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Lighter tones seep into top spots

BCST Staff -- Home Textiles Today, February 10, 2003

Softer colors have long held an edge when it comes to covering the bed and windows or in the shower. But after several years of deeper, jewel tones dominating decorative pillows, bath rugs, kitchen textiles and table linens, those same softer colors last year began rising to the top in those categories.

Those were among the key findings in Home Textiles Today's Annual Best-Selling Colors Report. For the most part, the survey was evenly divided between new color leaders and hues that continued to hold the top spot from 2001. In several cases, the ranks were merely shuffled, but in many categories new colors were injected into the mix.

Brentwood Originals' Chenille decorative pillow line was among those that were reshuffled. Cactus ascended to the top spot, while indigo dropped to No. 4. Mulberry, taupe and natural, respectively, made up the rest of the top five.

"I do feel that deeper shades are descending and lighter to mid-tones are ascending," said Loren Sweet, president of the Carson, CA-based company.

Bob Lieberman, vp and general manager of Sugar Valley, GA-based Mohawk Home's bath products division, said, "The market is moving away from deep shades. It is galloping away from the navies, burgundies and hunters to the middle tones."

"But," he continued, "it's all cyclical."

Royal Velvet table linens by Bardwil, New York, saw a new No. 1, sultan (a.k.a. burgundy), but the mid-ranks were taken up by ivory, white and peridot, two decidedly softer shades followed by a mid-range color.

In kitchen textiles, green remained No. 1, but natural, smoke blue and taupe made up the mid-ranks there.

"We are seeing sales continue in the darker colors — the peridot greens [and] navy," said Nancy Kristoff, president of sales and marketing for Bardwil. "Barn reds are still very important."

Solids remain the driving force behind these four segments of the home textiles universe.

Chip Steidle, vp of sales and marketing for The John Ritzenthaler Co., based in West Conshohocken, PA, said, "From what we are told by the retailers we do business with, the solid-color portion of the kitchen business still is the dominant portion of the volume and drives the other portions."

On the decorative fabrics side, supplied by Waverly's Kensington Coral, 2001's No. 4 became 2002's No. 1, supplanting jute, which dropped to No. 3. "I see greens as really coming up," said Pam Maffei-Toolan, vp of design for Waverly, New York. "We're using pistachios and sages as a background blotch color in a lot of our new collections." She added that that combination of greens also had a tropical feeling, as well as Asian overtones, two trends currently riding a wave of popularity.

Covering up the windows are Teaneck, NJ-based S. Lichtenberg's Danielle program, Croscill Home's Parfait program and Springs Industries' Safari program. Croscill's best-sellers for 2002 were more skewed toward neutrals, while Lichtenberg's and Springs' were more saturated.

"Gold is the story as far as windows are concerned," said Cheryl Johnson, vp of window design for New York's Croscill, of the No. 2 best-seller. "Gold has become the new neutral. It's not a brassy color. It's very subtle and very soft."

Springs Industries' Nancy Webster, senior vp of creative development of the Fort Mill, SC-based mill, said golds are taking a very mellow approach but are still "very sophisticated. They're almost like a new beige."

For the most part, Kannapolis, NC-based Pillowtex's 2002 best-sellers were the same as 2001, only rearranged. Gretchen Dale, senior vp of design and new product development, noted that for mass market programs colors always tend to be more saturated than their upper-tier cousins, which include saturated colors, but are dominated by the pristine whites and ivories of the rainbow.

In the near-future, Dale forecast the declining influence of "smoky" or "dusty" colors and the emergence of "truer" ones. "For us, you're going to see colors become clearer, a lot cleaner and even more saturated," she added.

Webster said the ranks for the 250-count Egyptian cotton sheet line were true to form, as white and ivory continue to lead the pack, with softer tones in the Nos. 3 and 4 spots. Ming red brought up the rear.

