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CHF Remains Eclectic

At The New York Market — Hemingway, Hippie Chics and lab coats. CHF Industries once again is serving up a varied menu.

Also new: CHF Prêt-a-Porter, an open line for regional retail companies that don't have enough open-to-buy to command custom design development. CHF is showing six adult and six juvenile designs in the line in a range of prices. Products include bed-in-a-bag, comforter sets and sheet sets.

“There are products here that are ready to go that address the retailers who can't commit to the minimums for exclusives,” said Joan Karron, executive vice president, strategic market development.

For retailers that can commit to such volumes, CHF has set up CHF Design Studio in the bedding and bath sections of the showroom. Decked out in lab coats, CHF product developers consult with buyers across laboratory tables on customer-specific design needs using concept boards, materials samples and a rack of directional garments. The focus is not, as one might expect, on product for spring but fall '06.

“This is our biggest idea,” said Karron. “The point here is to institutionalize the process we're already involved with.”

CHF has also shifted gears in the way it is presenting My Room, the juvenile collection. Rather than display specific designs, the product set is skewed toward demonstrating on-trend color stories or particular sewing techniques such as the incorporation of faux leather trims into top-of-bed.

For the 20-something demographic, Hippie Chic — an of-the-moment design trend previously — has blossomed into a lifestyle collection. CHF is showing five beds this market, including two that fall into a sub-brand for fall designated as Gypsy Chic, with richer, deeper colors.

“Hippie Chic is really working for us,” Karron said. “It's working at the top, and we've even done a version for mass.”

This market's big introduction is the launch of the Ernest Hemingway license in domestics, for which CHF is producing bedding, bath and window. The line consists of four beds inspired by the places that Hemingway either lived or vacationed: Cuba/Florida Keys, Spain/Paris, Idaho and Africa.

The license launched in furniture in 2001. At the market, CHF is displaying Hemingway linens on bedroom sets from furniture licensee Thomasville.

“The furniture industry seems so adept at marketing masculine brands, and that suggested to us that no one has really capitalized on that kind of product,” said Karron.

A 350-count tonal sheet in six to eight colors anchors the program along with a solid 30-by-54 towel in the palette.

The Ernest Hemingway collection also includes shower curtains, bath rugs and coordinating bath accessories of carved glass, hand-painted wood and faux tooled leather. The line targets specialty stores and upper tiers with $249 king comforter sets.

Initial comforter styles include: Havana in periwinkle with chocolate and an ethnic woven graphic as accents; Madrid, an engineered large-scale vermilion scarf design with Spanish and Moroccan roots; Sun Valley, inspired by Southwestern blankets in tweed with suede and leather touches; and Safari, a black and taupe three-dimensional jacquard in a stylized skin motif.

CHF plans to market the collection to department stores and specialty retailers, though may consider pursuing the furniture channel in the future.

“Let's get enlistment in our traditional channels; then we can explore others,” Karron said.

In its other major licensed collection, Umbra, CHF has stripped down the categorization on the five beds it is presenting this market. The look is lean, Karron said, because the customers for this type of design “don't want a lot of stuff on the bed.”

The stand-outs in the collection are Lily — a dramatic abstract flatbed print in coffee, mocha and lipstick red — and Metro, a modern, single-woven piece of fabric with a staggered stripe construction.

Umbra is also offering free-standing quilts, pillows, throws, blankets, window panels and shades.

On display beds, quilts are sometimes treated as the top-of-bed, with the duvet or comforter folded at the bottom as an accent piece.

A similar trend is taking place in Peri bedding, where embellishment has been dialed down to nearly zero in favor of fabrication.

“I think there's been a return, especially for younger people, to less fluff, less puff,” said Frank Foley, CHF's president and CEO.

Peri window is showing a variety of design directions: romantic vintage, urban graphic and traditional formal, albeit far less heavy in construction than in the past.

CHF-branded window is showing country looks, sophisticated designs, glamorous treatments and novelties. In addition, the company is showing 20 new shades this market, as well as several new window accessories designs in both CHF and Peri brands.

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