Trend Report - April 2014

What’s In A Name?
By Wanda Jankowski

Jill Rosenwald At Surya Bjorn by Jill Rosenwald is hand-knotted in India with 100 percent jute.
Barclay Butera At Nourison Maze is a modern, geometric design from the Barclay Butera Collection.
Snuggle Home™ At Jeffco Fibres The Snuggle Home™ line includes Dual Deluxe gel memory foam and fiber pillows.
Jessica Simpson At 1888 Mills The Jessica Simpson Bath Collection debuted in March in the 1888 Mills New York showroom (shown). The signage atop the towels on the table at right reveals that Jessica Simpson was born and raised in Texas and since those roots are important to her, the towels are made in the U.S. with homegrown Texas 100 percent ring spun cotton. At left in the image is a new design from the Jessica Simpson fashion bedding line launched in 2013 by Peking Handicraft Inc.
Sakroots At Jay Franco and Sons The Sak Brand Group has partnered with Jay Franco and Sons, Inc. to license the Sakroots brand and its proprietary prints for its first-ever home collection, which includes bath, beach and hand towels, shower curtains, bath accessories, comforters, sheets, throw and decorative pillows using Sakroots original artists prints. Available to consumers in Spring 2015, the items are targeted for dorm and first apartment dwellers.
ANGELO:HOME At Jeffco Fibres The angelo:HOME line includes the Sullivan 12-inch memory foam mattress.
Jessica McClintock At Alok International The new Romantic Lace is a bordered print in black and white that features a lace design embodying the romance and sophisticated style of the renowned fashion designer.
Bob Mackie At KAS Rugs Shown are two of 18 designs that launched in the Bob Mackie Collection during High Point Market in April 2014. KAS plans to debut another licensed collection at the Las Vegas Market in July 2014: Donny Osmond Home.

Jessica McClintock At Alok International The new Romantic Lace is a bordered print in black and white that features a lace design embodying the romance and sophisticated style of the renowned fashion designer.
Clairebella by Kathy Denness At Victoria Classics Clairebella by Kathy Denness features bold geometric designs with appeal for the back-to-college girl as well as her mother. In addition to bedding, Victoria Classics will also offer bath and window treatments products for the line.
Kathy Ireland At Nourison The Antiquities design from Kathy Ireland Home offers the beauty of intricate, traditional detailing.
 

Making It Beautiful Together: Pedersen & Softline

Monica Pedersen signing her book, Make It Beautiful: Designs and Ideas for Entertaining at Home, at the LDB Interior Textiles/295 Fifth Avenue N.Y. Market party held on March 24, 2014 (see p. 8 for details). At left are displays of the Monica Pedersen Make It Beautiful Home Collection from the event. Above right is a close-up look at the Ada decorative pillow from the collection, a modern geometric jacquard available in three colors and also as drapery.

About a year ago, Jason and Rodney Carr, president and director of sales, respectively, Softline Home Fashions, saw interior designer and tv personality, Monica Pedersen, make a presentation at a trade event in Las Vegas. “She seemed personable, smart and outgoing,” says Jason. The brothers were impressed as Pedersen overwhelmed the audience of about 300 people with her keen observations about home textiles and design.
“Choosing a license is tricky,” says Jason. “We felt that Monica seemed like the right match for Softline.”

“She understands design, trends, the customer base and the capabilities of the manufacturer,” says Rodney.
Pedersen worked for years as an interior designer before being called eight years ago to audition for HGTV. Thus began a television career in which she has been featured in HGTV’s “Designed To Sell,” “Bang For Your Buck,” “Dream Home Giveaway” and “House Hunters Great Escapes.” She now graces the airwaves as a judge on the prime time NBC tv series, “American Dream Builders.”

Working on television design shows has made her adept at knowing what appeals to the masses. Her designs are updated traditional and transitional in style, and her products are “for the customers who are looking to bring a designer look to their homes,” Pedersen explains.

