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Hand-picking the winners from spring market

At the spring home textiles market, retail buyers were exposed to a wider array of new looks and designs than in previous markets as more manufacturers look to differentiate through new product. The following comments provide a glimpse of those designs that caught the attention of buyers from across several channels.

Anna's Linens

Kevin Mclain, gmm

Bath Shop: "Ex-Cell looked very good. Lots of new coordinates. Saturday Knight looked exceptionally good as well. Their innovation and style were very good. Springs looked very good in the bath. The best they've looked in a while. Trident Mills' jacquards and embellished towels looked very good. Venus Home and their embellished towels looked very good and are a great value. Revere Mills also looked very good with their Super Soft towels as well as their dobby jacquards."

Pillows, Pads, Blankets and Throws: "Perfect Fit's electric matelasse bedspreads were very innovative and new for the industry. The down in a bag from California Feather Company was innovative and is a great promotional item for retailers. Sleep Innovations with their tri-channel line looked very good. Very unique."

Window Coverings: "Lichtenberg looked very good. They had more newness there than they've had in a long time. And Tex-Style also looked very good. Lots of organza and embellished looks."

Bloomingdale's

Lester Gribetz, vp, home fashion direction

Bedding: "Anglesey was very strong at Ralph Lauren Home, and the line was very good in general. The pillows and shawls were very exciting. And the blue collection and Madras duvets were really strong.

"Calvin Klein was very Calvin. I like the newness of mix and match at Donna Karan."

Brylane Home

Charlie Pellenberg, vp

Bedding: "We don't buy off the shelf, but in general the Susan Sargent Collection at Springs was strong and the colors were great. The Tommy Bahama look continues. But all the embellished luxury looks are not for mass market."

Domestications

Jim Whitehead, vp, merchandising

Bedding: "Martex's X-Static sheet, with silver threads running through it, had an iridescent look that I liked. Also, Veratex and Pillowtex, in the Royal Velvet line, had organza products that slip over pillows, and we liked that idea. Veratex's line looked good overall."

Decorative Pillows: "Whether it was table linens, quilts or decorative pillows, Fashion Industries had great fashionable looks. They covered all of their bases and had nice updated tropical looks, as well as florals for spring."

Window Coverings: "Litchenberg had some great stuff. CHF looked good; they had nice window. Cadillac Oxford is small, but they had a good line as well."

Expo Design Center

Alan Holland, global product manager

Window Coverings: "The newest direction in windows was the increase in variety of velvets — all weights and fabrications especially from Croscill, Brentwood and FR Industries."

"CHF also went back to the Austrian curtain look, and Veratex offered different looks in top treatments."

Gottschalks

Lisa Kesterke, buyer, bath, rugs and decorative pillows

Bath Shop: "What I saw that was best for my assortment was the Lumiere program from Regal — it's a gradiated towel between a solid and jacquard. I also saw some micro-cottons that are really, really soft from a variety of towel suppliers. That's the trend I'm seeing a lot now."

Decorative Pillows: "The thing right now is velvet and beads. Everyone is out there slugging it out over price to get the business because that's the big thing for holiday. Of the companies we saw — Brentwood, Spencer industries, Arlee and Newport — we're still waiting to see who we go with."

Kmart

Rob Atteberry, divisional vp, home fashions

Bath Shop: "The way the Disney program is developing at WestPoint Stevens takes it a step further in bath as well as bed and is moving a step further with quilts. We see it beyond just a juvenile age group."

Bedding/Decorative Pillows:

"Since Kmart does not buy off the shelf, overall I was excited to see embellishments in decorative pillows and bedding. I like the way colors are popping and there's more ready-to-wear applications — denim, chino, toile."

Laytner's Linens

Monica Guerrero, buyer

Bath Shop: "Ginsey is doing a great job. They had fun toilet toppers, and their new toilet seats are sensational and well priced."

Bedding: "Wamsutta looked fresh, and the new Susan Sargent license added a lot of color to the line. Veratex had an amazing showroom, everything from top-of-the-bed, with all of its trims. Those beds were worth sleeping in. I also saw some great juvenile prints. The market is heading toward better juvenile prints with higher thread counts."

Luxury Linens

Gaellyn Ridler, buyer, fashion bedding

Bedding: "Croscill, Pacific Designs and Veratex all had nice creative bedding ensembles."

Becky Shook, buyer, window treatments and decorative pillows

Decorative Pillows: "Fashion Pillow and Newport Layton probably had the strongest lines. Pacific Designs had the most expanded line with nice designs and good coloration."

Window Coverings: "CHF had a very nice line. Their Peri line was very nicely executed. Regal Home had a very updated line. They're doing some updated solids and have some good value. Park Smith's Baroque Bands and Rococco lines were nicely priced. Croscill had some nice prices and good retails. The Lavish and the British Isle were good looking styles. Lichtenberg had some very good value-priced items. Sonoma was a nicely priced rod pocket and drape."

Macy's West

Paul Fitzpatrick, executive vp, home

Bedding: "Tommy Bahama was very exciting. We're the only ones doing the whole thing — men's, women's, accessories, shoes, as well as furniture and home textiles. I want their beds on my home textiles floor.

"Tommy Hilfiger's basic bedding was incredible, especially in the detailing. "We'll do very well with it.

The Charisma Select silk/cotton comforter was a standout.

"I felt much better about Ralph Lauren Home with a return to textile bedding accessories in a big way. There was lots of design and well priced for pillows at $100. It's signature opulent look has returned. And it's more affordable with the sourcing changes.

