Springs is busting out all over
By Staff -- Home Textiles Today, 9/22/2003 12:00:00 AM
AT THE NEW YORK MARKET —
Mere brand presentations are just too plebeian. Groupings by construction? Simply passé. Rather, Springs is displaying new products thematically — by lifestyle or palette or technology — whether in rugs, window treatments, bath, bedding or utility.
If Springs Industries' earlier mission was to show how well it had digested its many acquisitions, its strategy this market appears to be demonstrating how far it can explode offerings from each business unit.
In broader terms, Springs' message is one of resourcefulness. Displays mingling fabrications are meant to underscore its reach abroad — particularly sourcing through the Springs China division — as well as domestically.
Emblematic of that shift is the presentation taking place this market in the rug division, which bulked up considerably with the 2002 acquisition of Beaulieu Rugs. Collections are grouped by color story, mingling various constructions among the domestically produced and imported.
"We're trying to make the point that we can give retailers six different constructions for the price point — whatever the price point," said Tina Gunter, the division's director of merchandising.
So handmades and machine-mades, embroidered chenilles, looped chenilles, prints, tufteds, cottons, rayons, polypropylenes and acyrilics make their appearance en masse, of course mentioning — but not dwelling on — their structures. It's the bigger story — the really compelling story — that must be told first.
The division is also pushing accent rugs — previously just 5 percent of Beaulieu's line, which traditionally tilted toward area rugs. Beaulieu also is debuting a broad assortment of doormats in a variety of constructions, including cotton, rubber, coir, coconut and polypropylene. Unique constructions include the stuffed cotton quilt mat, which is woven like a patchwork double cloth, then filled with cotton. A 21" x 34" retails for $29.99.
Its licensed Waverly bath business is also being expanded through the acquisition earlier this year of Oxford Bath, previously a Springs licensee. Springs currently produces Waverly Garden bedding and bath exclusively for Target stores as well as an exclusive Waverly-branded collection for specialty stores. Oxford inked a deal late last year to produce an open line of shower curtains, bath rugs and bath accessories based on Waverly designs.
Introductions this market include wood accessories, chenille rugs, printed rugs, cotton duck shower curtains, embroidered towels, jacquard towels and sateen shower hook ribbons.
In the open Oxford line, Springs is sticking with the whimsical and novelty looks Oxford is known for — thus expanding its bath design portfolio beyond fashion and bread-and-butter motifs. Among the offerings, a brightly colored New York skyline set (that might easily spin off other city-specific sets), and a glow-in-the-dark curtain featuring muted, impressionistic-style fireflies.
Springs' new Owen Blanket division — the result of its acquisition of blanket Owen Manufacturing last spring — is taking aim at the flocked blanket category currently owned by rival WestPoint Stevens' venerable Vellux brand.
Wamsutta SofTouch is designed to be denser and thicker, constructed with what Springs asserts is a finer flock for a richer hand. The line is debuting in 11 colors, including both deeps and pastels, at twin pricing that starts from $14.99 to $19.99. A special packaging flap will allow consumers to slip a hand into the bag to feel the product. A second flocked line will be introduced under the Owen brand as WonderTouch.
Wamsutta branded blankets, which Owen had previously produced under license, continue to push price points with finer constructions. New this market is the Touch of Silk blanket, with 5 percent silk in the blend and a $79.99 retail on twin. Other new introductions include a ring-spun cotton blanket, a ring-spun Egyptian cotton blanket, a ring-spun pima cotton blanket, and a reversible acrylic with a waffle-weave construction on one side and a bushed face on the other.
Also new are juvenile blankets coordinating back to licensed bedding designs in Springs' juvenile bedding division. Constructions include non-wovens, prints, poly fleece and high-pile throws. To emphasize its broad blanket coverage for the young set, Springs is showing its infant blanket assortment in an area of the showroom that serves as a segue between the juvenile and blanket departments.
Springs has picked up the Tommy Hilfiger basic bedding license previously held by Pillowtex. In addition to carrying forward the existing line of product, Springs is adding four new patterns in 233-count, down-filled comforters and pillows: two plaids, a floral and a surf stripe.
Elsewhere in utilities, Springs has brought together several innovative product lines under the umbrella "The Smart Comfort Collection."
CoolMax employs ready-to-wear fabric that wicks perspiration away from the body. Amicor Pure is an anti-allergen fiber employing technology used in hospital bedding. EvenTemp bedding, being introduced under the Wamsutta brand, is constructed with Adaptive Comfort technology from Outlast, a fabrication technique used in ski wear that absorbs excess body heat until the body is cooled, then releases it to maintain an even temperature. A new Teflon-enhanced line resists moisture and stains.
"Everything here is already being used in apparel," said Randy Spence, president of basic bedding. "Instead of playing the thread-count game, we're using technology to appeal to the consumer."
But the division is nonetheless moving in on the high-count arena as well and has pulled together its upper-end constructions of utility bedding under a new label — the Wamsutta Hotel Collection. Constructions include a 315-count cotton, a 430-count 50/50 cotton/silk (standard sleep pillow: $89.99) and a 500-count sateen.
Order in the Court
First launched during last April's market with several sumptuous top-of-bedding offerings, Springs is now focused on adding layers to its top-of-the-line Court of Versailles luxury collection. That includes expanding colorways in the core Therese burnout shower curtain as well as introducing a "hyper-spun" Supima bath towel.
The inaugural pieces of the debut collection will begin shipping in spring '04, and the company "has placed a good portion of the first line," said Filippone.
The goal with the second collection is to "keep it fresh and far less predictable than it had been in past years," he added.
The mill has also expanded the color range of the Dubarry pleated silk bedskirts. The Dubarry silk quilts will add three new reversible color combinations — French blue/steel blue, rose/cameo and platinum crystal/black pearl — for a total of six. Both are intended to become Versailles staples.
Along with a new line of throws with bugle beads in vermicelli stitching (50" x 60" at a $159 retail), Spring is forwarding skus that can stand alone as well as coordinate back into bedding collections.
New silk top of bed designs include Colbert, an embroidered and pieced construction silk duvet that introduces Versailles' "new level of color" — sage, tobacco and thyme. "It has the same level of detail as traditional Versailles, but with a more modern quality," Filippone said.
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