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Top looks span wide range of product

They came. They saw. They liked.

How much will they buy? That remains to be seen.

In the meantime, HTT polled retailers from several channels — department stores, catalogers, mid-tier chains, discounters and boutiques — to learn what stuck with them after they went home from the recent New York Home Textiles Show and marketplace.

As it turned out, they were impressed by a variety of things. From fine linens to workaday goods, their picks were as follows.

Anna's Linens

Kevin McLain, vp, merchandising

Bedding: "Pillowtex's Royal Velvet special-order kiosk was innovative and creative. Perfect Fit's low-voltage automatic blanket was expensive, but it eliminated the risk. Springs brought excitement to the expanded Burlington bedding program. "

Pillows Pads: "Sleep Innovations was strong with product innovation, packaging and marketing plans. Carpenter's poly pillow with a down feel was strong."

Bath: "Lichtenberg's debut into shower curtains was very impressive. Ex-Cell's new vinyl with a better drape and no powder for the shower curtain was important."

Bloomingdale's

Lester Gribetz, vp, home fashion direction

Bedding: "Joseph Abboud at Divatex was very well done, as was Royal Sateen with the interesting plays of colors and wovens. Ralph Lauren Home always has been strong; it was a knockout. The new collection brings them into the bridge area. It's affordable and extremely meaningful — a new base.

Table Linens: "W-C's introductions of Waterford table linens was very strong in a variety of patterns and colors."

Burdine's

Luis Sandoval, area rug buyer

Rugs: "Actually, we skipped both the New York City and the High Point market. For area rugs, we're focusing our attention on Atlanta. But I have been getting photographs and documentation from a number of the suppliers, and to tell you the truth I don't see anything dramatic, anything that I really need to do. The only significant addition that we've made to our collection of area rugs is Tommy Bahama from Shaw, which hit the floor two weeks ago, and we're really excited about that. It really fits in with the whole Florida lifestyle. And now we're seeing lots of palm trees out there."

Direct Marketing Services Inc.

Steve Hujar, vp

Bedding: "Ellison was significant in its upgrading of the line, which was good. We liked WestPoint Stevens' new Disney product, and Dan River's new jacquards at $99 and $149 were strong. The good news was the wide range of new product. Animal prints are gone, but Tommy Bahama looks are important."

Ed's Linens

Ed Rothman, president

Bedding: "I was impressed by a number of things; there was quite a lot of product available. In bedding, I saw a lot of glitter, and patterns had an almost East Indian influence. Colors were brighter and primary, as opposed to soft and subdued, and there was a lot of embroidery. I liked what American Pacific was doing with dupioni silk, with embroidery on it; that was nice. And in general, Croscill had a nice collection of bedding."

Fred's Inc.

Cynthia Holmes, buyer

Bed and Bath: "Grupo had some different quilted looks for the bathroom and inexpensive bed-in-a-bags that fit our criteria. Nothing displeased me, and there was nothing that just blew me away. The thing that Springs did for that whole Burlington for the home impressed me."

JCPenney

Steve Castella, senior product development manager for window and luggage

Window: "I thought some of the best viewings were at CHF and Kensington. Lichtenberg had some good items. I saw a lot of luxury. And more specificly, there was luxury at a price. Lot more embellishments incorporated into the luxury, a lot of vintage. Some really great embroideries, embroidered sheers, embroidered tool. We saw some nice looks at Victoria Classics. Those were the ones that really had some interesting stuff and some really trend-right looks. There was a lot more heavier-weight fabrics this time around. Sheer hasn't gone anywhere, but I think we're starting to get into a period that allows more heavier-weight drapery as well as embellishments for that drapery."

Linen Source

Deborah Flannery, senior buyer

Bedding: "I noticed that a lot of overseas quilt resources that used to work through other companies are now directly importing the product themselves. Modern looks are gaining more of an edge than before, as is color."

