Faux sisal seen as viable alternative
By Cecile B. Corral -- Home Textiles Today, 11/12/2001 12:00:00 AM
NEW YORK —
Buyers and vendors are saying that the response at retail to faux sisal has been very favorable, citing the obvious economic advantages and practicality of the look.
According to suppliers, faux sisal gives customers a clean, natural look they seek for their homes. But perhaps more importantly, it also gives them freedom — faux sisal is machine washable and in many cases stain-resistant.
Charles Boyter, bath and basic bedding buyer for Burlington, NJ-based Luxury Linens, vouches for faux sisal.
"Faux sisal is proving to be a good business," Boyter told HTT. "It's machine-washable and prices are more competitive. Besides, at the mass level the customer doesn't understand the natural fiber concept anyway. She is looking for a look, not a fiber."
Clearly understanding that point is Greensboro, NC-based Bacova Guild Ltd., which offered both real and faux sisal rugs at the October market. While its imitation sisal collection, titled Textured Weave, "flew off our shelves," said Charles Bowers, president, the genuine sisal "was a real miss for us."
The explanation for the rift in response, he said, is obvious. "Textured Weave is more affordable and more practical than real sisal," Bowers added. "It's made to look like sisal — but in fact it's made of polypropylene, it's machine washable and it's stain resistant."
Bacova's Textured Weave collection retails at $29.99 for a 32" x 48".
Sculpting is the tack Scottsboro, AL-based Maples Rugs took for its new olefin faux sisal collection of rugs titled Soft Olefin.
"We also use a high-low loop construction [like our competition], but we've made more patterns," said Arnie Stevens, vp. Soft Olefin rugs retail from $19.99 for a 21" x 34" to $100 for a 5' x 8'. Olefin is also the faux sisal construction of choice for Troy, NC-based Capel Inc., which introduced its new Bob Timberlake collection of four fabric bordered olefin sisal looks — all retailing for around $300. Capel's Sausalito collection is also olefin sisal and features 4-inch mitered, micro-suede fabric borders available in four colorways, each retailing for about $220 for a 5' x 7' 8".
At a more competitive price point are Capel's Hatteras and Lighthouse collection, which combine sisal-looks — 25 percent wool yarns with brightly-colored cotton chenille stripes to give a sisal texture. Both retail for $45 for a 2' x 3'.
For its kitchen offerings, New York-based Glenoit Corp. has also taken the traditional sisal look and "recreated it in polypropylene to make neutral and elegant rugs," said Michael McCullough, executive vp, consumer products division.
Glenoit first introduced a faux sisal line last year in solid colors. "We took a version of sisal and treated it with polypropylene," McCullough said, "and it leapt."
For the market in October, Glenoit built on that success and introduced new striped designs as well as over-sized rugs. Cartersville, GA-based Lacey Mills was "pleasantly surprised" when it set out to produce its Studio collection made of nylon and olefin and discovered a sisal-looking product, said Karen Townsend, design director.
"Sisal has a neutral quality that is consistent," she said. "With all the hardwood and ceramic flooring popping up in homes these days, people are looking for more differentiated product that is still neutral. Our Studio collection looks natural because it looks like sisal, but it's washable, so it's a very comfortable product."
Soon to be jumping on the faux sisal bandwagon is Dalton, GA-based Shaw Rugs, which didn't show new faux or real sisal rugs at the New York Home Textiles market in October, but will have some of both for the Atlanta market in January, said Kimberly Barta, brand manager.
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