Uncharted territory

Carole Sloan, February 11, 2002

There's something exciting happening in this teeny world of home textiles. There's a breath of freshness, exuberance and a sense of splitting away from the sameness in product look that has been pervasive for too many seasons.

We saw a bit of it last season, as companies like Croscill and Veratex moved beyond what could be called their signature looks. We saw it as CHF took kids way away from the realm of licensed product and expanded the item reach with new and exciting accessories that were not just conventional bed coverings and bath products. And WestPoint Stevens brought a fresh excitement to market with the Designers Guild Collection finally in format for the American market — but not diluting Trisha Guild's design and color statements.

And now last week, there were two very exciting "beyond the norm" programs introduced at winter market. "Out of the box" will not be used in this space.

One was the Susan Sargent collection of bed, bath, rugs — and yes, fabrics by the yard — for adults, teens and tweens and infants and quilt fabrics for crafts at Springs. Just that sentence should convey the breadth of what Springs put behind the Sargent launch.

With a remarkable fidelity to the designer and colorist's signature, Springs offered a breadth of product that was something this market has long needed.

The other excitement came from Revman's launch of apparel designer Nicole Miller's bed, bath, accessories, storage and closet items — again in designs tailored to a young adult community, and another tailored to teens and tweens.

And a very simple, no-brainer came from Revman as well, with a Laura Ashley brand extension of flowers and wall art.

The biggest stumbling blocks to all of these programs is how to get them past the retailers to the consumers.

One could easily see the turf battles unfolding from last season's intros as the kids buyer declared war on the bedding buyer for the kids stuff, or as the storage and closet shop buyer refused to give ground to the home textiles buyer for the brand extensions. And perish the thought that even in the big boxes, the bed and bath department could market the Laura Ashley flowers rather than the gifty, nifty flower department.

It's time that the senior people at the retail and supply side understand that consumers just don't understand turf. They just want to buy stuff where it makes sense.

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See the May 2017 issue of Home & Textiles Today. In this issue, we discuss our annual Market Basket survey, which finds higher prices and more polyester at leading retailers. See details!