"We saw red beginning to surface last year," Webster said. She pointed out how it easily lends itself to Asian themes as well as its strong ties to decorating. Webster forecast that the blue family will be the next big family in color, especially navy blue at the mass level, owing to the still very prevalent patriotic themes favored by consumers as well as its more dramatic flavor.

"Consumers are seeing very dramatic tones and a lot of color now," Webster said. "It's really a lot of color value for the money."

1 Replaces Cannon by Pillowtex
2 Ranking is for Tangiers
Bath rugs
Mohawk Home
RANK '02 '01 '00
1 navy navy hunter
2 amethyst burgundy burgundy
3 hunter hunter navy
4 plum plum aubergine
5 peridot blue moon loden
Blankets
Martex Vellux by WestPoint Stevens
RANK '02 '01 '00
1 ivory ivory white
2 navy navy natural
3 china blue china blue cypress
4 sage green green mist denim
5 burgundy burgundy linen
Comforters
Jubliee reversible1 by Springs Industries
RANK '02 '01 '00
1 navy/red NA NA
2 denim/denim NA NA
3 hunter green/khaki NA NA
4 light purple/dark purple NA NA
5 black/khaki NA NA
Decorative Fabrics
Kensington Coral by Waverly
RANK '02 '01 '00
1 pistachio jute ruby
2 primrose primrose primrose
3 jute rose pistachio
4 ruby pistachio jute
5 sage sage lilac
Decorative Pillows
Chenille by Brentwood Originals
RANK '02 '01 '00
1 cactus indigo indigo
2 mulberry taupe natural
3 taupe cactus mulberry
4 indigo natural taupe
5 natural mulberry eggplant
Draperies
Safari by Springs Industries
RANK '02 '01 '00
1 nubuck (light beige) antelope antelope
2 antelope (dark beige) nubuck nubuck
3 java (brown) ink black moss
4 ink black moss ink black
5 garnet (burgundy) pine pine
Draperies — Chintz
Mass market
Danielle by S. Lichtenberg
RANK '02 '01 '002
1 wedgewood black white
2 sage hunter/navy eggshell
3 navy wedgewood burgundy
4 white burgundy black
5 butter/hunter white forest
Draperies — Chintz
Parfait by Croscill
RANK '02 '01 '00
1 linen bronze champagne
2 gold champagne linen
3 bronze linen amethyst
4 sage celadon sage
5 burgundy white burgundy
Duvet covers
Boulevard by High Country Linens
RANK '02 '01 '00
1 navy navy white
2 white white ecru
3 ecru burgundy hunter
4 burgundy ecru navy
5 light blue light blue light blue
Kitchen textiles
Ritzenthaler by The John Ritzenthaler Co.
RANK '02 '01 '00
1 green green green
2 natural smoke blue natural
3 smoke blue natural white
4 taupe white smoke blue
5 black taupe taupe
Sheets
Mass market
Classic by Cannon
RANK '02 '01 '00
1 indigo white indigo
2 white indigo white
3 black black strawberry wine
4 denim blue vanilla cream light blue
5 vanilla cream denim blue black
Sheets
Wamsutta Egyptian Cotton by Springs Industries
RANK '02 '01 '00
1 lily (white) lily white
2 candleglow (ivory) ivory ivory
3 landscape (light green) light blue medium blue
4 windstream (light blue) denim navy medium green
5 ming red green yellow
Table linens
Royal Velvet by Bardwil
RANK '02 '01 '00
1 sultan (burgundy) ivory ivory
2 ivory indigo indigo
3 white sultan cypress
4 peridot cypress sultan
5 cypress white peridot
Towels
Mass market
Cannon Classic by Pillowtex
RANK '02 '01 '00
1 porcelain blue porcelain blue porcelain blue
2 french rose blue velvet blue velvet
3 white french rose evergreen
4 evergreen evergreen garnet
5 yellow mist white yellow mist
Towels
Royal Velvet Classic by Pillowtex
RANK '02 '01 '00
1 white white white
2 linen ivory ivory
3 ivory green mist smoke
4 peridot linen linen
5 green mist smoke greet mist


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