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Solid Color Still Key

Color and surface interest will remain the two most important saleable points at this fall's New York Home Textiles Market and into the foreseeable future, according to major sheeting and towel suppliers.

Several of the major bed and/or bath suppliers have expanded their palettes and are adding programs featuring new constructions or high-performance fabrics — the anticipated trend moving into 2005.

“In every major business in the home textiles industry, the biggest component is the role that solid color plays in the merchandising of products,” said Bob Dale, president of WestPoint Stevens' bed and bath division. “It appears that solid color is considered less risky than patterns. Retailers are beginning to recognize that you can increase life span and sell a lot more units this way. Solid color represents the least risk, most opportune way to promote products.”

Dale added that WestPoint's chromatherapy concept of horizontally displaying products in coordinating color families has really taken off. “We are utilizing color, texture, and cut-and-sew elements to line extend businesses and virtually explain to the consumer how products work together, thereby facilitating cross-merchandised sales,” he explained.

At Springs, several new colors have been added along with new programs to Wamsutta sheet offerings. The company has added a new 600-count sateen sheet in leaf, wintergreen, daffodil, olive, mauve, sunset orange, copper and crystal. Also new are 250-count cotton-soft blend and 300-count 60/40 blend sheet sets.

In the existing 500-count sateen program, new colors include melon, sky blue and slate. In the 400-count sateen program, blue grey, rose dust, leaf, dusty teal and teastain have been added. In the 400-count luxury-blend sheeting program, Chinese red, dusty yellow, cafe, mineral, blackberry, driftwood, fern and blush have been added. In Springs' 360-count Supima twill program, new colors include plum, salmon, aqua and parchment.

In addition, Springs will be featuring high-performance fabrics/treatments this market such as Amicor, Lycra, Coolmax and Teflon as part of its growing Wamsutta Sleepology program, which includes a new wrinkle-free 360-count cotton sheet set. Wamsutta Sleepology is centered around solution-based sheets that address consumers' concerns about better fit, durability, dust mites, wrinkles and comfort through temperature control.

“We've been through the thread-count wars, so where we are now is attribute products that address customer needs in the marketplace,” said Jon Murphy, sheet product manager for Wamsutta at Springs. “We are trying to focus on lifestyle enhancers now and think the retailer is looking for new product, new direction as well.”

“We'll also be repositioning the Wamsutta 400-count luxury-sateen program from a price-value standpoint, moving it from $59.99 queen retail to $49.99, adding a new hem treatment and new packaging,” said Murphy. “We're bringing retails down in order to continue to provide value and address marketplace conditions.”

Rich Langone, vice president of design in the bedding division at Springs, added, “We are seeing color as a trend in itself — an increased saturation of color across the board. More color is entering the home in both bedding and bath now.” He also sees the popularity of brights and pastels continuing in 2005.

As for colors, an emergence of yellows and greens (citrus colors, apple green, kiwi and sugar snap) will be important for spring and summer next year. Langone also expects greens to deepen to kelly and emerald in 2005. He noted aquas, greener-casted blues and teals, as well as oranges (apricot and tangerine) and reds in russet and earth tones as being strong in apparel fashion at present.

“We're also seeing powder pink as being popular from the influence of Chanel-inspired tweed-like fabrics,” said Langone, adding that black and white continue as strong trends often accompanied by a bright accent color.

In towels, the emphasis is on the addition of aquas and oranges throughout. A new unbranded Color Expressions cotton towel with a palette of 24 colors has been added. The palette consists of six clean contemporary brights (orange pop, lime, hot pink, blueberry, marigold and plum), six whitened brights (aqua, orange smoothie, mint, positively pink, blue sky and lemon shake-up) six pastels (ivory, peach mist, misty green, blue shadow, stone and cloud gray) and six deep traditional colors (camel, rust, olive, smoke blue, brownstone and soot).

In Wamsutta, a new ring-spun cotton towel has been added in 12 pale dusty pastels and mid-traditional colors: white, ivory, cloud, sage, sea foam, cornsilk, haze, blush, ivy, taupe, smoke and apricot. A special construction towel of modal and cotton has also been added with a palette of 18 light pastels and deep colors. They are white, ivory, lemon mist, spa, thyme, mauve, linen, blue haze, golden olive, antique gold, smoke, plum, sable, russet, wine, marine, deep green and eggplant.

Information on Court of Versailles programs was unavailable at press time, although there will be new introductions at market in both towels and bedding.

Dan River is adding four new colors to its 300-count, ring-spun-cotton Alexander Julian Watercolours sheeting program. The color additions are grape, walnut, evergreen and Riviera, a fresh Mediterranean sea blue.

According to Dan River's Geri Wetmore, vice president of lifestyle brand marketing and new business development, more people are entertaining in the home and looking to spend more on purchases. “They are looking to personalize their bedrooms, therefore the ability to mix and match or build a collected look becomes more important,” said Wetmore. “People are looking for simplicity in their lives, their homes and the designs they purchase.”

