13757 Fri, 02/08/2008 - 5:48pm
By David Gill
NEW YORK–The impact of consumers’ desire for environmentally friendly products goes beyond the use of materials in manufacturing and packaging, as many of the decorative-bedding product introductions at this week’s New York Home Textiles Market will demonstrate.
Consumers’ growing eco-friendliness is also reflected in the design of these products. Many of the bed ensembles and decorative top-of-the-bed items that will be unveiled this week feature designs and colors that are drawn from the environment.
One example of this trend comes from a new division debuting from Under the Canopy, called, simply, Canopy. This new division is coming to market with several ensembles that take the company’s design, which previously had concentrated on solid colors, to new levels. One of these is Sage Leaf, a simple leaf pattern on green and white.
“My feeling is there are a lot of consumers at the luxury level that would like to be buying something that’s organic and sustainable,” said Barbara Cavanaugh, chief executive officer of Under the Canopy. “I think they like the feeling that they are helping farmers around the world convert to organic farming. That consumer won’t have any issue with the price points, either.” Prices for Canopy duvet covers range from $298 to $435 at retail.
The popularity of looks from nature is also the potential selling point behind Peaceful Petal, an ensemble that DWI Holdings is introducing this week under its licensed Beautiful Basics label from designer Barbara Barry.
“Peaceful Petal’s serene floral, in luminous sateen, evokes the feeling of a gentle breeze,” Barry said of the pattern. “Small self-piping on the sham and rectangular pillow completes the tranquil look.”
The trend of the environment and sustainability, in both design and materials, “is one of the biggest things our customers are asking for,” said Carol Antone, creative director of Peking Handicraft. “It can be in the use of organic products and in the packaging, in which you use less packaging and/or cardboard instead of plastic. Every major customer we have is asking us for that sort of thing.”
Much of the popularity of this trend comes from the fact that younger consumers have become more important as a customer base. “The younger the consumer, the more concern there is for the environment,” Antone said. “They grew up with this. Also, it’s in the fact that the dot-coms have a younger customer demographic, and they’ve become huge for us compared to where they were years ago.”
At the higher end in decorative bedding, opulence remains a highly saleable design trend—but even here, the trend toward eco-friendly has emerged. Notable examples include a number of ensembles from Bella Notte Linens that use “low-impact, sustainable fabrics,” said Judy White, Bella Notte’s president. These ensembles use some of the opulent old design standards, including jacquards that blend hemp and organic cotton, along with cotton sateen in the sheets.
Environmentally friendly materials are used in the new Joseph Abboud bedding collection from United Feather & Down. Encompassing comforters, sheet sets, duvet covers, blankets and decorative accessories, the new launches are made with organic cotton, silk, wool and linen.
“By offering a collection made with natural fibers, we are being environmentally conscious while offering the style, luxury and comfort that our consumers demand,” said Bob Hickman, senior vice president of sales and marketing for United Feather.
Among some of the more notable developments this week is Ellery Homestyles’ introduction of products in the William & Mary bedding line for Colonial Williamsburg. These include two matelasse bedding looks: Davenport is available in cream-chocolate and blue colorations, which is designed to layer with the Fleur de Liberte bed ensemble; and Bruton comes in ivory, white, vermilion, courthouse green, and gold dust.
Pacific Coast Feather is extending its licensed Sealy Best Fit Sheet program with eight new colors. The new shades layer into the company’s existing collection by offering new options in the pastel, midtone and jewel-tone palettes.
The all-natural top-of-the-bed market will welcome one of baseball’s most recognizable celebrities this week. Cal Ripken Jr., the Hall of Fame player, has lent his name to a line of 100 percent wool underlays and duvet covers from Australia-based Sleep and Dream. The line is being positioned as products that are not only comfortable, but also aid in the quality of sleep by controlling the user’s temperature and humidity throughout the night.
Regarding the decorative-bedding business for 2008, Antone said, “I think the big issue is the dollar. It’s not so much that the stores are pushing any more on price; that’s always been an issue. But now, with the weaker dollar, it’s tougher to do business. It forces us to trim as much cost as we can. It’s affecting all of the manufacturers. Everybody has to deal with this.”