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Springs: size matters but design's the thing

Ft. Mill, SC — Springs Industries has swallowed a smorgasbord of new businesses since taking the company private in fall 2001. And, at the New York Home Textiles Market later this month, it intends to show that it has now digested every course of the meal.

"The goal last market was to say: 'We've purchased all of these businesses — we're huge. We're the largest manufacturer,'" said Nancy Webster, senior vp, creative development. "This time, we're emphasizing our design expertise across all categories. The whole presentation is going to be very friendly to our customer."

The design team has laid out six lifestyle directions and will present product from every category under a particular thematic umbrella, according to Gary Filippone, vp of design. The directions — cosmopolitan, exotic, heirloom, urban, elements and vintage — will encompass window, rugs, bath, bed-in-a-bag, solid-color sheets and towels, comforter sets, quilts, and Artistique, the company's line of embroidered bed-in-a-bag.

"We've kept the lifestyles separate. But you'll notice that the lifestyles are compatible with one another, and some of the individual designs bridge lifestyles," Filippone told HTT.

Springs has decided not to go forward with Craftique, its pieced bedding line using apparel fabrics.

"We tried it for two markets," Webster said. "Where we use the technique now, it will simply be integrated into other lines."

Springs also will introduce a new category in bed-in-a-bag: print on textured ground with the 280-count sheet coordinate in step-up pricing of $149/$179/ $199. Previously, Springs had printed on a flat weave and tucked a 250-count sheet into the package.

"Textured cloth really helps us define ourselves within the print category," Webster said.

In a branding shift, Springs is putting a new design spin on the Burlington label. When Springs showed the brand in fall 2002 — its first market after acquiring the Burlington House bedding and window business — the mill positioned Burlington as a traditional line. Now it is being interpreted across the six lifestyles, although its construction remains largely woven and it is most often packaged in comforter sets.

"We're trying to broaden Burlington's image," Webster said. "And, although people always consider Burlington as traditional, when you look back at its history, some of Burlington's best-selling patterns have been contemporary."

Springs is also putting the finishing touches on its new Court of Versailles licensed line, which moved to the mill earlier this year after 20 years at Pillowtex. Springs is keeping the details under wraps until market, but Webster said the look will shift significantly.

"We're using the history of Versailles but making it very today in production. It's still very celebration-oriented, and certainly white and ivory will be covered. But we're appealing to more tastes and making it more current," she said.

Versailles is being referred to in-house as Springs' "seventh lifestyle," and the company will leverage its multiple product categories to expand the license beyond its traditional bedding orientation.

Within the mill's six major lifestyle directions for market, exotic will present the largest collection of product.

"So many retailers are asking for this type of look, all the way from the high end to the mass market merchants," Webster said.

Exotic melds a variety of global influences — Russian, South American, Mongolian, Nepalese and Native American among them.

Elements is influenced by organic materials and textures such as bark cloth and slub linen, with colors that lean toward neutral.

Other design directions include:

  • Cosmopolitan: Constructed in a couture style, this direction riffs on apparel trends, with colors that are clean and vibrant.

  • Urban: Sleek, graphic and clean, this is a downtown lifestyle, with dark, saturated colors.

  • Heirloom: Handsome, warm and subtly masculine, this fashion group is inspired by old homes and classic design elements.

  • Vintage: The feminine counterpoint to Heirloom, this design collection nods in the direction of worn antiques, eclectic living and charming decors.

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