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Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, January 28, 2008

Well, we all can take a deep breath and heave a great sigh of relief.

The thread count wars are officially over.

A confluence of recent events has put the age-old controversy about what constitutes a legitimate thread count in the world of sheets. This is a subject that hasn't raised its controversial head in the other product area — apparel — where "soft and silky against the skin" is as important a quality as it is in bedding.

Paul Hooker, the head of Sferra, was quoted by The New York Times in an interview earlier this month to dramatic effect as supposedly saying, "Thread count is so last century. It really means nothing."

Now that Paul has enunciated what many of us have known for eons, we can move on to the newer of the turf verbiage wars — eco-friendly, sustainable and green. But more on these in another column.

The declaration of independence from the thread count nonsense followed a week when the subject gained national notoriety. Can anyone imagine anything more ludicrous than thread count fiascos becoming almost as much a matter of titters as the latest crash of a Hollywood celebutante?

The issue that brought everything to a head was the lawsuit against Bed Bath & Beyond in a case that the retail giant settled — but simultaneously got the lion's share of publicity that the super-silent retailer probably is still quivering about.

From the New York Post that thrives on "scandals" like this, to the highly sophisticated New Yorker, the travails of the poor customer who brought the class-action lawsuit have been relived in minute detail. It seems that "two-ply" vs. "single-ply" was the sticking point in the thread count scenario, and the BBB folks lost that battle — as did the rest of the marketplace with all the attendant hoopla.

And as is typically the case, the lawyers were the true winners, garnering reported fees of nearly $300,000 — far more than the plaintiff, who should get $2,500, and those who purchased multi-ply bedding products from the BBB folks from August 2000 to Nov. 9, 2007 and can receive either refunds or discount certificates of some 20% — ironically an amount that is a typical BBB offer.

After lo, these many years of thread stuff, let's move on to the refreshing controversy about saving the planet.

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