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The hot-shots and the not-so-hots from spring market

In a spring market that provided a real sense of optimism throughout the industry, vendors broke the mold on many new designs and steered away from the recent trend of introducing "me-too" products.

The move toward value-added merchandise garnering higher price points continued as many suppliers eschewed the opening price point items.

Simplicity and solid-color designs gave way to more elaborate textured designs with contemporary looks. In addition, multi-colored patterns were also well received at market.

The prevalence of licensed designs continued as suppliers strived to differentiate through the use of popular, and often colorful, character licenses.

Arley Corp.

Jerry Pittman, senior vp, sales and marketing

HITS: "In our window line, the hits were Bentley, a chenille look, and Animal Kingdom, a burnout sheer. And we also had a big hit with a style called Geneva, which was a plush dot on a sheer ground."

MISSES: "A couple of appliqued kitchen curtains that didn't fly. I think there's a few too many of them out there. In the bedding end, Ashford, which was done in earthy tones, was a little too monochromatic for our customers."

Ashford Court

Amy Bell, executive vp, design director

HITS: "Ashford Court had a fantastic market with favorable responses to the majority of our line. Our British Classic collection was a huge success with Shoemaker, Jockey, Snow Drift and Soar — engineered tapestries with beautiful plaid chenille backs with leather cords — being the best styles. Sammie and Ilsa are our newest tapestries in our Out Of Africa collection and are already on order with our major accounts. Red, yellow and black are selling equally well."

MISSES: "Our Nautical collection. I think that the buyers see it more as a spring delivery vs. a fall delivery."

Audrey Linens

Audrey Freidman, president

HITS: "Without a doubt our No. 1 hits were the Palm Tree Collections. We did them in pastel colors as well as neutrals."

MISSES: "Brightly colored veggies."

Avanti Linens

Chris Plattman, director, sales & marketing

HITS: "We hit a home run with the Veratex line of embellished towels we introduced this market. The towels tie into Veratex's bedding and bath patterns. The looks are very formal, with a lot of intricate embroideries and treatments. Patterns with the strongest reaction, so far, are Rhapsody, Arbor, Solange, Sterling Rose and Alice."

MISSES: "We showed a collection of jacquard towels with direct embroideries that didn't seem to get much of a reaction."

The Baltic Linen Co.

Jane Berger, vp, design, decorative bedding

HITS: "We had an overall great market. [In bedding] our hits were Meadow, a 180-count complete bed set in fresh yellow, lilac and pale pastel ground with a spring tulips and pansy floral print; Nolita, a 200-count complete bed set featuring a slub-duck base cloth and a trendy pattern of toile and graphic twigs, configured in an applique-looking print; and Chatsworth, a textured jacquard comforter set and complete bed set richly textured and colored in brick and gold for a very dramatic master bedroom look."

MISSES: "Our miss was Adriatic, a 220-count sateen complete bed set with an updated Asian-inspired pattern featuring a graphic rendering of gingko leaves and a fancy stripe."

Bardwil Linens

Nancy Kristoff, president, sales

HITS: "Our hits included the Lenox table linen collection, particularly the Laurel Leaf damask; Innocence, a burnout tablecloth; Lenox Holiday Nouveaux, an engineered border print; Lenox Holiday, an embroidered tablecloth; the Fieldcrest Impressions, a heat-transfer damask; and the Royal Velvet engineered border tablecloth on cotton duck. Grand Victorian was also very well received."

MISSES: "Our misses were Natures Path, an Indian woven jacquard in a leaf motif; Snowman Frolic, an Indian woven Christmas jacquard; and Snowtown, a poly-cotton rotary print cloth."

Berkshire Blanket

Ellen McNulty, director, marketing

HITS: "Our biggest hit was our pima cotton blanket. We've positioned it as the softest cotton blanket, and it's at a very sharp retail price point, $29.99, $49.99 and $69.99 Another big hit was the shearling throw. It's constructed like a coat from women's apparel, and it's a $29.99 retail."

MISSES: "The only thing that would qualify as a miss was a reversible boucle, and we had to adjust the retail price point, to $39.99 from $29.99."

