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WestPoint picks up the pace

WestPoint HomeWestPoint made a bold statement with Eliza, part of the Modern Living collection that takes its cues from fast fashion.
At the New York Market - WestPoint Home continues its branded push, with expansions of existing collections, new brands and a marketing effort to highlight bedding that is cut, sewn and filled at its plant in Chipley, Fla., as well as towels made from U.S.-grown cotton.
This week the company is introducing the Dreamspun brand in sheets, which serves as an umbrella for a therapeutic sleep story. Several performance fibers are offered in the collection, including Sea Cell, Celliant, dri-release, Advansa ThermoCool and Cool Comfort. Constructions can hit various price points at retail, ranging from $99 to $179 for a queen sheet set.
"We worked with the manufacturers to get the optimum performance from the fibers," said Norman Savaria, president and ceo. "We optimized the weaving and we optimized the blends."
Another new sheet this market takes what has become an opening price point construction, microfiber, and kicks it upstairs. LuxeTouch is a better-quality, high-gsm microfiber sheet for the master bedroom. It is also wrinkle-free and quick drying.
In towels, the big story is "Grown in America." Constructions include ring-spun, Pima hollow core and Supima cotton grown in the United States and woven in South America. Tiered in a good/better/best format, the towels carry the American Cotton logo.
The new Fusion towel is a 50/50 blend of Egyptian and Pima cotton. "The consumer only knows that Egyptian and Pima are the best, but they don't know why," said Taran Chernin, executive vp and chief merchandising officer. "This gives them the double-whammy in terms of perceived value."
WestPoint is stepping up its game in two other classification businesses. The company is showcasing quilts across its brands not just as layering elements but also as fashion. "Some of these we can do in our own factory in Chipley," said Chernin.
The blanket business, rebranded as Vellux for all constructions two markets ago, has more than doubled in size this year, said Savaria, and has become the largest part of WestPoint's online business. The best-selling styles are not the foam flocked constructions for which Vellux was originally known, but plush and cotton. For market, WestPoint is up-specing the category, adding better fleece, better chambray fleece and better sheared pieces.
In fashion bedding, the Modern Living collection - used as an incubator for trend directions, often for private or captive labels - is starting to get traction under its own name. "It's been very strong online," said Chernin. "We purchase of lot of inventory."
The Southern Tide collection this market is adding master bedroom designs, a move prompted by sales results from the apparel brand's web site. "The day we launched, [the feedback] was ‘Where's the king size?'" said Savaria.
For back-to-college, WestPoint created a merchandising statement pulling together brands in its Design Lab collection under the heading "WestPoint Home, Design Lab, University Series." The brands include Southern Tide, Collier Campbell and Jill Rosen Studio. All top of bed in the university grouping is microfiber and sheets are 100% cotton.
"We wanted to make a really clear presentation for retail," said Chernin. "And we wanted to segregate it from the parents' beds."
Following the lead of Lucky Brands and some other apparel companies, WestPoint packaging will now call out products that have been assembled in the U.S. "Cut & sewn in the U.S. Filled and quilted in the U.S.," said Savaria. "Why miss the opportunity?"

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