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Natori Signs Loftex for Luxury Bath

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, July 28, 2008

With the signing of a licensing agreement with Loftex, Natori Co. plans to make a difference in the luxury bath world.

Known as a perfectionist concerning both quality and fashion, Josie Natori, founder and ceo of her namesake apparel company remarked, "What I'm excited about is that together with Loftex we can make inroads in this business. Together we can explore new possibilities."

From Loftex' perspective, "We don't have any parameters. We 'deconstructed' many of the best towels on the market to achieve our first goal — a huge quality level," said Gretchen Dale, coo of Loftex.

In approaching the project, Dale observed, "We found that so much of the weight [of towels] was in the ground warp of the pile."

James Booth, Natori svp, told HTT, "The first thing we're going to achieve is getting the construction right — the hand, the absorbency. We won't be doing anything with the 'mill' mentality. As for the design flavor, it's too soon to say."

The towel business, Booth continued, "has become a commodity business and we and Loftex will bring a collection directly opposite."

"The beach towels are going to be great," Natori commented, "and we're going to be adventuresome in using the fabric." Overall, she said, "We want to bring something different to the table." She believes that today's new homes have totally changed baths from the traditional approach to more of a home spa with simplicity and comfort the key elements.

As for price points, "We thought first that $29.99 would be the opening price point, but now we think that is too low for what we want to achieve," Dale explained. "We will first design the towel starting with the basic solids and then go crazy — the crazier the better. The challenge is to make the collection stand out on the floor."

While Loftex has grown in this country through product designed for mainstream retailers, it has long been a supplier of luxury towels to designer brands such as Ungara, Valentino and Carrara, Dale pointed out.

The collection, an expansion of Natori Home that includes decorative bedding, sheets, throws, and decorative pillows under license to JLA Home, will mark an expansion of the product mix at Loftex. The bath collection will include a full range of towels, bath mats, beach and cabana products as well as luxury bath robes. "Robes are a totally new business for us, but they are a Josie Natori signature," noted Dale.

The Natori bath collection will debut at the New York Home Fashions Market next March with deliveries scheduled for August/September, said Booth. It will be targeted to better department stores, luxury linen catalogs and designer home textiles specialty stores. All products will be warehoused in the United States with a 24-hour delivery program.

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