

"We were looking for new fabrications in down comforters and blankets, and enhancements to pads, giving longer life spans to mattresses. We saw some great new showings of down as well as microsuede comforters at PCF, Blue Ridge and WestPoint Stevens. We really liked the higher thread counts and colorations in down blankets. Phoenix Down also had some interesting luxury toppers and down products."

JCPenney

Steve Jebbia, vp, dmm, bed and bath

"Pacific Coast Feather was very creative and showed good things in the Dockers pads and pillows program. In juvenile and teen bedding, Pem America, Dan River and Brittanica were strong. Veratex looked good with better fabrics and more mainstream approaches. American Pacific was strong."

Gottschalks

Phil Jones, domestics buyer

"I found quite a lot of the same things that we've been seeing for the past few markets — textured woven jacquards and micro-fibers. Peking Handcrafts looked good; they had a much larger showroom and a lot more comforter sets, not just quilts. Arrow Industries was quite strong. They had a lot of pineapple looks, the Tommy Bahama-inspired looks. Those were the two strongest. There were some things I liked at Dan River and at Springs."

Expo Design

Alan Holland, global product merchant

"Croscill looked good in windows — they're stepping out on the edge. I liked their jewel treatments, but it needs special hardware to make it work.

"Lichtenberg stepped up, especially in mid-weights. CHF continued to be strong in developing embellishing both top and bottom treatments. They are simple, and the colors are right."

Boscov's

Corina Roth, merchandising manager, domestics

"All in all, we felt that market was very positive. We saw many opportunities to replace lost business, and we're doing more business with smaller non-mills as well as more importing and private label ourselves. Before we got to market, there were a lot of voids in towels, but we were encouraged by what we saw at market."

Bloomingdale's

Lester Gribetz, senior vp, home fashions

"I liked Donna Karan a lot and especially Victoria Falls in Collection and the black cotton jersey in Pure Night. Kim Parker at CHF was outstanding — a knockout — and the Nick Munro bath was strong. I liked the new approach to Court of Versailles at Springs. Royal Sateen was strong and the Lauren Ralph Lauren bath."

Big Lots

Joann Rosenberg, senior domestics buyer

"I liked Park Smith's color palette, found throughout most product categories. The melon, yellow and pink combination, as well as the blue, purple and green one, were a good mix and use of color. Otherwise, CHF looked very good in bedding and window in their use of fabrics and trims. Window hardware looked beautiful — there was good stuff in that showroom."

Anna's Linens

Carie Gladstone Doll, vp, merchandise

"I definitely saw some beautiful, beautiful fabrics in decorative pillows, like Brentwood [Original]'s new take on chenilles and embellishments.

"I saw some great new area and scatter rugs at Maples. They have some great new constructions.

"I saw some really great new furniture covers — both fitted and throws — at Madison.

"And I saw some really nice selections at Natco. They have some great values in decorative pillows and table linens with unbelievable pricing."

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