• Cecile Corral

Karastan adds 'area' to Ralph Lauren rugs

ATLANTA -Karastan, the upscale division of Mohawk Rug & Textiles, based here, has added a new line of area rugs under its designer license Ralph Lauren Home.

The new line, introduced at the Atlanta International Area Rug Market, comes six months after Karastan launched its line of Ralph Lauren broadloom rugs at high-end department and specialty stores.

"Ralph Lauren wanted to create rugs he would use himself in his own homes," said Anne Carley, director of rug products and marketing for Karastan. "That's what this line shows."

The collection is "not specific to lifestyle nor construction," Carley said. "The hope is that they have universal appeal and go with one another."

The initial introduction features 30 pieces that are inspired by Ralph Lauren's thoroughbred, Santa Fe/ Southwest, safari and modernist styles-all of which are well recognized in the designer's other categories, including pret-a-porte, bedding and furniture.

"The collection was made to revolve around the hallmark look of Ralph Lauren," Carley said.

By the end of 2001, the hope is to add 10 more area rugs to the collection, as well as a new design.

"Florals and paisleys is the next wave we intend to introduce later this year," Carley said.

The construction of the rugs is broad, "what we think is an unusually large scope for a designer to introduce in a collection," Carley said. About 95 percent of the collection is handmade.

The hand-knotted pieces are being antiqued and distressed "to give them the look that they've been in an old manor house for more than 100 years," Carley said.

The tufted pieces are made in China and India.

The soumak flatweave rugs, also made in China, imitate the original soumak that comes from Persia.

Several pieces are made from natural fibers-sisal and coir. These rugs feature proprietary borders in denim, chino-type canvas and leather skins-distressed, natural and dyed. "For the leather borders, we are taking the hides and doing all the stripping ourselves specifically for this program," Carley said.

And expanding on its broadloom offerings for the existing carpet program, Karastan is creating a bordered rug program stemming from the Architect's Loft broadloom style.

"We are targeting a specific retail market with this collection," Carley said. "The better department stores, better specialty rug and furniture stores and the Expo design centers."

Price points for a 6' x 9' range from $399 for a flatweave (minimum advertised price) to $1,999 for an antiqued, distressed hand-knotted rug. All the rugs in the collection include the traditional Ralph Lauren blue silk label with camel-colored stitching.

"It has been very well received [by retailers]," said Carley, who gave back-to-back presentations of the new line to the dozens of vendors who stopped by Karastan's 3rd floor showroom at the Atlanta market.

"I think overall it was liked very much," Carley added. "We had quite a scope of retailers visiting us over the two days [in Atlanta], so we were happy that everyone found something they liked."

Cecile CorralCecile Corral | Senior Product Editor, Home & Textiles Today

Cecile B. Corral has been a product editor with Home Textiles Today since late 2000. She covers the area and accent rug, kitchen textiles, table linens, beach towels, decorative bath and decorative pillow categories, as well as some retail subjects.

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