Brentwood Originals

Loren Sweet, president

HITS: "We had a great response to velvets, both cotton velveteens as well as rayon panne velvets. This was clearly true in both window and pillows and even throws. There were many constructions involved, but virtually everyone is participating in one fashion or another."

MISSES: "Embroidered silk, while a definite hit in window, was a miss in pillows. We are reconstructing the product with a different finish and will reintroduce it as we still feel strongly about silk."

The Cecil Saydah Co.

Peter Katz, director, marketing

HITS: "We had a tremendous reaction to our microfiber introductions, as well as the launch of a new ceramic tile trivet designed to coordinate with our kitchen patterns. Both items were selected by multiple customers."

MISSES: "Our biggest miss was probably our toile kitchen statement. Although it is a strong fashion direction, it was not embraced as warmly as our other patterns."

Charles D. Owen Mfg.

Brian Munsey, vp, licensing

HITS: "We had two big hits at market. The first was the Wamsutta brand. It's really taking off and laying down roots. The second was the promotional fleece throw. It was really very strong."

MISSES: "The Snuggler, a snap and wrap blanket, continued to disappoint in its placement."

CHF Industries

Joan Karron, executive vp

HITS: "All of our Peri window and bedding was a huge success, particularly Bali Hai, Armoire, Rendezvous and Notting Hill. The launch of On My Own, the bedding for the 20-something crowd, was also a success."

MISSES: "Joan's Dogs, which only goes to prove the old axiom that if you name a pattern after yourself it's the kiss of death for it."

Commonwealth Home Fashions

Barry Goodman, president

HITS: "Something called Intrigue. A panne velvet. It was very hot. Hathaway embroidery. It has a scalloped edge with a double scalloped valance. A great linen look to it and a price point at retail of $24.99. Super Tergal, a 1350-twist voile. The softness of it and the high twist made it a hit."

MISSES: "Something called Jardin. A printed sheer. I think the color and the size of the print weren't right."

Croscill Home

David Kahn, ceo, president

HITS: "Boulevard, a contemporary gold and brown jacquard with spots of chenille. By far the No. 1 [hit]. The market is looking for more contemporary. Horizon, a contemporary multi-color print on a sateen, and Imperial, a very traditional opulent chenille red and gold bed [were also hits]. In window, Lavish and Park Avenue, which are rayon and cotton jacquards, and Vintage Velvet and Vintage Embroidery. The whole vintage look we tied together very well."

MISSES: "The Corsage comforter. People reacted much more strongly to Bordeaux Bouquet."

Dan River Home Fashions

Lou Casali, vp, sales

HITS: "In the Marquis Estates, Chalet. For Marquis Bed-in-a-Bag, Sebastian. For Dan River's specialty woven comforter ensemble, Kiarra. In the Alexander Julian specialty woven ensembles, Half Moon Bay. For the 250-count blend bed-in-a-bag ensemble, Country Road and Toscana. For the 250 blend embellished bed-in-a-bag ensemble, Victorian Parlor and Francesca. This was a very strong market for us."

MISSES: "In our 210 blend bed-in-a-bag category, it was Baxter."

Down, Inc.

Terry McGuckin, vp, sales

HITS: "The biggest hit for us was definitely the Anne Hathaway collection, especially the down-filled pillows and comforters as well as the down-filled blankets."

MISSES: "The only miss was the wool-filled pillow, and that's only because it was in direct competition to our down-filled products."

Down Lite International

Andrew Payne, vp, sales

HITS: "Our big hit was the down-filled patchwork quilt. The pricing is very similar to a high-quality regular patchwork quilt. And it's a relatively new concept that everyone thought was a great way to capitalize on the patchwork craze. The Croscill embroidered down comforters got a very, very positive reaction. We've never really had a down comforter that had decorative embroidery on it. This brings a little fashion to the basic bedding area. The buyers really responded to it."

MISSES: "Our chamber pillows filled with polyester. No interest. Everyone said, 'What's the purpose?'"

Ellison/Alice Manufacturing

Kevin Finlay, president

HITS: "Jardin, Legacy, Spring Meadow, Windsor, Cortina Stripe, Grand Safari, Hathaway, Reflections and Butterfly Dreams. The florals — Jardin, Spring Meadow and Windsor — are just beautifully designed and colored. The Legacy pattern is a follow-up on the Asian theme, and that's been very strong for us. Cortina is a very colorful pattern with a Southwestern theme to it. Hathaway is a highly styled Gothic pattern. Butterfly Dreams is a very colorful juvenile pattern.

