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Live from Atlanta Rug Market, Day 2      

 Atlanta -- Day 2 of the International Area Rug Market and traffic is picking up. Prices remain a focus for most, but so are design and innovation. Cowhide, suede and textured leather are being interwoven with synthetics and wools for multi-media looks. Indoor/outdoor varieties are branching out to include "performance" rugs. And high-end traditional brands are being refreshed for today's young shoppers.

Here are more suppliers making news at the market:

-- Capel Inc. debuted its first machine-made Wilton-woven collection from China -- Classic Chobi -- a grouping of reproduction Chobis at a fraction of the price of the real thing. The initial offering includes two patterns, Mahal and Oushak.

Other economy-sensitive collections include the recycled leather strap collection Lariat and the braided rectangular stripe Metropolitan.

But Capel is still giving attention to its high-end business, which includes the licensed Biltmore Estate collection. For the first time since signing with the brand about two years ago, Capel has created replicas of antique rugs from the Biltmore Estate -- Kuba and Serab.

Capel also added to its Williamsburg line with additional indoor/outdoor styles. Garden Maze is an all-over pattern and there are four new fabric-bordered looks as well.

 

-- Obeetee Inc. continues to expand its licensed program with Williamsburg with two new design additions of reproduction looks. Noteworthy is the updated palette used for the Transylvania rug, which depicts golden natural schemes as opposed to the original rugs’ traditional palette of reds, blues and other core Williamsburg colors. These high-end pieces are set to retail for about $1,500 for a 5-by-8.

 

-- Orian Rugs has taken its one-million-point Shakespeare collection to a new level with the introduction of a sister collection, Silk Expressions. The new line comprises 1.3-million-point, power-loomed rugs that employ the company's LustaSheen yarn system for luster. "This goes after the viscose market with its shine, but it doesn't shed," explained Paul Sullivan, svp sales and marketing. The price is also a notch above Shakespeare: $249 versus the latter's $229.

 

-- Central Oriental has a new promotional price point collection in response to the "tough" state of the economy. Interlude is a 100% polypropylene, USA-made collection that spans about 17 patterns in various colorways. A 5-by-8 is priced at $129.

The new Shadows collection is a step up from there, but also cost conscious. The earth-tone, soft contemporary one-million-point rugs use drop-stitch and double point for a carved effect. A 5-by-8 is $299 at retail.

And then a step higher is Dimensions, which employs the same mechanical carving as Shadows. These are 1.3-million-point rugs.

 

-- Nourison is marrying its 17-year-old sister business of dec pillows and chair pads with its rug business for the first time this market, bringing all three components under the Nourison umbrella. The plan is to cross-pollinate the products closely and offer customers special rug programs that match to pillows and pads. Other product categories in the works include bath and home office decorative pieces, including wastepaper baskets, tissue box covers, photo albums and other items.

Mina Peykar, wife of company principal Alex Peykar, runs this effort.

Elsewhere, Nourison has added more silk and hand-carved design elements to the Nourison 3000 collection -- sister to the longstanding Nourison 2000 program. Made of 100% New Zealand wool and pure silk, the intricate design detailing adds a more upscale feature to the line.

-- Designer Josie Natori and her bedding, dec pillow and throw licensee JLA Home are together ramping up the upscale Natori line's gift-able assortment of dec pillows and throws in response to a demand from retail partners, both new and existing. "We're finding that the gift part -- our decorative pillows and throws -- have been receiving an extremely strong response," explained Scott Howard, vp sales for JLA Home. "Right now, these gifts make up 20% of our [Natori-branded] business, and that is rapidly growing."

Throws range from $150 for the bamboo Ogee styles through $700 for cashmere with leather fringe pieces. Dec pillows are retail-targeted from $100 to $300.

 

-- cmi, positioned for this market in a new and larger showroom, is introducing its highest-end line ever in conjunction with Sunbrella via a license partnership. The outdoor rugs -- priced at $499 for a 5-by-8 -- carry the same weather-resistance and high-performance attributes as other Sunbrella products. There are four patterns available in multiple colorways. And as it does for all of its rug and home accessory products, cmi makes the Sunbrella rugs domestically at its headquarters in Pawtucket, R.I.

Don Scarlata, cmi president, said that while the goods represent a new highest price bracket for his company, the $499 ticket sits comfortably within the growing assortment of outdoor rugs in the marketplace, which is increasingly making room for more such upscale products. "This is our top-of-the-line collection, but not for the market as a whole," he explained.

 

-- Sphinx this market hits the top and bottom of its price bracket with a new upscale hand-tufted collection and the debut of a lower-cost promotional machine-made polypropylene line.

Bentley is a grouping of hand-tufted, hand-spun wool rugs in a natural tone palette and priced at $799 for a 5-by-8-- a trade-up from the company's typical offerings in this construction at around $499.

On the other end of the spectrum is Hudson, a machine-made polypropylene collection in traditional through contemporary looks that hits $199 -- a price the company said is being increasingly demanded by retailers.

In between are many other new offerings, such as a batch of new transitional patterns for the New Zealand wool machine-made Madeira, the polypropylene and acrylic machine-made Supremacy collection, and the hard-twisted nylon Infinity line.

 

-- Answering to a surge in intereset for its Carefree-branded accent rugs, Homefires of Atlanta has come out with as many as 50 new patterns for the acrylic hooked machine-washable collection. New looks include novelty themes like kitchen, updated coastal, pet, seasonal, high country lodge, florals and many others. A 22-inch-by-34-inch is set to retail for $39.95.

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