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The Second Coming of Quilts

Triangle Home FashionsTriangle Home Fashions reintroduced quilts into its offerings during the New York Home Fashions Market in September.
NEW YORK - The quilt category is making one of its periodic comebacks, but the landscape has changed since the last big quilt boom roughly a decade ago.
     For the most part, piecework and heavy embellishments are out. The new generation of quilts is print-driven, and while there is still a niche for traditional designs, they tend to nod toward Shabby Chic rather than granny's quilting bee.
     "New traditional is a really good term for it. We want to have a connection to what quilts were but reflect how consumers decorate their homes today," said Allen Darwin, vp branding and market development, for Triangle Home Fashions.
     Added Carole Antone, vp of creative at Peking Handicraft, "Every trend that we're talking about for our own regular top-of-bed we're also putting in place for quilts."
     In addition to changing tastes, the shift away from piecing can be tied to increased labor costs overseas.
     "There are fewer hand-stitched quilts in the market now, where machine stitching is now prevalent. Also, patchwork quilts using many small pieces of fabric is becoming more scarce, hence the emergence of more print-driven designs," said Nelson Chow, vp of sales at C & F Enterprises.
     In another shift, Revman vp of creative services Diane Piemonte said quilts seem to be selling consistently throughout the year as opposed to seasonally. "I think they now address a broader audience, becoming a fashion staple for the more modern customer rather than being limited to traditional piece vintage or lodge looks that were historically the mainstay of the quilt business," she said.
C & F EnterprisesC & F Enterprises introduced Studio, a new line of quilts that uses an engineered print, during September’s New York Home Fashions Market. Mazarine is shown above.

     As is the case elsewhere in bedding, microfiber has also infiltrated the quilt space, especially in opening price point business. All-cotton quilts (face fabric, bottom fabric and batting) slot in at the top end of the business, with mid-price quilts offering a cotton face and bottom with a poly fill and lower-end constructions cotton on the face only - or completely microfiber. In terms of pricing, big box retailers general are hitting price points of $39-$59 on queen sizes, with a range of $49-$89 in the middle and better quilts settling in at the $129-$149 tier.
     "The key price points a department and specialty retailers are $99 and $129," said Piemonte.
     Many vendors said solid color quilts are used as layers while patterned quilts are employed as the top of bed. Jenney Zhu, president and chief design officer at Triangle Home Fashions, also sees more demand from the big boxes for reversible quilts. "It's more sophisticated, a young look."
     The quilt frenzy of the aught years coincided with the off-shoring rush, and prices got pounded down fairly quickly. Given that offshore sources are now fairly established and cotton prices have leveled out, vendors don't see a similar race to the bottom this time around. If anything, macroeconomic trends could pressure pricing up a bit.
    "It should be fairly stable unless any natural disasters affect the cotton production this coming year," said Chow. "However, the increase in labor costs, especially in China, may have some impact."

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