Smart Report - April 2013

Forward Moves
By Wanda Jankowski

Shades & Tones The DKNY Highline Stripe shower curtain from CHF Industries reflects the trend of using shades of a single color in one design—a fresh approach to solids.
Bright New Colors Daisy House’s best-selling bamboo towels are now available in three new colors: deep teal, pink flamingo and blood orange.
Storage Solutions Zenith Products offers creative Make-A-Space shower caddies that provide flexibility, customization and functional use of otherwise wasted space. The caddies work with all standard stalls and enclosures, as well as with hand-held showerhead bar systems.
For Ocean Lovers The Sea Urchin Collection of bath accessories from Avanti Linens includes: tumbler, soap dish, toothbrush holder, lotion dispenser, tissue cover, wastebasket, tumbler and shower hooks (not shown).
Animal Attractions The new novelty spare paper holders from Taymor debut this summer in brown and chrome finishes. The menagerie includes five designs: one giraffe, two dogs and two cats.
Double-Wall Design The Horizons Collection of bath accessories from Veratex achieves depth and dimension from its double-wall resin design.
Shades Of Gray From J. Queen New York, the Sienna shower curtain renders intricate classic patterns in on-trend shades of gray. Glitz bath accessories complement the curtain and pair three-dimensional matte ribbed patterning with contrasting smooth and shiny banding.
Shag Memory Foam Mats Sleep Innovations has added Chenille Shag and Modern Shag bath mats to its ComfortCo memory foam bath mat line. The Chenille Shag features thick, high-pile chenille yarn for plush comfort. The Modern Shag includes a long pile, twisted and loop styled yarn, updating the look of the traditional shag bath mat. The machine washable, dryer safe, 100 percent polyester mats include an anti-skid backing, and are water absorbent, and mold- and mildew-resistant. Both are offered in 17- by 24-inch and 20- by 32-inch sizes.
GOTS Certified Towels Schlossberg introduces the Elements Collection, made with 100 percent combed organic cotton in compliance with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibers worldwide. Soft, absorbent Elements towels are offered in a nature-inspired palette of 20 colors and in five sizes, along with a shower mat and bath mat.

Leading suppliers weigh in on design trends, product innovations and directions for the future of towels, shower curtains, accessories and other bath-oriented resources

Daily wear and tear on products designed for what is arguably the most used and multi-functional room in the home necessitates consistent replacement, which is great for business.

“The bath business is strong and growing, especially online where retailers are expanding their assortments. Towels, rugs and shower curtains are particularly robust. Post-recession, we are finding that consumers will spend more for better quality and design,” says Spencer Foley, executive vice-president, CHF Industries. “There is more of a taste for ‘luxury’ items than in the recent past.”

Demand for bath products has had positive effects on the overall quality and range of design trends and fabrication innovations.

Design Trends

Saul Moreno, national sales manager, Home Treasures sees “lightweight towels that are energy efficient and quick dry, which make these towels environmentally friendly by using zero-twist cotton,” as a trend gaining in popularity. “We are also seeing a new trend with cotton binding around the edge versus a typical finished-to-edge towel,” he notes.

“We are and have been seeing a lot of new color trends that are focusing on more bright colors. We also feel that the Turkish Pestemal towel is getting a lot of attention,” note Peter and Laura Trezoglou, owners, Daisy House. “It’s a similar towel to those that were used in Turkish baths. We are doing some private label product development with Pestemal that are absolutely beautiful with two-ply and fringes.”

Eric Loges, vice-president of bath development, Home Source International, sees the use of finer pile yarn counts on towel construction as an upcoming trend.

“There is a trend towards creating tonality and shades of a color in one design – a new approach to solid, if you will, along with unique textures, whether they are printed or woven,” says Spencer Foley, executive vice-president, CHF Industries. “Natural materials are important, such as cotton in towels and shower curtains, and glass or metal in accessories. Blue is the most important color in bath right now, as well as cooler colors paired with gray.”

Courtney Vagliardo, design director, Zenith Products, agrees on the importance of texture in accessories. “The materials we chose emphasize surface treatments—metallics, natural materials including stone, agate and marble, as well as metal finishes that are textured or aged/weathered.