MISSES: "Bayberry and Ming Blossom. Bayberry is an apparel styled floral and just didn't have any response to it. Ming Blossom is also an Asian pattern that Legacy just overpowered."

Faribault Woolen Mills

Alan Woodside, executive vp, sales and marketing

HITS: "Our big hit was a new finishing that takes the scratch out of wool. In that presentation, the Black and White collection was our big winner."

MISSES: "Our miss was a solid-color merino wool throw. It was just overwhelmed by the other items in the collection — the jacquards, the stripes, the plaids — and that's where the placement seems to be going."

Georgia Tufters

David Record, vp, national sales manager

HITS: "Our Joy & Jake products created a lot of excitement, especially the Hibiscus patterned shower curtain. Our new multi-colored bath rug Splash caught most buyers' eyes. 'It is unlike anything I've ever seen in bath,' they told us. And our Colorscapes rug made from soft olefin [proved] to be as fun and whimsical as we predicted."

MISSES: "We developed a collection of olefin and cotton rugs that were piece dyed. Nobody saw the benefit."

Haywin Textile Products

Maureen Granger, vp, merchandising

HITS: "Our FUBU beach line was a huge hit, and our preview of FUBU bedding was also a huge hit. Everyone thought our approach was unique, different and exciting, and the market could use something that is all those things right now. In BeautyRest, in our 250 bed-in-a-bag, Yardley and Garden Bouquet. They are just well styled and the presentation was strong. Our Fruit of the Loom line in bedding is very strong and continues to grow with more placement."

MISSES: "We had a Beautyrest Exceptionale bed that didn't get a lot of attention. I think it just got overlooked."

Hollander Home Fashions

Sandy McNeil, senior vp

HITS: "In our Vendome Collection, Avellino, Queen's Gate and Sorrentino. People just absolutely loved the way we dressed up the higher end beds and people came to look at us for the higher end. From the Park Avenue group, Caviar, Imperial Blossom and South Seas. The coloration, specs and the pricing were right. In our kids collection, Boots and Ladders, Charlotte, Crystal and Libby and Friends. I think people thought the look was terrific, and the packaging and the pricing was terrific, too."

MISSES: "Elise and Harvest. They're promotional jacquards; and people didn't come to us looking for them. They were dismal."

Hometex Designs

Denise Stoughton, director of product design and development

HITS: "In the blinds we had a couple: the paper roll-up shades with the pressed flowers in them and what we called our Malibu collection of shades. They are roll-ups in jute and canvas. And we also had a hit with our bamboo shades. We had lot of interest in those. In our tier curtains, our biggest hit was the Brooksbury Vine pattern, and we also introduced Sonoma in navy and burgundy. Fruit Festival is a tier curtain with an engineered fruit pattern. It's a nice multi-color that's crisp and new. People definitely gravitated toward that."

MISSES: "We had nice basic tab tops with ascot valances that were trimmed very nicely. But nobody was interested in that from us."

Lacey Mills

Tom Etheridge, president

HITS: "The biggest hit for us was our color direction in both bath and accent. [Design director] Karen Townsend did a fantastic job of creating an entire collection of domestic and import products around a palette of seven new accent colors and seven soft new bath hues. Customers raved about Lacey's emphasis on home fashion color trends, which were reflected in a multitude of new natural and synthetic patterns."

MISSES: "A domestically made accent product using a combination of olefin and cotton. We had high expectations, but few customers showed interest. The product used an ivory olefin constant in a unique new construction, but apparently construction could not overcome the tiredness of ivory olefin."

Lawrence Home Fashions

Gail Walfish, merchandise manager

HITS: "Tivoli from the Studio Collection is a large bouquet floral on a paisley ground. Marseilles from our Versailles collection, which is a multi-color jacquard on a beige ground with a lot of embellishments. And Pony Express from our juvenile line is an upscale tweener on a textured cloth."

MISSES: "Monaco from the Versailles collection is a gold and burgundy jacquard. It just didn't get as much as we had hoped for."

