WestPoint Home to Assert Design Leadership

New York — The word at WestPoint Home is “content.”

WestPoint's new design chief is leading the charge to inject more fashion into product design and stake out a point of view.

“I understand the pressure [buyers] are under,” said Albert Sardelli, who joined the company two months ago as senior vp, design. “But pressure can beget fear which can beget safeness, which can beget blandness.”

Sardelli, a 30-year industry vet, said the same holds true for supplier design teams. At WestPoint, he hopes to present only designs the team is really committed to — quality over quantity. “Instead of doing 15 beds, maybe you do as many as you can do well,” he said.

The dedication to upping the content quotient in product development is ceo Joe Pennacchio's mandate, according to Steve Hoffman, vp marketing services/licenses.

“This is a story of change and momentum,” he said, noting that WestPoint Home will mark its first anniversary Aug. 8. The company is a subsidiary of American Real Estate Partners, which acquired the assets of the WestPoint Stevens mill in bankruptcy court.

WestPoint Home will punctuate the change by overhauling its showroom for the upcoming August market with an eye to injecting some “showmanship” in the event.

“You can't change the business, but you can focus it,” said Sardelli. “A market is a grand form of a calling card. It gives you an opportunity to put yourself in front of customers in your best way.”

WestPoint will also take the wraps off its new licensed bed and bath collection for fashion designer Betsey Johnson, and more than double the amount of presentation space it gives to its upstairs Charisma line.

Perhaps even more astonishing, however, WestPoint will show an open line of bedding ensembles for the first time in several years.

“We're taking a point of view,” Sardelli emphasized. “We're going to have some conviction and put a palette out there and some beds that have been very thoughtfully designed.”

In the best of all possible worlds, merchants will order the beds as is, Hoffman said. But if they don't, the point will have been made: “We hope they'll say, 'Wow, you really understand design. We want you to work with us.' ”

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