And so the “firsts” began: The Monica Pedersen Make It Beautiful Home Collection is the first licensed line for Softline and for Pedersen. The line includes four collections—West Loop, Del Mar, Lincoln Park and Gold Coast—in fabric, ready-made curtains and decorative pillows.

“The packaging is high quality—the zipper pulls, gauge of the plastic, the graphics—to represent what both Monica and Softline stand for,” says Rodney.

“The products are priced to be affordable for virtually everyone,” says Jason, noting draperies, for example, range from $29 to $79 per panel.

A second line called MP Studios by Softline with offerings at lower price points is slated for development down the road.

 
Kathy Davis At Creative Bath In the Flutterby ensemble, Kathy Davis combines colorful butterly artwork with inspiring quotations. The shower curtain is 100 percent polyester, the ceramic accessories are adorned with decals in a low-luster glaze, and the rug and embellished towels (not shown) are cotton.

Details on launches in today’s branding bonanza with supplier insights into navigating licensed lines

Licensed lines seem to be flooding the marketplace these days, originating from a variety of sources inside and outside the home design field. To help you navigate through today’s branding bonanza, suppliers share their experiences with licensed lines to shed light on why brands are so important to consumers today and what makes for brand success.

Brand Demand

“Based on the growth of the e-commerce business, there is a heightened level of consumer awareness of brand,” says Julie Rosenblum, executive director of licensing, Nourison. “As well, in brick and mortar stores, retailers are designating the category more within their merchandising plans.”

In many product categories, it’s the trust factor that keeps customers coming back to brands. “The proliferation of products and information on the internet coupled with increasing concerns over product safety have made the issue of trust a key driver of consumer spending,” explains Nancy Heaton Lonstein, marketing director, Jeffco Fibres. “Shoppers choose brands as a means of assurance that these products can be trusted for quality and safety. As a local manufacturer selling sleep products, we find that shoppers today are less willing to trust in a U.S. company making products under little-known house brands than they were 15 years ago, at which time buying goods from a local, albeit unknown, name brand was a big plus.”

The ability to have faith in a known brand eases purchase selection for consumers buying through the internet, which is dependent on two-dimensional images only. “We’re seeing a big push in consumer loyalty to licensed home brands and I think it’s just a matter of gaining that comfort level and loyalty with consumers especially in the online marketplace,” says Santhi Yarlagadda, vice-president of business development, Kas Rugs.

Concepts of “reflected glory”—ex. “I can have a piece of the life someone I admire enjoys”—and hero worship also sway consumer dollars toward the purchase of a product that bears the name tag of a favorite celebrity or designer. “The advent of reality television and social media have given consumers more access to design personalities than ever before, helping to engender loyalty towards certain brands,” Teri Lahmon, licensing manager, Surya. “Consumers are increasingly interested in the ‘personality’ behind the design, as well as the story that went into making the product. This helps them to feel more invested in the designer, adding value to ownership of the designer’s products.”

Brand Origins & Audience

Vicki Payne, tv interior design expert who has lines in a range of product categories, notes that many licensed home textiles today are coming from names in the apparel fashion world. Indeed, Jessica Simpson extended her label beyond apparel fashion into home goods last year with fashion bedding by Peking Handicraft Inc. and added a bath line by 1888 Mills last month. Costume and fashion designer, Bob Mackie, adds rugs to his product lineup with a new collection from Kas Rugs. Elie Tahari has extended the brand from ready-to-wear into ready-to-sleep, with a range of comfort sleep products launched by Pacific Coast Feather Co. during N.Y. Home Fashions Market last month.

Designers whose claims to fame originated in product categories other than home are also expanding their empires into the shelter world. Kathy Denness’ line, Clairebella, has grown from a boutique line of juvenile products into a wide-ranging gift line that includes monogrammed tech cases, stationery, desk and table top items. Victoria Classics now has the license to produce Clairebella fashion bedding and bath items. The simple but vividly colored geometric designs with on-trend influences, such as ikat, have appeal for both young adult and not-so-young consumers.