"Echo was dramatic, especially in the persimmon bed.

"DKNY looked terrific, and Urban Gypsy, with lots of embroidery, will give us entrée to a younger customer."

Table Linens: "The new Calvin Klein table linens collection looks terrific, and we're going to launch it in August. It just makes the dinnerware work so much better."

Pioneer Linens

Barry Wasserman, buyer

Bedding: "I loved Tommy Bahama — it was a wonderful line and look. We've been doing imitations for the last two years and now we'll have the real McCoy. I also loved La Fenice, Miami, who is repping several lines from Italy, like Bossi, Tribuzio and Timas. It was beautiful product that was not crazy with prices. Home Treasures had a wonderful line, including the Frenze and Blooms collections. They can also make custom items if you need something special, like a 15.5- or 21-inch bed skirt. John Matouk's colors were great, and its updated basic blanket looked really good. Its new poly/cotton sheet from Italy was fabulous. Yves Delorme also had great updated looks. Everything looked great at Veratex — bath shop, bedding."

Linda Griffiths, buyer

Bath Shop: "The big thing was Tommy Bahama; we'll go heavy into that. Labrazel had great introductions, including a ceramic bath accessories group with an Oriental design, and a fabulous updated crystal and gold line. Its new alabasters were also outstanding. Both the new colors and introductions at Habidecor and Steven Drew looked great. It was also nice to see more high-end people at Javits, like Timas and Yaserom. Anali had nice tropical looks, including one with a palm frond. At the lower end, Vohann had a lot of nice tropical looks. Hamberg House and Regal Rugs were two others with great tropical products."

Proffitt's/McRae's

Bruce Morel, divisional vp, dmm, soft home

Bath Shop: "In bath accessories, Croscill was really strong. Carl [Legreca] does a great job. In particular, they had a crackle glass collection that was very good looking."

Decorative Pillows: "Brentwood did a good job; they had great new constructions like a box pillow that was nice. Their pricing fits into the mainstream as well. Natco had some interesting pillows that looked expensive, with tassels, bows and buttons, but were priced very well."

Pillows, Pads, Blankets and Throws: "The strongest concept we saw was the down blanket, the next step in the down comforter category. We saw a flavor of the down blanket everywhere, ranging in retails from $79 to $99."

Rugs: "Natco had a strong presence in rugs this market. They've had a great progression of good, better, best programs recently. Fashion Industries also had a nice line, with seagrass, jute and other looks. It was Pottery Barn without the prices."

Window Coverings: "Croscill's window always looks good; their top treatments grab you. Beacon's line was also good — they had nice printed sheers. They're a surprising resource for a department store, since they're considered more for the mass merchants."

Sears

Maria Glazzon, buyer, window coverings

Window Coverings: "The romantic, vintage embroidered look was strong from CHF to Lichtenberg to Regal. There were more pretty looks than ever, and embroideries were prevalent on taffetas, voiles, textured ground and silk.

"Icy, silvery colors were new, and soft rose and blush were important."

Stein Mart

Pat Stagner, gmm, home

Rugs: "Trade Am was phenomenal in rugs. They had great casual looks and wonderful updated colors."

Table Linens and Kitchen Textiles: "Ashford Court and Newport/Layton were terrific. Both had great fabrications and embellishments.

"In table linens there were fun and fresh things in mats at Avon.

"Overall, there was a lot more color — brighter color and lots of bells and whistles creating opulence. WestPoint Stevens and Fieldcrest looked good in design."

Strouds

Donna Aidekman, vp, merchandising, full-line stores

Bedding: "Raymond Waites had a fabulous showroom. Tommy Bahama from Sferra was also an exciting line. Nautica looked good — they had more salable goods than you could put your arms around."

The Linen Store

Thom D'Addario, general manager

Bedding: "We're a high-end store, and we thought the Tommy Bahama launch from Sferra was very good. Columbine Cody also introduced several new imported, high-count sheeting that had a soft hand and were priced well. They also had lovely matelasses, which are still strong down here. Ann Gish had a wonderful bed in a tic tac toe pattern. I was pleasantly surprised with 100% Pure/Custom Comfort. Bellino has become one of my favorite vendors, and had a sateen sheet that we liked. At Croscill, they always have nice things, and we'll do some of their bedding patterns along with the coordinating window."

Value City

Dale Hughes, buyer, bedding

Pillows, Pads, Blankets and Throws: "I really liked the new corn fiber at Pacific Coast Feather."

Bedding: "What was also neat was Beatrice Home Fashions' pattern called Hydrangea in black — that looked good."

Wal-Mart

Dick Fish, vp, dmm, domestics

Bath Shop: "Bath overall looked good. Everyone's trying different types of towels — ones that are bigger, heavier, zero twist. There was a lot of pima cotton, which is pretty significant for our market. Santens had a fabulous towel presentation."

Bedding: "What was interesting to see was the emphasis on the tweener market, and I think licensed juvenile will have a huge back half of the year. Overall, everyone stepped up on color, introducing different types of colors. The customer is willing to try colors other than the traditional ones."

Window Coverings: "Treatments such as sheers and crushed voile are just exploding for us. The more we get, the better."

Younkers

Amy Webster, buyer

Decorative Pillows: "Brentwood always has up-and-coming new things at great price points and new constructions in both decorative pillows and throws."

Pillows, Pads, Blankets and Throws: "The biggest thing to jump out at me was Pacific Coast Feather's new fiber made out of corn, called NatureWorks. That was really impressive. And Pillowtex's Tommy Hilfiger basic bedding launch also looked really good."

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