Color trends hinge on quality

Retail Editor 8, Marvin Lazaro, April 1, 2002

A sheet's thread count and price point are apparently the primary factors in effectively determining its color palette.

The lower a sheet's thread count, the livelier and more fashion forward the chosen color. But on the opposite side of the thread count war, if a sheet takes the next step up in price point due to construction, then its color is more sophisticated and urbane.

And while manufacturers have downshifted slightly in their drive to introduce higher and higher thread counts, it is still a focus, as lower-count programs have been replaced by their higher-count cousins.

But suppliers agree that it's all about color.

"Color is in," said Donna Hein, team leader for Springs' Wamsutta bed and bath line. "Many of our requests overall were for more variety in color."

Leading the way this spring market with the broadest range of new color is the Fort Mill, SC-based Springs Industries. The mill added 23 new colors to four of its existing programs. Bolstering the new color count is the palette from a brand new program.

Springs' 400 Sateen line will welcome the soft and sophisticated tones of halo, a soft yellow; dusk, a periwinkle tone; julep, a soft green; and feather, a gray, to the original colors of white and ivory.

The mill's 300 Pima Sateen line has undergone the most changes, as six colors join the family, bolstering the entire palette to 19. The line now covers the entire range from light to dark as daffodil; aloe; cameo, which is a soft pink; baltic, a mid-tone blue; dune; and eggplant, a rich saturated plum, join white, ivory, canvas, iris, surf, dawn, cloud, rattan, pewter, scarlet, teal, raven and indigo. On the "extinct" list for the 300 Pima Sateen line were midas, rose, citron, coffee, spice, concorde and palm.

Following last year's trend of adding higher-thread count constructions, Springs has added the 280-count Pima-rich line to its product assortment. Made from a blend of Pima cotton and polyester, this brand's new construction includes in its palette 12 colors that have more of an apparel influence, including some iced pastel and classically deep looks. White, ivory, jonquil, mint, pale lavender, jade, rain, shell, camel, navy, cranberry and ebony are all offered.

For its 250 Soft Blend opening price point sheet lineup, Hein said the colors offered are more trend-directed and therefore were made up of "high-energy brights." But this year, some classic primary colors — emerald, royal, boysenberry and mango — were added to the continuing palette of alabaster, sand, sunlight, fern, bluebell, denim, pebble, violet, lagoon, kiwi, fuchsia, juniper, velvet, onyx, neptune and cherry.

The 250-count Egyptian cotton line's palette will be broadened and enhanced with five new colors that make it slightly less gray. Aachet, a lavender-casted pink; menthe, a blue-casted green; oceanside, a mid-tone rich aqua; raspberry, a color from the berry family; and cinnamon will join lily, candleglow, harvest, crocus, hay, windstream, landscape, ash, ming red, sawyer green, black, nocturne and vineyard. Only one color, lapis, was dropped from the assortment.

"A lot of people wanted us to give each color palette its own personality," Hein said.

Joining the discarded colors this year is Springs' 250-count Sensuous program. Constructed from brushed cotton, the novelty approach behind the construction had apparently run its course and was subsequently discontinued.

Although not rolling out as many new colors as its fellow mill, Pillowtex is introducing a few new shades for its Charisma and Fieldcrest Sueded Sateen lines as well as a brand new construction for its Fieldcrest label.

"Colors were a little more saturated for us this market," said Gretchen Dale, senior vp of design and new product development. "Even the pastel shades are getting much more saturated and a little gutsier."

As always, Pillowtex will debut its Royal Velvet color introductions during its annual Color College, which usually takes place in June.

The Royal Velvet Intrigue sheet, which was introduced last fall, will be supplemented with a new print.

The 360-count Charisma line, however, has undergone a change. Truffle, a shade of cocoa; veranda, a green; twilight, from the blue family; clay, a shade of peach; and flay, a yellow neutral, join the continuing palette of white, parchment and sandalwood.

The Fieldcrest 240-count Sueded Sateen line will enjoy an infusion of "all-over, Americana feel" colors. Dungaree, cocoa and sunset join white, marble, blush, patina, sky and plum, while chamois and ivory were dropped.

Pillowtex will add a new construction to its Fieldcrest branded line, a 300-count micro-denier that is a blend of 60 percent cotton and 40 percent polyester micro-denier yarn. The palette here, Dale said, "is a little edgier" and consists of "classics with a twist." White indigo, mocha, Tucson (a yellow shade), Carmine (a red shade), bay leaf, mulberry and powder blue all make up the initial palette. A twin open stock sheet will be offered at retail for $8.99.

"You really can't get into the funky colors with the higher thread counts," Dale said. "The white and ivory and the paler colors are more traditional. But I do think the deeper jewel tones are what's next."

The color focus for WestPoint Stevens is on "non-solid solids." In other words, this mill will augment its solid-color products, namely its towels, with various forms of embellishments.

For its Seduction line of towels the palette will focus on sophisticated mid-tones. Mocha, amethyst, soft teal, new sage, indigo and merlot will all be offered. Also under the Seduction umbrella will be the Diamond Quilt and Bellagio towels, which will have the same micro-cotton yarn construction but in a textured lattice pattern and a sculpted architectural shell motif, respectively. Diamond Quilt will be offered in white, ivory, linen, sage and amethyst, while white, ivory, light blue and lavender will represent the Bellagio palette.

Under the mill's Grand Patrician line, the new colors focus on the "prairie chic" motif now popular in apparel. Prairie sky, a softly grayed blue; desert rose; thistle, a subtly lavender shade; juniper; walnut; and canyon red will all debut this spring. The Grand Patrician Fancies line of towels follows in the footsteps of Diamond Quilt and Bellagio, as lace, organza and tone-on-tone embroidery each appear on the Casablanca, Floranza and Cameo Rose towels. These three Fancies will only be offered in white and ivory. The Grand Patrician Jacquards line, consisting of Scroll, Paisley Shawl, Ironworks and Banded Herringbone, will be offered in palettes generally consisting of white, ivory, sage and slate, among others.

Taking a slightly different approach than its larger cousins, Design Works is focusing its new color introductions around one brand only, its 410-count Royalty sheeting, said Glen Giordano, director of merchandising.

The line is divided into three segments: floral jacquard, royalty diamond and royalty check.

For the floral jacquard line, lemon grass, parchment and sandalwood join white and sand. Silver and black will augment the royalty diamond line, while sage and cypress will be added to royalty check.

Last, but certainly not least, in the color fray is the Alexander Julian Watercolors line by Dan River.

Like Design Works, the Danville, VA-based mill is not dropping any colors from the licensed designer line, but supplementing it. Boysenberry, curry and moss join a continuing palette of pearl, citrine, cashew, placid blue, crocus, Malibu, spice, peony, hibiscus, sandstone, aloe, pool, lagoon, amethyst, claret, laurel, midnight, mulberry, pewter and sapphire.

"Greens are very successful, and moss falls between our laurel and aloe shades. Boysenberry is based on the success of pink in the market in general, and curry continues the trend to look for a new spice tone," said Allison Rearer, product manager for Dan River's designer collection.

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