Kathy Davis gained prominence through her greeting card artwork and inspiring words. Her mission, to “scatter joy—joy through art, joy through living, joy through giving,” has led to the expansion of her product lines into the bath. Creative Bath recently debuted the Kathy Davis line of shower curtains, bath rugs and accessories.

There are still interior design experts who are up for the challenge of conquering home textiles. Interior designer and tv personality, Monica Pedersen, has launched her first licensed line of fabrics, draperies and pillows with Softline Home Fashions (see sidebar on p. 14). Designer Jennifer Adams has extended her product range into the bath with a new line by Creative Bath.

What’s different about some of the new lines is their blatant appeal to younger generations. The Millenials, who are a large-sized generation with more future buying power than the mature Baby Boomers, are here!
The Sak Brand Group has partnered with Jay Franco and Sons, Inc. to license the Sakroots brand and its proprietary prints for its first-ever home collection, which includes bath, beach and hand towels, shower curtains, bath accessories, comforters, sheets, throw and decorative pillows using Sakroots original artists prints. Available to consumers in Spring 2015, the items are targeted to college dorm and first apartment dwellers.

The Sakroots brand already includes footwear, media accessories, jewelry and stationery and travel items. Sakroots reaches many of its customers through social media platforms and encourages them to “Choose Your Karma” by supporting artists and charities of their choice from its circle, with Sakroots matching all donations.

“The bedding ensembles offer young women not only unique and fun patterns but also a way to make a difference,” says Maria DeSena, vice-president creative director.

It makes sense that if the process of ordering over the internet is a positive for encouraging brand loyalty and if the younger generations are more adept at shopping online than older ones, that more and more licensed product will be geared towards them as time goes on.

Fashion designer Betsy Johnson has debuted a line of fashion bedding through Revman International with all of the prints drawn from her apparel collection. Ironically, young-at-heart septuagenarian Johnson is old enough to be the mother or grandmother of many of her fans. Women aged 18 to 25 constitute 28.2 percent of her fan base, while 25- to 35-year-olds make up 31 percent. (Bravo to her for being able to remain relevant with changing times and consumers!)

What’s nifty about Johnson’s collection and about many collections—licensed and unlicensed brands included—designed today, is that even though the primary target audience is the younger generations, the modern, clean-lined designs have elements that are broad enough in appeal to attract not only the college student but her mother as well.

How To Choose?

If you’ve attended home textiles markets for any length of time, you’ve seen a debuting licensed line or two that prompts the reaction, “Wait…what?” featuring products whose designs are not logically or clearly associated with the celebrity whose name the line bears. Slapping any celebrity or designer name on a product is no guarantee of brand success. Suppliers consider several factors before diving into the brand pool.

“We feel that licenses have to be a fit all around…each license that approaches us has to be a fit for our product breadth, culture and style of doing business,” says Santhi Yarlagadda. “Bob Mackie Home and Donny Osmond Home are two very different licenses and have two very unique target markets/customers for us at Kas Rugs. We chose to partner with Bob Mackie Home as we felt the corporate cultures meshed and that we could create products that are beautiful and luxurious in a very unique construction.”

“Bob Mackie is known for his incredible design,” continues Rao Yarlagadda, president, Kas Rugs. “Donny Osmond is a well-known personality and loved worldwide. His home brand focuses on family and was a great fit for our company.

“Bob Mackie Home rugs [priced mid-range to high] are very elegant,” say Rao. “Donny Osmond Home rugs [launching at Las Vegas Market in July and moderately priced] have a more relaxed living appeal.”

Jeffco Fibres’ Lonstein notes, “As a small USA manufacturer that has been in the bedding industry for 43 years, we knew we had to offer our shoppers products under brands that have strong name recognition, match our quality reputation, and speak to sleep, our product category. Our portfolio is diverse and each brand approaches the sale from a different strength.