“We see the return to bold and beautiful florals, whimsical novelties and a resurgence into master bath looks driving our design and style decisions,” she adds.

Allen Josephson, senior vice-president of merchandising, Veratex, states, “Resin continues to be the material of choice for most designs.”

“We’re seeing a strengthening of the freestanding piece of the business—accessory groups that can work with multiple shower curtains, rugs and towels. Those free-standing groups are metal, glass and wood, as well as ceramic and resin, which have traditionally been the strongest,” explains Jeff Kaufman, president/coo, Avanti Linens.

Randy Wright, senior vice-president, Taymor Industries, continues, “Teak is trending very quickly in both bath furniture and countertop accessories. Bamboo seems to still be strong in some of the off-price retailers. Acacia wood is also becoming more popular since it has the same properties as teak, but is lower priced. In metal, we see some satin brass in our mirror trays becoming more popular since we debuted them at the March N.Y. Home Fashions Market.”

Vanessa Piper, vice-president design—bath, J. Queen New York reveals, “In hard accessories, including ceramic, acrylic, resin or steel, the metal look is everywhere. We are finding subtle hints of metallic in fabric as printed accents or woven with bits of metallic yarns.”

Product Innovations

Incorporating design trends and fresh style strategies, suppliers continue to distinguish their products through creative innovations that increase functionality and eye appeal.

“We are going from less coordinating to more complementary [designs] when pairing collections,” says Piper.

“We are finding this to be a much more current way of styling bath.”

Zenith Products offers several lines that give consumers more customized style and added convenience. “We have introduced a new shower rod and finial program in which the consumer can choose a shower rod in select finishes and sizes to coordinate with an extensive decorative finial assortment, making it a truly customized decorating experience,” says Gino Biondi, vice-president Sales and Marketing, Zenith Products.

Zenith’s Make-A-Space shower caddies include customizable components suspended from a bar that extends from the showerhead stem to the stall wall.

Veratex is using double-wall resin to create unique designs.

Home Source International is focusing on solution-oriented innovations, such as its Rebel Collection of bleach-resistant towel ensembles for the kitchen and bath, and the Suite Perfection Collection of towels with TCT Technology water-wicking management. The Suite Perfection MicroCotton® towels are also benzoyl peroxide-, salicylic acid-, stain- and fade-resistant, as well as bleach friendly, extra absorbent and colored with azo-free dyes.

“We are also influenced by the eco-conscious buyer with introductions like our recycled cotton towel,” adds Loges.

Best known for its window treatments, Lorraine Home Fashions is ramping up its shower curtain program to grow volume with both current and new retail clients. “While shower has always been a relatively small portion of our total business, there was often overlap between the two areas at many of our customers, so shower just made sense,” says Rex Dyer, president, Lorraine Home Fashions.

“Our assortment of freestanding shower curtains has evolved to include laces, woven jacquards, prints and appliqués, and a number of popular seasonal offerings. The recent success of several ruffled shower curtain programs has helped expand our customer base and create new opportunities,” Dyer explains.

Foley believes CHF Industries’ innovation lies in its ability to develop a complete bath collection that “tells a story at retail, yet each piece can stand on its own. This is a unique capability.” In addition, beyond its national brands, coastal themed offerings are a growing category for the company.

Future Directions

Moving forward, suppliers plan to pursue directions that take advantage of their core strengths and successes in the marketplace.

“Our Izmir zero-twist towels are the newest addition to our bath line. We have had great response so far and will continue to grow this towel collection,” says Home Treasures’ Moreno.

“We mostly concentrate on basic, very good quality towels in a broad color and size range, including basic and new seasonable fashion colors,” says Chortex’ Vergucht. “Consumers want good-sized quality towels with easy care and durability. One hundred percent combed cotton is still the best natural fiber for better quality towels.”

Daisy House is focusing on creating towels and robes that combine new technologies with Old World style. “We are always seeking new private label partnerships,” say the Trezoglous. “We are currently searching for reps to handle areas all over the U.S., Canada and beyond.”

