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Textiles suppliers no longer

BCST Staff -- Home Textiles Today, March 25, 2002

Neutrality may still reign supreme in the world of solid colors, but richer, deeper tones are slowly making a comeback and have become firmly entrenched in virtually every aspect of home textiles.

According to Home Textiles Today's Annual Best-Selling Colors report, the top bedding products are still tipping in neutral colors' favor, but deeper colors such as indigo, hunter green and burgundy are making their mark. In bath rugs and decorative pillows especially, rich colors are the dominant force.

"I'm delighted to hear color is becoming more important," said Gretchen Dale, Pillowtex's vp of design and new product development. "I think it's because colors are an emotional thing and with the way the world is today people just want to make themselves feel better through more color in their lives."

Dale said neutral colors are usually strong when the financial picture is good, but as times worsen people try to improve their outlook through brighter or deeper colors at home. Since the United States has been grinding its way through a recession and other tumultuous world events, Dale said, the use of those colors will increase.

Don Johnson, executive vp of Burlington House's window division, said window coverings have stayed on the neutral side despite the amount of color Burlington has in its palette.

"It's a very neutral story," Johnson said. "No matter what we do, the neutrals are always No. 1 or No. 2.

"I don't think the trend will change," he continued. "Some of the other colors may appear or disappear, but neutrals will always be around."

In some categories, namely decorative pillows and especially in Martex Vellux blankets, the colors remained essentially the same or one color was dropped to be replaced by a similar hue.

"Eggplant has disappeared and been replaced with cactus, which is a true sage," said Loren Sweet, president of Brentwood Originals. "Otherwise, the colors simply rearranged themselves."

Bardwil's senior vp, marketing and product development, Judi Alexander, felt the changing of the guard from neutrals to more infused colors was just beginning.

"There's not much change in our top five colors, but where we are seeing movement is in the introduction of the newest colors to the palette: salsa, linen, Pacific, meadow and Central Park, which take the palette from traditional to more sophisticated mid-tones. We hope people will be interested in the more mid-tone palette as opposed to the light and dark we featured until now."

On the fabric side of things, jute supplanted ruby as No. 1, while rose and sage replaced ruby and lilac.

"I'm glad to see jute in No. 1," said Pam Maffei-Toolan, director of design for Waverly's Lifestyle Group. "We do well with tea-stained look. Jute's good as a ground color in both fabrics and home fashions products."

Of course, white remains on the radar screen from the bathroom to the bedroom to the kitchen and even the dining room. The pristine color was the leader in no less than three of the categories, Cannon Classic sheets, Royal Velvet Classic Towels and Wamsutta Egyptian Cotton sheets, and was a factor in virtually all of the categories. In fact, the color of snow and clouds was more popular in 2001 than it was in 2000, garnering a top 5 spot in eight of the 15 standard products, including Cannon Classic towels, Ritzenthaler kitchen textiles, Royal Velvet table linens by Bardwil, chintz draperies by S. Lichtenberg and duvet covers by High Country Linens.

On the flip side from white and the richer, deeper colors is the absence of all colors — black — which placed in the top five in one more category for 2001 than 2000. Black made an appearance in two bedding categories, Cannon comforters and Cannon Classic sheets, and two window categories, Burlington's Safari and Lichtenberg's chintz program, Danielle.

"It does surprise me a little that black is in the top five because it's a more trendy color than I would expect to see," Dale said. "It might be top-of-bed driven as well as a fashion story."

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