Major mill 'livens' up color palette

Marvin Lazaro, June 17, 2002

Using a scenic farm as the new backdrop for its annual Royal Velvet Color College, Pillowtex Corp. unveiled a wide array of new solid colors for its solid color sheet and towel programs as well as a menagerie of new jacquard towels, printed and embroidered sheets and bed ensembles.

In contrast to earlier Color Colleges, Pillowtex last week eschewed a particular theme for its latest palette additions and instead decided to introduce the colors as part of a new campaign called The Color of Life.

"We picked colors that weren't represented in the line," said Gretchen Dale, vp of design and new product development. "And as we went through the new colors one by one we realized they didn't have, and didn't need, a story behind them.

"They don't have to have one theme."

Finally, in order to help retailers ring up more sales at their respective stores, Pillowtex introduced several new and innovative marketing and merchandising ideas.

Each is designed to maximize rapidly shrinking floor and shelf space and take advantage of the latest in technology.

Joining the already expansive solid-color towel array are cherry blossom, a warmer pink; java, reminiscent of coffee beans; sedona, a deep cinnamon; ginseng, a soft linen green; amber, a deeper patina yellow; Chesapeake, a rich blue/green; concord, just like the grapes of the same name; shadow, a true gray; and hydrangea, a true purple.

Further enhancing its towel offerings, Pillowtex is also offering retailers eight new styles of jacquard towels. Providence, a richly colored, vertically striped damask with a scroll design; Kinetic, a wavy, vertically lined textural dobby; Checker, a multi-colored block design with a honeycomb weave; Rosalena, an updated all-over rose pattern; and Isabella, an exotic full body paisley with a contrasting cuff, are all new patterns, while the currently offered Arabesque is updated with two new colors. On the non-solid solid side are Greenbriar, which has a sheared velvet-like cuff; Maxwell, a solid textural with a scroll-like faux cuff; and Cotillion, a decorative dobby accented with a rayon sheen.

The new towels are being offered at price points designed to be attractive to retailers. All will be offered at the current retail price of $14.99 for the Royal Velvet line (Providence, Kinetic, Checker, Rosalena, Isabella) and $11.99 for the RV Classic (Greenbriar, Maxwell and Cotillion).

On the sheeting and bed ensemble side, Pillowtex also unveiled a vast array of new products. Supplementing its Royal Velvet 275-count solid-color line are seven new colors, several of which are the same as on the towel side, but less infused. Cherry blossom borrows its soft tones from the tree, while java is a rich brown. Sedona takes its tones from the color of red earth. Ginseng is a calming tone of green, and hydrangea is a slightly grayer purple than the towel shade of the same name. Seaspray is an aqua blue reminiscent of the ocean, while Newport is the true blue of denim.

Pillowtex is also augmenting its 275-count print and embroidered sheet line with six new offerings. Prairie, available in crocus, ginseng, ivory and salsa, and Pick-up Sticks, in hydrangea, ivory, meadow, sail, seaspray and white, both feature an embroidered hem and 100 percent pima cotton construction. Also made from pima cotton are Stripe, in deep, neutral and pastel color combinations; Lily Pond, in blue/green and neutral; and Whimsy. Iridescent will be offered in jade, citrine, emerald, amethyst, opal, coral, ruby and garnet, and, true to its name, it shimmers with iridescence.

The RV Interiors ensemble line will be augmented with five new patterns, each offered in queen, king and California king sizes only. Lily Pond, an all-over oversized floral in blue/ green or neutral, and Stripe, a vertically striped look in deep or neutral tones, each have 275-count coordinate printed sheets. Marakesh, a deep tone multi-colored ensemble; Ombre, in green or blue; and Tuscany, a graphic multi-color, each have 230-count coordinate sheeting. Retail prices range from $330 to $350.

"We've had a really nice reaction to our new looks," Dale said. "It's been a great Color College."

According to Bob Hamilton, vp of advertising, the new solid sheets will ship to retailers by late August, while the towels and printed and embroidered sheets will ship in late September.

Adding more to the pot, Pillowtex also revealed several new merchandising techniques for retailers' sales floors, including one program that is still under development but, Hamilton said, "may change the face of retailing as we know it."

For the selling floor, Pillowtex will be shipping the new icons that represent the new towel colors, a double-sided, free-standing photographic tower and a free-standing, self-contained, double-sided lit tower. Both towers will show photographic images of the new towel line, including graphics of the various sizes of bath rugs available. And taking advantage of the latest in online technology, Pillowtex is currently developing the Royal Velvet Color Kiosk Center. The unit will enable consumers who visit the floor to special order bath rugs and other Royal Velvet products directly from Pillowtex in any color or size by using the interactive touch-screen unit. When completed, the display will be approximately 8 feet tall by 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep.

Said Hamilton, "This will change the dimensions of retail dramatically."

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