“One area on which we are focusing is a new collection of PEVA shower curtains with rich, modern styling,” says Lorraine’s Dyer. “Designed with retails starting at $8.99, they offer terrific value and will appeal to a larger mass market that can generate significant volume growth. We’ll offer licensed and proprietary designs ranging from a whimsical, simple porthole pattern to a butterfly botanical with rice paper background.”

Lorraine Home Fashions will also offer printed patterns on deluxe Ottoman fabric, such as the flower-and-butterfly design, Splendor, which will also be produced as a printed panel and valance on a shimmer-sheer fabric. By the Sea, a collage design of coastal elements with a distressed, sun-bleached effect, is also offered as a shower curtain with a coordinating window curtain and valance.

The company is creating complex woven jacquards and large-scale prints with asymmetrical motifs for fabric and an expanded assortment of PEVA offerings in time for Fall 2013 N.Y. Home Fashions Market.

What’s The Greatest Challenge Facing The Bath Sector?

“The large variety of competition in the market.”—Saul Moreno, Home Treasures

“There are two challenges that we face. The first is pricing in China—it continues to create pressure and there is resistance to raising retails. The second is a lack of accounts to sell to—we develop a lot of new styles every year, but have a limited audience to sell them to.”—Jeff Kaufman, Avanti Linens

“For bath accessories, it is always a challenge to create new and innovative designs.”—Allen Josephson, Veratex

“Cotton pricing puts pressure on finished goods pricing even though towel weaving capacity exceeds towel demands. Also, the currency fluctuation will add to the challenge.”—Eric Loges, Home Source International

“The usual challenges are rising labor costs, ocean rates, dock strikes and raw material increases, which motivate us to always look for alternative materials and other countries for manufacturing, such as Indonesia, where the labor costs are lower than China. We also see our customers buying larger items and even wanting goods, such as vanity stools and pedestal tissue holders, fully assembled now instead of unassembled in a box. Some of these represent higher dollar items which they are committing to and it reflects in higher dollar sales on both ends.”—Randy Wright, Taymor Industries, Inc.

“We find the greatest challenge is showing enough diversity. We try to show a line that is handmade for each customer. This means showing a broad range from the traditional floral look to modern traditional, ultra contemporary to regional.”—Vanessa Piper, J. Queen New York

“The greatest challenge facing the bath category in the coming year is to continue to find ways to give the consumer luxurious and high-quality products at economical prices.”—Peter and Laura Trezoglou, Daisy House

“Inventory and quick delivery, and these are our strengths!”—Eric Vergucht, Chortex Ltd.

“Product cost is a never-ending challenge; concurrently, we are also seeing retailers aiming to have products that deliver higher margins. Building a price sensitive yet diversified portfolio of product is always a challenge, but a challenge we love to overcome.”—Gino Biondi, Zenith Products

“Our focus is to be the market leader in providing stylish and functional bath products for consumers at every price point,” says Zenith’s Biondi. “We are going to continue developing made-in-the-US’ product lines and investing in state-of-the-art equipment for our 700,000 square feet of U.S. manufacturing space, while forging strategic global partnerships abroad.”

Business in the bath sector seems to be thriving and suppliers are taking advantage of the current product demand to invent fresh, creative ways to surprise and delight both retailers and end users.

Resources

• Avanti Linens, 8000-360-0836, avantilinens.com
• CHF Industries, Inc., 212-951-7800, chfindustries.com
• Chortex Ltd., 914-930-1696, chortex-usa.com
• Daisy House, 303-665-9292, daisyhousetowels.com
• Home Source International, 404-682-9820, homesourceinternational.com
• Home Treasures Inc., 713-937-7716, hometreasureslinens.com
• J. Queen New York, 212-414-1555, jqueen-ny.com
• Lorraine Home Fashions, 212-684-0858, lhfonline.com
• Schlossberg USA, 877-BONSWIT, schlossbergusa.com
• Sleep Innovations, Inc., 732-263-0800, sleepinnovations.com
• Taymor Industries, Inc., 800-388-9887, taymor.com
• Veratex, Inc., 800-653-1005, veratex.com
• Zenith Products Corporation, 800-892-3986, zenith-products.com


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