• Jennifer Marks

Sizing Up the Quilt Category

NEW YORK - The quilt category is one that runs hot and cold, every decade or so surging into the forefront of alternate top-of bed offerings only to be sent back to its corner as cheaper, cut-rate product floods the market.
     After a small market share increase in 2011, many quilt manufacturers contacted by HTT expect modest, single-digit growth for the category at retail this year. Some see coverlets becoming more important, relatively speaking, while other see opportunity in bedspreads - once the staple top-of-bed covering in American homes.
     Suppliers agree that the current health of the quilt category is dependent not upon a particular channel or price point but on individual retail accounts. Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl's and Macy's were cited by many as quilt boosters. The merchandising flux at JCPenney, which is overhauling its broad strategy, has it pulling back on the category at the moment. Some regional department stores are warming up, while mass merchants are all over the map.
     "It depends on what customer you're talking about. There are those that really get it. I think it's one of the best values in top of bed," said Greg Williams, vp of sales and business development, Nostalgia Home Fashions. "They're looking at it as an alternative top of bed piece, an alternative fashion piece."
     "If you look at the category in the traditional way, quilts are in a down cycle. But I have to add very quickly that I mean traditional designs, constructions and patterns," said Mark Grand, chief operating officer of Peking Handicraft. "We're also seeing more transitional or modern quilts taking up a good portion of the sales. Part of it is aesthetic and part of it is economic."
     At Venus Home Fashions, general manager Shiv Shankaran offered: "Pricing on quilts is suppressed like bedding and all other home products. A more traditional look quilt is usually made with 100% cotton fabric with cotton fill and washed to give it a puckered, worn look. This adds to the cost. For our price-sensitive customers, we tend to offer cotton/poly blended fabrics with poly fiber fill and without the wash."
     Mytex sees sets and mini-sets as the way forward.
     "First of all, it's a bigger ticket and retailers would rather sell X-plus dollars - and there's a little bit better margin for the retailer in sets," said Art Siegel, who runs the company's U.S. sales operation.
     For Alok, quilts are for the mass market while more upscale channels have shown a preference for coverlets.
     "A handmade look and prints seems dominant growth areas," said Arun Agarwal, president.

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HTT November 2017 cover

See the November 2017 issue of Home Textiles Today. In this issue, we look at Complex Colors, Complex Times--Trend forecasters and interior designers weigh in on 2018 palettes and motifs.  Other articles include: Data: Exclusive HTT soft window research; Innovation: Material Changes conference preview; Country report: India invests in the future and Fabrics: Showtime preview.  See details!