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Jennifer Marks

New Direction

THERE WERE NO GREAT LEAPS forward in design trends during last month's New York Home Textiles Market, but the trade demonstrated a heartening degree of progress on the innovation front.

The items that were truly “new” at Market employed new fibers or new technologies. Most of them were shown not by new-kid-on-the-block companies — which are becoming legion along Fifth Avenue — but by established players in the industry.

WestPoint Home's basic bedding division kicked innovation into high gear in a line of sleep pillows with tabs that when pressed can turn the nightstand lamp or the bedroom television on and off. The bath division used the same technology in a shower curtains. A line of toss pillows allows the consumer to insert a photograph into a clear sleeve on the face of the pillow, then record a brief message that will emanate from the pillow when it is pressed.

WestPoint's bath division applied the same technology to shower curtains. One of them depicts the solar system. Touch a planet and it illuminates. As it does so, a small speaker on the curtain announces the name of the planet and a factoid about the orb.

HomeSource International also offered a nifty innovation. Nanotex bedding uses nanotechnology to create fabric with a soft hand that is also impervious to staining. Liquid beads and rolls off and ground-in dirt releases from the fibers in the washing machine. HomeSource used a similar technology to create a shower curtain that requires no liner.

Springs applied nanotechnology to a towel, creating an absorbent, high-loft bath sheet that is not processed through the common witches brew of chemicals. Springs also debuted a cotton and rayon towel infused with squaline — a chemical from the cosmetics trade — which leaves a light layer of moisture on the skin.

Welspun USA went to town on the fiber front, introducing sheets and towels with a variety of new constructions: an anti-bacterial combination of silver and fine combed cotton; an anti-bacterial combination of HygroCotton, bamboo and silver; an anti-oxidant combination of soy fiber and cotton; a skin-rejuvenating blend of seaweed and cotton; and a pillowy blending of milk fiber and cotton.

Bardwil Linens created a unique selling point its Lenox-branded Mansfield Crest towel by spinning a fiber out of porcelain and adding it to a construction of bamboo and low-twist cotton.

In foam bedding, both Sleep Innovations and Louisville Bedding brought out “cool” foams to address the perception that foam makers sleepers hot and sweaty.

Yes, Virginia, old dogs can perform new tricks. It's a fair bet we're going to see even more innovation in the next round of new production introductions. With any luck, some of these great new ideas will even make their way into stores.

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