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WPS Gets Charisma

West Point, Ga. — The licensing of Charisma to WestPoint Stevens settles the fate of the fourth and final of Pillowtex’s fashion brands in the wake of the latter mill’s 2003 liquidation.

Charisma was the smallest of the four, with mill shipments estimated at roughly $76 million in 2002, the last full year of business. (For more about the other brands, see Pillowtex story, far right.)

However, Charisma was a luxury linchpin in many department store domestic assortments and served as the top-of-the-line offering in many catalogs as well.

WestPoint appears to have ambitions for the reincarnated Charisma beyond the brand’s historical concentration on the sheeting and towel businesses. WestPoint will offer the Charisma Home brand in fashion bedding, bath and bath accessories, decorative pillows and a range of basic bedding that includes blankets, throws, down and down-alternative products.

Charisma will begin shipping in late 2005 — in multiple product categories, according to Judi Alexander, who last week was named vice president — Charisma Home, a new division at the company. She was previously vice president, basic bedding. Before joining the company eight years ago, she was part of the original launch team for Calvin Klein Home in 1995.

“As we continue to see the whole bedding and bath market trading up in constructions and design, Charisma is ideal to be positioned as a ‘best in class’ line, with super-premium product and price points,” she said.

Basic bedding division President Art Birkins noted that higher-end basic bedding has surged over the past few years. “There’s a solid trend toward building a better bed that starts with pads and pillows, and consumers look for higher thread counts and upscale fabrics and constructions. Charisma offers a great opportunity to meet these demands.”

Distribution will be restricted to select department stores and upscale catalogs, the company said, which suggests Charisma may inhabit fewer doors than it did during the Pillowtex era. However, the broader product range points toward the possibility of Charisma concept shops — an idea Pillowtex tested but did not have the wherewithal to pursue during its waning months.

WestPoint will explore the possibility of creating a new Charisma Home logo in cooperation with brand management company Earthbound LLC and the brand’s owner, Official Pillowtex LLC, the consortium of business that bought the former mill’s assets in fall 2003.

In taking Charisma forward, said Bob Dale, president of bed and bath, “We will stay true to the brand’s unique concept of properties while enhancing its position as the aspirational brand for discriminating consumers whose lifestyle embraces real luxury.”

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