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Pillowtex dresses up Royal Velvet

New York — The revamped Pillowtex Corporation unveiled its new April market introductions last week with a focus on refreshing the image of its Royal Velvet bedding, and stressed its great strides in tightening its turnaround time.

The Kannapolis, NC-based major mill said its new goal for turnaround time is 25 to 30 days vs. the 120 days that previously typified its response. In fact, some of the new Royal Velvet branded beds have already been placed. One will ship just prior to market, and one Charisma bed will ship by the beginning of April.

The open Cannon line will not be seen on the showroom floor this market, as the company places the retooled Royal Velvet in the spotlight. Instead, the Cannon brand will be relaunched this fall with a new marketing philosophy behind it. According to Gretchen Dale, senior vp of design and new product development, the Cannon brand "has no identity anymore. It's our No. 1 recognized consumer brand, and we'd like to relaunch it — but not just for the mass market."

The highly anticipated Charisma prototype shops promised last market will also be unveiled soon. Eight stores will have the shops by the second half of 2002, while Pillowtex will display a prototype within its own showroom at 1270 6th Ave. during the April market.

For all its various lines, Dale said, "This is a very different market for us in terms of how beds look. We really have some different looks this time around."

Undergoing the most extensive change is the Royal Velvet line. Dale said that after wrestling with the question of which company the line should emulate, the decision was made to blaze a new trail and follow nothing but their own design sense.

"We've created a whole different bedding system here," Dale said. "There's lots of unexpected combinations of looks and fabrics."

Leading off is the Zen Blue bed, which features complex stria textures in various shades of blue, crushed rayon-acetate euro shams and bedskirts and a chartreuse silk cord pillow.

An iridescent "pillowslip" is also offered as part of this ensemble, as well as many of the others. All of the new ensembles will also feature the pillowslip as a component, giving the line continuity and a common link.

An elegant, traditional woven damask is on the face of Lyon. A silk cord decorative pillow with a tarnished gold braid is also offered for this bed.

Dramatic heraldic motifs in multiple golds and black make up Castlewick, which is done in woven chenille. A finely woven gingham chenille makes up the European and decorative pillows.

For Chenille Check, burnished metal colors throughout the ensemble are offset by a woven dot on the Euro sham and decorative pillow. Completing the look is a cuffed flat sheet. Coordinating shams feature a woven stria in rayon-acetate.

The woven jacquard Kinetic has an abstract geometric pattern of refined curves and circles in bronze, red and purple with black outlining.

Like Castlewick, Umbria also features a woven cotton chenille, but in contrasting sunset colors for its decorative pillows. The texture is interpreted for the coordinating sheets and comforter reverse.

Quatro is a complex, square-based plaid with a taffeta look for top-of-bed and a large painted floral for the sheet.

Using a Southwestern American Indian flavor is Aztec, with a warm brown, terra cotta gold and green palette. Black leather is paired with faux suede for the decorative pillows and euro shams.

Primavera perhaps takes the furthest route away from Pillowtex tradition with its persimmon, pink and orange-based floral print on velvet. The decorative pillows use a marmalade color with an artichoke braid.

And keeping pace with the tropical trend now making its way through the textiles world is Tropicale. Brown and black contrast with persimmon and sage with chenille gold accents while an all-over hibiscus pattern adorns the sheet and comforter reverse.

All of the new RV introductions will be offered at a $279 retail price point for a bagged queen ensemble.

For its Fieldcrest line of branded sheets, Dale said a new 300-count line of Micro-denier sheeting joins the assortment. Made from a blend of 60/40 cotton/polyester micro-denier yarn, this "slightly edgier" palette contains white, indigo, mocha, Tucson, carmine, bay leaf, mulberry and powder blue.

The Charisma line will be augmented with a faux suede ensemble and lightly quilted coverlet, while the sheeting will range from 320- to 360- to 410-count. The Charisma towel will be offered with some modifications, including a bigger size and a different yarn system designed to give the towel a plush feeling.

For its luxury Court of Versailles line, three beds will be unveiled this month, but the fall market will see a complete relaunch of the sub-brand with greater sensitivity to the program's price point structure.

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