• Cecile Corral

Ashford Ct. preps open kiddie lines

Ashford Court is prepping introductions of up to 18 bedding collections for newborns, infants and juveniles under its open line namesake label.

A soft launch is slated for the NYC mini-market next month, with the official introduction scheduled for the New York Home Textiles Market in March/April, according to Michael Day, partner.

The effort won't be entirely unfamiliar to the multi-category supplier. For the past eight months the company has been producing private label lines of infant and juvenile bedding for several major accounts representing a range of retail channels — from mass merchants and warehouse clubs to furniture chains and high-end department stores.

"There has been a real lack of good juvenile bedding, especially for boys, in the marketplace," Day explained. "Girls' lines always sell well, but boys are tougher. There's just not as much variety of good looking product. So that's why we decided to get into the category, and so far it's been a hit."

Imported entirely from India and China, Ashford Court's new children's bedding lines begin at the newborn stage, for which the firm is creating a line of bassinet bedding sets. For the launch, the company will introduce two unisex collections — ABCs and Stars. Each set comprises three pieces: a cotton sheet, a flannel bumper and a flannel blanket.

The infant and juvenile lines are both available in eight collections. Both lines are made up of four looks for girls, two for boys and two that are unisex.

Each infant and juvenile bedding collection is available as a set. The infant collections come as five-piece sets — two sheets, a bed skirt, bumper and quilt/blanket. The juvenile collections are available in two sizes — twin and full. The twin sets come in two types of bed-in-a-bag sets: top-of-bed sets have four pieces — a bed skirt, a standard pillowcase, a Euro sham and a duvet cover, quilt or comforter; and a seven-piece set that contains the top-of-bed items plus a fitted sheet, a flat sheet and a standard pillow case.

The two bed-in-a-bag full size sets are similar to the twin, except those that include sheeting, come with two standard pillow cases, instead of just one.

"We've found that full sizes sell at an equal ratio as twin sets, so we're making both," Day said.

In order to offer customers a fully coordinated bedroom package, the supplier is also producing coordinates with each bedding collection. They include window treatments and at least three decorative pillows per collection. Also, some of the quilts are made with small sewn-in hooks so they can double as decorative wall hangings.

Constructions for the infant and juvenile collections include a broad variety of textures — flannel, tufted chenille, fleece, cotton, cotton velvet and pique, among others. Handiwork has also been, including quilting, embroidery and appliqué techniques.

Multiple construction styles has allowed Ashford Court to be creative in its designs. For the infant line, one example is Country Boy, a patchwork design that incorporates denim, plaid and chambray; another is Pretty in Pink, a pink and white pique and gingham style; and a unisex offering is Dream Collection, featuring an all-cotton background with cotton velvet celestial appliqués.

For the juvenile line, an example of a boy pattern is Sports, a denim and chambray background featuring fleece appliqué inserts of footballs, baseballs, basketballs and others; one girl pattern is Rose Block Quilt, a pink, white and pink-and-white gingham embroidered look; and a unisex design is Crazy Quilt, a multi-colored style featuring quilting, stripes and primary colorways in all-cotton constructions.

Just as Ashford Court has produced private label children's bedding for all levels of retail, it will continue that same initiative with its new open line. Suggested retail price points for sets are $69 to $129 for newborn; $99 to $199 for infant; and $69 to $99 for juvenile. Each product is also available separately packaged.

Retail price points for sheets are $8.99 for bassinet and $9.99 for infant. For the juvenile line, price points for separate sheets have not yet been set, but will range from $39.99 to $99.99 for quilts, comforters and duvet covers.

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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