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  • Cecile Corral

A Touch of Style

Cecile Corral, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, May 30, 2005

New York — The kitschy aquarium- and seashell-patterned promotional beach towels that vacationers pack — but leave behind at the Holiday Inn — will inevitably be a part of the beach towel business, suppliers agree. But as trends in apparel and home lean toward more sophisticated and designer styles, a new wave of modish looks in muted hues on heavier-weight, larger size beach towels is having its day in the sun.

“Goodbye lighthouses and dolphins, hello retro looks, photo-real florals and more sophisticated looks,” said Gretchen Dale, director of design and marketing, New York-based Loftex USA. “We went to the throw-away beach look for a while. But now we are adding more things to it in order for the retailer and us and everyone to make a little more of a gross margin.”

Dale said jacquard constructions are “curving up” with more embellishments, and fiber-reactive styles are stepping up in quality with heavier weights — to 18 and 19 pounds per dozen up from 14 and 15 pounds per dozen — and are featuring double-sided designs.

Building on that note, Espalma by Cobra Trading Corp.'s Rae Ellen Blum, vice president and national sales manager, said trends today are calling for better goods, such as velour jacquards that marry to stripes. “Everything layers in with a coordinate,” she said.

And themes, she continued, are “very focused on color, with design filtering into the color.”

Sunvim Hometextiles (USA) Inc., a Chinese manufacturer and supplier, sees a trend in making jacquard styles “fancier,” said Gary Frenchman, president, “with bright stripes, borders, some sculpted areas, drops, under warps, and by combining velour with loop.”

Welspun USA Inc., based in New York, said its core line of beach towels are better-quality jacquards and double jacquards. Its newest design presentation includes a large tropical offering, but this year it incorporates more ready-to-wear inspired effects.

“Tropical remains strong, but we mix it with plaids, stripes and argyles,” said Blair Tate, design director, bath, Welspun USA. “For example, we take a hibiscus, but we add plaids or stripes for an overlay of imagery.”

Color schemes are also a departure from the usual bright palette. “The new colors are pleasing brights, not crayon brights,” she explained.

Another apparel-related look gracing beach towels is animal skin patterns.

New York-based Karsten America's Carla Grosso, design director for beach, described understated, minimal animal skin prints as “here to stay.”

Hilasal also recently made a major oversized animal-skin pattern presentation. The towels employ a photographic and two-dimensional surface design.

“Animal prints with a twist continue to be top sellers,” said Janet Duvall Traynor, senior vice president, design and product development, Hilasal USA.

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