Towels Soak Up Performance

Jill Rowen, January 8, 2014

Rung-spun cotton towels from The Turkish Towel CompanyRung-spun cotton towels from The Turkish Towel Company feature sculpted dobbies to enhance value and fashionability.
Towels with quick-dry, antibacterial and other performance properties are becoming a value-add go-to at retail, with makers jockeying for position to deliver the right price/value proposition to the marketplace.
     "We know that consumers are looking for more value. They want a product that lasts," said Barton Brass, president, The Turkish Towel Company "For towels this translates to seams that don't fray, and towels that can withstand daily use and washing.
     "We always use ring-spun cotton, because it yields the softest, most durable towels. It's made by tightly twisting long and short threads together to create the strongest, smoothest yarn possible. All our towels are double-stitched along the lengths to avoid fraying and for added stability."
     "Customers have been liking soft towels in the recent orders, and the trend is continuing," said PK Markanday, president/ceo, Trident Group. "We find that towels made from zero twist, Air Rich (our patented technology) and low twist yarns are gaining around in every season. Quick dry is being sold by almost every retailer as one of the most popular functional towel."
     For Kassatex Fine Linens, its Paradiso collection is among those with zero twist constructions for quick dry performance in 350 and 500 GSM. According to Ernesto Khoudari, ceo, the key is in making the product efficiently, in a lower weight, but still delivering a soft and plush hand.
     For the end consumer it may not be an all or nothing proposition.
     "Consumers want versatility. So, while they might opt for a heavier 700 GSM towel for the master bathroom, they may prefer a towel that is made of rayon from bamboo, which is incredibly soft but also has anti-bacterial qualities in their guest or children's bathrooms," said Brass. "We introduced our Bamboo Collection in 2013 as well as a hammam-style Fouta/Peshtemal towel in 2013. It's lightweight, great for travelling and it can double as a post-swim sarong on the beach. It's been very popular."
     According to Brass, the focus on healthy lifestyles and sustainability is translating into organic linens to gain traction. He noted that its own facility is GOT (Global Organic Textile) certified.
Mareillies by KassatexMareillies by Kassatex is a zero-twist, quick dry textured towel made in Portugal.

     "We see a lot of new programs having features like benzoyl oxide proof, fade resistant, cosmetic friendly and anti-bacterial being sold well in the market," explained Markanday. "In our opinion, the customer has a definite liking for fade resist type of towels. We may see more programs with these attributes in the coming years."
     The question at the end of the day is always about consumers' willingness to pay for all these features. The answer may depend on the retail tier.
     "Yes, definitely," noted Brass. "As we supply the hospitality industry, people get to try our towels and robes out in boutique hotels and inns. I think they want to bring that same hotel/retreat feeling into their own homes. A quality towel feels different. It's denser, softer and more luxurious. There's been a return to quality, as people want to buy less and buy better."
     "While consumers are very price sensitive to a product like towels we feel that, depending upon the store format, they are reacting to the additional price for value added properties, said Markanday. "Mass merchants may not be able to derive extra price for the value added properties and features, but departmental stores are sometime able to derive slightly extra price with such properties."
     According to Khoudari, the balancing act is in providing the always expected value at a price. "They want to be able to have a beautiful hand and still have price value in the product," noted Khoudari.
The original construction of Turkish towelsThe original construction of Turkish towels – this collection from The Turkish Towel Company – is a light-weight woven cotton rather than a terry weave.

     According Towellers Ltd., the delivery system is also a factor. Robert Horowitz, vp, noted that it may be harder to explain all the towel features on a retail shelf, but the company has done very well in a TV format, where a home shopping host can explain the performance in detail.
     For instance, the visual of its towels - featuring the Ultrasorb-finishing technique - in which the product is absorbing a stream of water poured on top is more to the point than any worded description. The company has also found success with a cotton/microfiber blend.
     "We only dye the microfiber, this gives it an attractive heather look, but more importantly, it makes it bleach and benzoyl peroxide resistant," he said.
     As an online marketer, Brass noted that The Turkish Towel Company also believes that easy access and social media reviews and comments are a growing component in its own and the category's future for buying towels.

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