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Solid-Color Preview: Suppliers look to offer clearer color picture

New York — Every market brings changes, and this October looks to be no different.

Many of the major mills elected to ramp up the thread counts on their sheeting again, hoping to provide more differentiation between upper and middle tier brands. And in the never-ending quest to find the "right" colors for their solid-color sheeting collections, the days of exotic-sounding names with no meaning to the average consumer have seemingly been replaced with names that evoke cleaner images and, more importantly, the way the color actually looks.

Perhaps making the most significant changes to its solid-color line is the Kannapolis, NC-based Pillowtex Corp. After operating under Chapter 11 protection for almost a year, the major mill hopes to inject some new life into its line with new introductions.

The brand new Royal Velvet Intrigue sheet will take the spotlight at the fall market. Introduced under the Royal Velvet umbrella, the sheeting will feature a 300-count dobby weave construction with surface texture. Imported from Italy, 10 colors will be offered; snow, cornsilk, crème, menthe, surf, cocoa, elm, adobe, heather and denim.

The Royal Velvet 275 line will enjoy an injection of Americana-theme colors. Canvas, salsa, pacific, Central Park and azalea make their respective forays into Pillowtex's solid-color world.

"The colors don't conflict with the existing palette and are a little more upscale," said Gretchen Dale, senior vp, design and new product development for Pillowtex.

Two major changes will also be made to the company's Charisma line of sheeting. The company will be replacing the 310-count Charisma line with a new 360-count construction. Also being phased out is the Charisma Select 360-line, which will be stepped up to a more luxurious 420-count.

The Select line will continue with its white and ivory colorways, while Charisma will be bolstered with the addition of a woven stripe and woven dot with slightly deeper color introductions of flax, truffle, henna and twilight. Significant for the consumer will be the changes in retail price point for Select, which may go up to as much as $20 a sheet. Charisma's price points will not change.

"This is a big move for us. A huge move," Dale said. "There's a lot of pressure from all the imports coming in and there has been a lot of bantering about thread counts these days. So, we decided to make these changes and we think they'll be verysuccessful."

In considering the new, higher thread counts and changes made to all three lines, she said, "It's a natural evolution that things go through."

Offering perhaps the broadest range of new colors is the Fort Mill, SC-based Springs, which took a different tact from its counterparts.

"It's more families of colors is the way we're looking at it at this point," said Nancy Webster, vp, creative development. "Colors are becoming more casted, so there's a much larger variety this market."

For its 320-count Supima program, Webster said the major mill had gotten many requests for more saturation of color from consumers, which gave Springs the opportunity to go into different colors for the collection.

The ever-popular white and ivory will continue, but joining those are suede, honey, coral, robin, basil, sable and amethyst. A stripe, jacquard filigree and circle pattern, all woven, will also be making their collective debuts this market.

Springs' 250-count Sateen line has been retired and subsequently replaced by a 300-count Sateen program, titled Palace. The step up was taken to meet the growing demand for more luxurious sheeting. A brand new palette of 20 colors will also be unveiled for the collection: mica, dawn, ivory, rattan, citron, iris, cloud, surf, rose, white, canvas, pewter, coffee, spice, concorde, scarlet, teal, indigo, palm and raven will all bow.

Also debuting this market under the Palace name will be a stripe pattern in six colors and a diamond pattern, also in six colors. Both will coordinate with outer bed programs already in place.

"These are really good, saleable colors," Webster said. "It's a well-rounded palette with mass appeal to all different styles of decor."

Not to be left out are the 250-count Sensuous palette, 250-count Egyptian palette and 250-blend Soft 'n Easy palette, which have 10 new colors being introduced between the three of them.

Sensuous will enjoy the addition of wheat to its earthen palette of milk, oatmeal, tea leaf, rain mist, mica, sandlewood, currant, espresso and lava rock, while ocean mist, coral, orchid and moss are all new for the Egyptian line. For the Soft 'n Easy line, flamingo, lemon, mango, grape and raspberry take the opening day's bow.

"The higher the count, the softer, more veiled appearance palettes have," Webster said. "The lower the count, the brighter, more trend-oriented colors are there which we change more often."

WestPoint Stevens joins the colorful fray with 10 new colors for its newest license rollout, Designer's Guild. The 250-count cotton solid-color sheeting for the licensed collection will traverse the rainbow with ocean, chalk, leaf, papaya, viola, delphinium, peony, vanilla, crocus and kiwi. The sheeting, which will feature a two-tone, grosgrain trim, will be available both as open stock and sheet sets.

The major mill's core sheeting will also enjoy a new influx of color as 24 new shades are added to the company's Grand Patrician and Martex lines.

For the Grand Patrician 310-count, 60/40 Egyptian/ polyester blend sheets and the Grand Patrician 310-count 100 percent Egyptian cotton sheets white, almond, aloe, pool, orchid, rose, cornsilk, leaf, rain, arctic, dusty plum, peony, soft gold, sesame, julep, blue moon, red plum and raspberry will all bow this market.

For WestPoint's Martex 275-count pima/polyester sheet, white, ecru, sesame, slate green, rain, straw, olive, mineral, earth, purple dusk, red clay and navy smoke will enter the color war.

Dan River's Alexander Julian Watercolors line will see the additions of cashew, hibiscus, citrine and crocus to its solid-color palette. Each of the colors will also be layered in with the Julian line of yarn dyes and prints. According to Allison Rearer, product manager for the Danville, VA-based mill, cashew gives the line a much needed neutral, while the citrine addresses the importance of yellows and greens. Hibiscus and crocus, Rearer said, answer the trend towards purples and lilacs.

"From a fashion trend, I think they're [the new colors] very timely and address the importance of color for a stand-alone collection," said Rearer. "These colors are nice to layer in, and they give you more of a multi-color story as part of a complete bedding story."

The Atlanta-based Design Works, formerly the adult bedding division of Crown Crafts, will introduce a new "natural finishing" process to its solid-color sheeting this market that results in a silkier hand and better draping, according to Marcia Brandwein, director of design.

The mill also is expanding on its Candlelights 310 sateen sheeting program as well as adding another shade in the Royalty 410 that previewed last market.

"We will continue to push the envelope forward in both thread count and styling," said Glen Giordano, director of corporate sales and merchandising.

This market will see the introduction of Candlelights Check, a jacquard solid available in olive, eggplant, silver and sandstone. Each tone coordinates back to at least one of Royal Sateen's top-of-bed introductions, sometimes more, and can be marketed as the second set of sheets to layer into the bedding.

For the Candlelights Constantine jacquard sheeting program introduced last market, three colors have been added. White, lacquer and black join the previous palette of citrine and ecru.

And in Royalty, the 410-count sheet introduced last market in sand, Royal Sateen has added a pristine white.

In terms of pricing, Giordano said the company "will be looking at increasing the promotional activity."

The Davidson Cotton Company, based in Charlotte, NC, is bowing many new colors for its Joseph Abboud licensed collection. The manufacturer's 380-count signature logo solid sheet will introduce white, cream, gold, burgundy, black, silver, charcoal, espresso, cobalt mist, gobelin gray, celadon, linen, aubergine and stone. The solid stripe sheet of the same thread count will see white, cream, charcoal, espresso, apricot, cobalt mist, gobelin gray, celadon, gold, burgundy and stone added, while the 200-count, solid floral jacquard will see cream, apricot, celadon, cobalt mist, stone and silver added.

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