Kohl's

Gary Nickolie, Rug buyer

Rugs: "In the rug area, I saw a lot of good color stories, getting away from the basic colors and into brighter, more exciting colors. That was a really major trend, and it was gratifying to see. The red family is strong and a lot of fun with colors like Moroccan red. And the whole tropical color family is good. We're seeing a lot of interesting colors, especially from importers. I particularly liked Import Specialty Products. They had an impressive color story. And this has become really important to us. In the past 60 to 90 days, our business has really shifted away from the basic colors to more interesting color stories. And that's been a surprise to us since we deal with fairly basic goods. Some other interesting things are happening as well. Basic tufted rugs are starting to use space-dyed yarns, which gives a nice effect. And companies like Maples and Georgia Tufters are adding a lot of dimensional looks to print products. That adds a lot of value and tells a great story. In general, I think there was a lot of good product at the market — nothing earth-shaking, nothing that's going to change the market overnight. But a lot of nice evolutionary product, particularly in color stories and the dimensional effects in prints."

Profitt's/McRae's

Bruce Morel, dvp, dmm, soft home

Bedding: "In bedding, Springs had a fabulous showroom, with its lifestyle vignettes. Some of their bed-in-a-bags in the mid-price range were great, like Judith & Selvin. Dan River's Kaleidoscope was great-looking stuff, really fun. A hip college look that wasn't juvenile. Croscill always has fabulous opulent looks, including this market's Arabella. They are also progressing really well in their quilts, and I liked Rethinking Pink. Pem America was the hottest show in town; it was so crowded in there. Their quilt-in-a-bag was spectacular for the price. They were on fire."

Bath: "We're seeing micro cotton everywhere. Venus, one of the smaller players, was really the first out with this type of towel, and they set the benchmark on pricing, sizes, and such. Bianca had great jacquard towels. It was nice to see the Davidson Cotton guys come back with the new company Classic Linens. They had really strong price points with their embellished items, and their $5.99 pima cotton towel is probably the best price on the market."

Window: "Lichtenberg's laces and sheers were outstanding; it's nice that window for department stores still lives on."

Decorative Pillows: "Ashford Court had a nice line. They are in the same vein as Rose Tree, but more affordable, and they will basically make any pillow at a range of prices. I especially liked their equestrian grouping."

Profitt's

Sa'id Samman, buyer, sheeting and bedding

Bedding: "In general, black and gold will be dominant colors for next year. Hollander had one, and GTT. They were both showing a black and gold ensemble that really stuck out. As far as sheeting, quite a few people were pushing cotton/silk constructions, but surprisingly none of the major mills. The high thread count seems to have lost its glamour. The construction content will be the latest thing. Springs had a good showroom. They seemed to be very focused. Their sateen sheets at $179.99 retail looked very strong."

Shannon's Curtain Bed & Bath

Shannon Russing, President

Bed, Bath & Kitchen: "I saw one line that we were not familiar with called Hatley-The Little Blue House that had a group of flannel sheets and duvet covers. And they also had kitchen items and jacquard towels. Veratex's bath line looked wonderful — their bath accessories and shower curtains. They had some different looks in both. Vohann, out of California, had some wonderful embellished towels and matching shower curtains and bath accessories."

The Linen Store

Thom D'Addario, general manager

Bedding: "I did see a few good things. In bedding, Peacock Alley had a very pretty Tulip pattern. In the luxury building, Ann Gish and Anichini's products are always beautiful, as is Yves Delorme. At Croscill, I saw at least six bedding ensembles that I could do big business with, like Trilogy, Portofino, Arabella and Portacall. We do well with Croscill's better, top-of-the-line program. In bath, Croscill's Triumph ceramic accessories were in beautiful colors with gold trim and a classic design that we will do well with. At the Javits, Stitchsations always has wonderful towels, and Labrazel had really interesting bath accessories."

QVC

Greg DeLoia, buyer

Window: "The one thing that I saw that was one of those things that you said to yourself, 'Why didn't I think of that,' was at Park B. Smith. They had that Magic Pleat for window. I thought that was pretty neat. New looks and new styles and new combinations within the Dennis Basso line at Divatex Home Fashions were real nice. From Pacific Coast Feather, a combination of a pillow that was uncrushable and gussetted with an inner core, I thought that was great. I thought that Pillowtex's chenille bed sets were real neat, interesting and priced really well. I thought they did a real good job on that. I thought some of the designs from other countries at Javits were fabulous. And I thought PDK's new showroom looked really great. They had great display beds and they showed a lot of new patterns, real nice. Kind of like they're on a new level from where they used to be."

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