She added that cotton sheeting continues to gain momentum. In thread counts, 300 and 220 remain important. “Details are critical for adding perceived value, and fabrics found in apparel markets continue to inspire bedding constructions,” said Wetmore.

Melanie Kaplan, senior vice president of design for Dan River, added that fresh, clean colors with classic dressmaker details featured on hem treatments and different takes on pastels are selling well in sheeting. “I think people are looking for color,” she stated, pointing to plums, rose tones, sable, chestnut and coffee as key directional colors.

Divatex is adding 10 new colors in high thread count sheets (320-plus sateens and dobby sateens). The new colors are silver blue, hot pink, pale pink, chocolate brown, espresso, gray, bright orange, dusty orange, lime green and Tiffany blue. In jersey knits, it is adding the same 10 new colors as well as hem treatments in contrasting brights.

The company is also showing new compact-yarn sheeting in high thread counts and jersey knits. Two varieties of bamboo sheeting will be featured in two to three mainstream colors; one is 100 percent bamboo yarn, the other a 50/50 cotton/bamboo blend. Also new summer-weight, high thread-count cotton sheets will be featured. In towels, Divatex is showing bright colors for solid-color and striped-cotton towels.

“We have tried to focus on a few new constructions for breathability and anti-crease, but we believe sheets are about touch and feel, the quality of the yarns,” said Avi Gross, Divatex president. “Solids are still responsible for more than 50 percent of sales in sheets and 80 to 90 percent of higher-end sheets that are sold,” added Gross, saying pricing should remain constant despite quotas.

DWI Holdings is going into new fabrications in sheeting with a 510-count Egyptian cotton Royalty Twill stripe sheet that's a new concept for the company meant to broaden its assortment with twin, full, queen and king sizes. Sheets will be offered in four new colors: opal, pebble, blue moon and green tea, while top of bed will come in white and oyster.

Also new is Verona, a 510-count sateen sheet with a European turn-back hem in white and oyster colorways. The sheet is an engineered jacquard in a small interlocking diamond motif with elaborate hemstitching on the cuff. In its open-line yarn-dyed silk-button-quilt program, which now has a palette of six colors, mocha has been added.

“By adding the two new fabrications, we are raising the bar on fabrics and adding a new tailored concept to our best-selling floral-jacquard Royalty program,” said Marcia Brandwein, creative director for DWI Holdings.

She sees huckleberry colors like grape, mulberry and blue-casted lavender; warm, comfortable and cozy brown and gold shades (pecans and bittersweets); blues-tinged with green; and whites and creams as important.

At Croscill, new colors are being added to the Mist Micronair towel and Mist 350-count cotton-sateen sheet. They are apple green, fuchsia, surf aqua and orange. A new sculpted jacquard towel called Beads is being added to the Jonathan Adler program. In the new Croscill Casuals brand, the company is doing new solid-color two-toned sheets with young rickrack items on the hems such as daisies, circles and other geometric shapes.

According to David Kahn, Croscill president and CEO, the company is tying in tweeds to bedding, bath and windows as an unofficial non-solid solid program.

“Monochromatic tweeds have become more important than anything else in the non-solid solid world,” Kahn explained. He added that blues are going to surf aqua; greens to Spanish olive; pinks are being split between coral and bright fuchsia; and browns are very dark as chocolate brown remains, and taupes move to camel.

Veratex is launching a new 350-count Egyptian-cotton sheeting program called the Bloom Collection in six light/medium bright contemporary colors (cloud, pool, stem, orchid, twig and tigerlilly) with a one-inch windowpane dobby. Bloom will also be available in 50-by-60-inch rustic Scandinavian-inspired throws in the same palette. In the Medici collection, seven new jewel tones are being added: crimson, pomegranate, amethyst, persimmon, lichen, espresso and peacock.

According to Susan Hagen, head designer at Veratex, “Bloom reflects where the whole spring collection is this market, based on what's happening color-wise in ready-to-wear.”

Christy will be adding new colors to three of its best-selling towels. The Embrace With Silk towel, which features a mix of contemporary shades, will also have atmosphere and bamboo — colors inspired by soothing Asian tones to evoke tranquil interiors. Christy's Arcadian With SoftCotton towel has also been updated with a new color, latte, to complement existing colors inspired by natural organic materials. The Renaissance Egyptian cotton towel has two new shades — loganberry and rose dust — that are inspired by 1920s art deco in soft cosmetic tones.

Royale Linens will be using more brights in its 250-count cotton-rich blend. They are daffodil, salmon rose, blue Curacao, lotus green, purple and viola rose.

Alex Markarian, vice president of product development at Royale Linens, added, “There's more demand for solids than prints. The proportion of sales is growing. It could be that customers are going more for complicated/intricate top of bed, and it's easier for the consumer to coordinate different top-of-bed pieces with solid sheets.”

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