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Nichol eyes high-end growth

NEW YORK -With the luxury boom in full swing, Gerry Nichol Decorative Textiles is looking to expand its private-label business with upstairs department stores and high-end specialty retailers.

The company began producing opulent private-label bedding about two years ago and currently places 10 to 15 private-label patterns a year, according to president Gerry Nichol. "We wanted to wait until we had a good track record and enough different techniques to show to potential clients," he said. "Now we're in step-up mode."

Although bedding has been the focus of the fledgling private-label business, the company is now "starting to explore tabletop," Nichol said.

Much of the inspiration for PL programs comes from the company's Gerry Nichol line of decorative pillows, window treatments and throws. Nichol, who previously sold antique textiles, pursues updated treatments of classic Renaissance and Victorian patterns.

"It's not just the patterns that we're interested in reproducing-it's the dormant techniques," he said. "Our forte is handwork and the techniques that make that kind of thing unique, i.e., applique and embroidery."

Nichol sources the bulk of his product from India and China, where handwork is a tradition with a long lineage.

"These cultures have been producing goods for the Western market for hundreds and hundreds of years," he said. "I don't think that level of workmanship is going to be found in this country."

As a vendor whose 4-year-old business has resolutely focused on the high end, he's gratified to see the market's growing interest in luxury-quality goods.

"There's probably 10 factors you could name that are leading this trend. But instinct tells me that a lot of companies are simply looking to have a competitive edge," he said.

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