Maples Rugs

Arnie Stevens, vp

HITS: "Tropical flowers and leaves using our chromajet printing capabilities."

MISSES: "Two geometric olefin patterns were the weakest link of seven patterns introduced."

Mohawk Home

Jeff Jacobs, vp, marketing

HITS: "Chris Madden's entire line of textiles and rugs were well received — particularly her introductory rug collection and the expanded offering of Interludes silk throws, pillows and quilted coverlets. The entire classification of Wall Décor from our Majestic size of 54" x 80" through our 27" x 27" standard size were also on most must-have lists."

MISSES: "Our miss was in our opening-price-point chenille blanket. The customer reaction was a request for us to offer a trade-up product in this luxury fiber, and we have been following up on that direction."

Newport Home Fashions

Corey Faul, president

HITS: "Our additions to the Country French collection were a huge success. Woven tapestries, toilles and solids, all with various trims, can be mixed together into color stories. This allowed our customers to choose from several patterns that will all coordinate and merchandise together."

MISSES: "Our miss was with a series of novelty wildlife tapestries. The quality of these designs was fabulous; however the price was significantly higher than other tapestries we offer, and that may have affected the responses."

Pendleton Woolen Mills

Bob Christnacht, division manager, blankets and home

HITS: "The big hit was our expanded offerings in merino wool throws. And our Frontier Stripe blanket and the chevron blanket were also big hits. The fashion bedding in general got very positive feedback."

MISSES: "We've been challenged by the sizes in our Glacier Park Series. We offer it as a full size only, and retailers tell us they want us to take it up to a full range of sizes. They like it a lot, but they want it in more than just the one size, and that's held it back."

Pillowtex Corp.

Gretchen Dale, senior vp, design and new product development

HITS: "In Charisma, Cedar Rose and Kaplan. I think the color [worked] and there was a lot of layering and mixture of patterns. In Royal Velvet it would be Kinetics, the contemporary pattern. That was a real pleasant surprise. And the Primavera and Umbria were both outstanding. We had a nice reception to our accent rug line, particularly the wool solids and the wool and cotton rugs."

MISSES: "In Charisma, it was Jaipur. It was pretty much a delivery situation; we couldn't deliver it fast enough. In Royal Velvet, it was Quattro and Zen Blue. They were too edgy."

Regal

Donna Sandy, design director

HITS: "Our Reversible Cotton Rectangle Collection in pre-dyed colors brought great visual style to this classic construction. Four simple looks — a frame, a herringbone, a widthwise stripe, and a floral border — offer simple affordable fashion looks. Most striking was the black coloration."

MISSES: "Our two basic rugs, Tracker and Cameo, were great looking and well-priced, but the stores appear to be overloaded with solid color options."

Sheridan Australia

Louis Smith, manager, marketing and product development

HITS: "Our big hits were Esperance, Toorak and Hayman Island. They reflected the look of Sheridan with a broader commercial appeal."

MISSES: "A design called Pastoral. It looks too much like ice cream sherbet. And who wants ice cream sherbet on their bed?"

S. Lichtenberg & Co.

Amy Hanlon, director, product design

HITS: "Cotton voile, Tristan, Abigail, Embossed Velvet, Paige and Ashley. These were all looks the buyers wanted."

MISSES: "Valencia, Baroque and Samantha. These were just a little simpler, and the more highly embellished looks were much more well received."

The Northwest Company

Stan Mieszkowski, vp, sales & marketing

HITS: "Our superhit was Spongebob Squarepants. Spiderman was also a real big hit. The superheroes look like they're coming back."

MISSES: "Star Wars. There's just no pulse there."

Veratex

Dale Talbert, vp

HITS: "Sequoia, Palacio, Charlotta and Fantasm. Texture is still important, and these had some very good textures. They also had the right color and were a bit more contemporary than we had been in the past. People had looked for that from us and once they started seeing it, it has become successful."

MISSES: "Veronique. People felt that was old Veratex and that we had moved past that look. And Francesca, for the same reasons."

Windham Weavers

Lance Orlick, executive vp

HITS: "The hit from Windham was the Tropical Collection of tapestry place mats, runners and rugs."

MISSES: "The miss was a quilted printed 50" x 60" throw.

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