“Snuggle Home™ and the iconic Snuggle® bear is a popular household brand that is beloved and trusted across America, evoking the wonderful emotional feelings we have about our sleep and rest time – Creating More Snuggle Up Moments. Eclipse® has been manufacturing mattresses since 1905 and for us this brand has been most successful evoking the health and wellness benefits of great sleep products—Eclipse® Health-o-pedic™ for example,” she says. “Our work with Angelo Surmelis and the angelo:HOME brand has led us into projects creating colorful, fashionable and affordable sleep product options that are leading these traditional products into new design options, and new frontiers.”

“Nourison partners with brands that add value to the overall portfolio of Nourison. We look to partner with brands that can add to our current customer base,” explains Rosenblum. “Key are notability, distribution and viability in the marketplace. The business model that we use for our branded products is reflective of the Nourison business model. It is a good, better, best platform and each brand covers these price points.”

Nourison’s brands include Kathy Ireland Home by Nourison, Calvin Klein Home, Barclay Butera Lifestyle, Joseph Abboud and Waverly, among others.

Surya has quite a wide range of designer licenses, such as Kate Spain, Jill Rosenwald, Candice Olson, Beth Lacefield, Lotta Jansdotter, Mike Farrell, Malene B., Aimee Wilder, Florence de Dampierre and Peter Som. Lahmon explains, “The designer collections that we create typically tie in not only to other Surya accessories, but also to other product lines that the licensee has developed—making it easy for customers to bring a unified look and design aesthetic throughout their home,” says Lahmon. “The majority of our designer lines are available across multiple price points. For our licensees, what’s most important is being impactful and relevant while still offering a high quality product.”

Keys To Success

Brand success or failure depends on several factors. First, the buyer needs to see the value in it. “The biggest difference between a successful brand, and one that isn’t successful is the translation of the brand through its DNA in the product,” says Nourison’s Rosenblum. “The buyer needs to make a connection with product as it is reflected in the brand, and the quality, price point, design and color need to come together.”

“To succeed with a home or rug license, the brand has to achieve the perfect harmony of designs that reflect the brand aesthetic while keeping on rug trends and staying current in the market. The products have to be very marketable in store as well as online,” notes Santhi Yarlagadda.

Brands must also resonate with consumers. “We find that the most successful brands are the ones that always keep the end user top of mind,” says Lahmon.

“Brand success requires a great reputation among consumers, but the differentiator is that that reputation must be perceived as increasingly relevant and of interest to consumers,” adds Lonstein. “Getting this momentum going and then competing successfully every day in the marketplace takes clear identity, focus, time and investment. Working with the team at MyPillow® over the past year, we have seen how intensive customer service, national advertising, and innovation can be leveraged to create a strong brand presence and sustainable sales.”

The originators of the brand must do their parts to maintain interest and relevancy among consumers. Vicki Payne, for example, is continuing to grow her “fame factor.” She began her first newspaper column—the weekly “Design Forward” in The Charlotte Observer—on April 5, 2014. In Fall 2013, she also launched the Perfect 4 Your Home website (perfect4yourhome.com) that features every product selected and sourced by Payne on her tv show. “If you see it on my tv show, you can buy it on the website,” she says. She also recently debuted a licensed program for custom furniture with Taylor King.

Payne also points out that one of the greatest challenges for the new brand kids on the block is competing against time-tested established brands, such as Martha Stewart and Nautica, for retail space and consumer top-of-mind.

The process of buying via the internet where products cannot be touched and felt before purchase is not only providing added incentive for consumers to embrace brands, but as Payne notes, it is coming in handy as a testing ground for brand newcomers. “If products do well online, then they can move into the mainstream,” says Payne.

What’s in a name? Big bucks if it’s done right. And it seems as if the stream of brand contenders will keep flowing in hopes of grasping that financial “brass ring.”

Resources


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