Quilt quotient makes a comeback

Marvin Lazaro, Jeff Linville, May 21, 2001

Comforters and duvets have long reigned supreme on top of the bedding mountain, but quilts, coverlets and bedspreads are making a comeback to the top of the bed.

Manufacturers have increasingly turned their sights to those products that give consumers more options in how they want their bed to look and feel.

"I think buyers are looking for a different strategy for their stores," said Doug Hartman, vp, design for Haywin Textiles, New York. "Bedspreads and all that other stuff provide a different twist on the stock merchandise everyone is making."

Quilts, long thought of as a more traditional item, have made the transition into the modern and contemporary, said Marjorie Card, design director of Newark, NJ-based Tessile, but at the same time have kept their Old World charm.

According to Card, the appeal of quilts lies in their construction. Consumers, she felt, like the fact that better quilts are handmade and, although it may be a brand new quilt, gives them the feeling of owning a piece of history.

Judy Neu, design director for New York-based Town & Country's decorative pillow line, said consumers are trying to get away from the formality of the industrial world and are looking for things that will warm up a room, such as quilts and quilted items. Many of the comforter and duvet designs available today, she said, are too much alike and "cookie cutter," while the handcrafted designs featured on quilts add texture. Steve Castella, vp, design for New York-based Guilford Home Fashions, believes the detail and texture quilted items have are what set them apart. Card noted that quilts also have the ability to change a room's look.

Although Card and Tom Ferrisi, vp, High Country Linens, Albuquerque, NM, agreed that quilt designs and colors have tended to stay on the more traditional side, Card said more and more companies are introducing quilts that have a more contemporary flavor, whether in its pattern or through its colors.

"Anything nowadays can be done on a quilt," Card said. "You're seeing the traditional and contemporary ends of it now."

Bedspreads and coverlets are also enjoying a resurgence and, with a dozen different styles of bedspreads, Haywin is capitalizing on the movement, as is Guilford, which offers complete bedspread and coverlet programs.

Hartman said bedspreads provide consumers with an affordable, fashionable option for their beds. And since many manufacturers, including Haywin, are making bedspreads that coordinate back to their respective sheeting programs, they can be marketed as a standalone product or as a coordinate, providing retailers with more selling options.

"They do give consumers another option if they don't want to spend as much money on something like a comforter," Hartman said. "Bedspreads are definitely coming back again."

"Buyers have a discerning eye and are looking to step up their line where there's enough to justify the higher price point," said High Country Linens' Ferrisi, which introduced a yarn-dyed, woven jacquard bedspread that is fully reversible and also has a coordinating sham and decorative pillow.

"Bedspreads [and coverlets] cover a wide range of looks and many more options for everyone," said Castella.

Castella said throw and fitted are two of the more popular styles of bedspreads, while the more popular coverlet styles ranged from those with scalloped edging to those with fringes or ruffles. What set coverlets apart from quilts and bedspreads, Castella said, was coverlets could be layered in with more items, a look which is very attractive to consumers right now.

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