Genre - November 2012

Luxury’s New Look
By Wanda Jankowski

For The Youthful Set Lustre from Peking Handicraft Inc.’s Luxury Collection is a cotton jacquard that showcases an abstract, distressed pattern, created with younger generations in mind. The pizzazz is in the decorative pillows.

Quality in materials and construction reigns supreme as luxury suppliers create designs to entice younger generations while satisfying long-time purchasers

The look of luxury constantly evolves to suit economic times and changing consumer lifestyles. Here, suppliers of luxury goods provide a snapshot of this moment in time to record popular trends and bestsellers, as well as their efforts to design for and market to younger generations.

Updated Little Black Dress At Home

The over-embellished, elaborate traditional looks of the decade past disappeared for more than one reason. The recession took its toll, dictating cost economies that favored pared-down styles. But, in spite of that, consumers themselves had their say, preferring more casual styles and streamlined designs reflected in easy care transitional and contemporary creations.

Today, color and texture reign supreme. The quality of the materials and construction are the eye-catchers. One look at or touch of the fabric signals luxe with no need to check the price tag. The key to embellishment is restraint. Refinement and sophistication take center stage.

“The trend seems to be toward simple top of bed with the decoration and embellishment in the pillows,” says Carol Antone, vice-president of creative services, Peking Handicraft, Inc. (PHI). “The better the fabric, the less decoration you need on it. Textures have been around for a while, but they are more sophisticated today.”

Steve Schneider, president, Sferra, agrees. “Sumptuous fabrications and embroideries are very important right now. Our Italian woven Sferra Giza 45® sheeting is extremely popular, because the super-fine Egyptian cotton yarns used to create it represent less than one half of one percent of all cotton exported from Egypt,” he says.
“As far as colors go, we are finding navy is very strong, gray still has life, and deep corals and turquoise appear to be a good trend for Spring ’13,” says Schneider. “Our Saxon design was expanded for Fall 2012 to include the very hot-selling indigo shade of embroidery.”

Hilde Leiaghat, creator and owner, Pom Pom at Home, adds, “I feel that these days the design trends seem to be all exotic. People love to see something different. They want their homes to remind them of their travels. It’s both the vivid, vibrant as well as the more subdued hues they want.

“For us at Pom Pom at Home, it’s the latter we play into,” says Leiaghat. “We keep our color palettes neutral, because we want people to see the craftsmanship using a mixture of materials in one piece, from linen and velvet to crocheted cotton and lace, all with intricate design work that makes the piece timeless.”

What Is The Greatest Challenge
Facing The Luxury Sector?

“It is making a beautiful product at a decent price. Making it accessible to everyone is a priority. Also, being a step ahead in design, but not too far ahead so that people will not understand. It is about finding that balance.”—Hilde Leiaghat, creator and owner, Pom Pom At Home

“In fact, our challenge is to keep up with the demand! The luxury sector is growing for us. Good quality products never become dated.”—Claire Smithson, marketing manager, Chortex

“The greatest challenge is the constant evolution of ‘luxury’. As a second generation family-owned and operated business, we always have an eye on our future, ensuring our products stand the test of time.”—Jason L. Needleman, ceo, Peacock Alley

“Being a luxury brand means never cutting corners, maintaining a commitment to excellence on all levels and avoiding overexposure at retail and online.”—Leslie Connell, vice-president of U.S. sales and operations, Abyss & Habidecor

“Brand differentiation continues to be an ongoing challenge. One way we’ve taken on this challenge is with photography: we’re building a library of imagery that befits a true luxury brand to help set a cohesive visual territory for Sferra. We’re also working on a new and innovative national ad campaign that is brand-centric rather than product focused, and we’re strategizing how this works into the social sphere and works for our regional retail partners.”—Steve Schneider, president, Sferra

“The luxury customer wants a product and level of service that they cannot get from large stores or catalogs. We make everything to order here in our Seattle facility.”—Sally Wallace, president, Anali Exquisite Needlework

“The luxury home faces the same challenge as the luxury industry: creativity, quality in all senses in products and service. We need to surprise and astonish our customers, always anticipating their needs and expectations. All details count, from the product and the packaging to the way we are going to showcase and sell our collections.”—Jean-Baptiste de Jaham, ceo, Yves Delorme, Inc.

“Lurex is a trend that seems to resonate with consumers,” says Leslie Connell, vice-president of U.S. sales and operations, Abyss & Habidecor. “We have three bath rug styles with a measured quantity of sparkle— a tasteful amount of ‘bling’—that has appeal.

“Regarding color, white represents more than 50 percent of our sales. The top ten colors are all neutrals (beiges and grays) with aqua, persimmon and camel still strong. We relate this trend to luxury home building—the colors of the bathroom build-outs at the high end are overwhelmingly neutral.”

“This market still remains classic and conservative with easy color palettes that will remain in fashion for some time to come,” adds Claire Smithson, marketing manager, Chortex USA.

At the same time, Sally Wallace, president, Anali Exquisite Needlework, reveals, “Design trends are moving to more modern motifs. For colors, we see a new interest in earth tones mixed with bright whites, and primary based colors, such as emerald green, coral, sapphire and teal.”

Success Stories

Now to the specifics of what is selling best for luxury suppliers.

“The simplicity and romance of our Charlie Collection is what makes it so versatile and easy for people to accessorize,” Leiaghat explains. “The Allegra has beautiful embroidery and it embodies true luxury. The fact that these are organic and environment friendly is always a plus.”

Smithson cites Chortex’s patterned baroque towel as a customer favorite, “simply because this affordable elegance can sit in a palace or an apartment—a little luxury helps to make us feel special,” she says.

“While our sheets are always our best sellers, we have grown our coverlet business considerably,” says Jason Needleman, ceo, Peacock Alley. “I think the high-design, comfort and easy-care are all key factors in creating its value.”

Super Pile Towels are a hit for Abyss & Habidecor. “Consumers find luxury and value in our beautiful towels. We are the only factory in the world to use two-ply Giza 70 Egyptian cotton that affords superior absorbency, softness, and durability,” says Connell.

It’s the basics that always do well for Sferra. Schneider explains, “Our percales–Grande Hotel, Celeste, and Sereno–and our sateens–Fiona, Giotto, and Milos–along with the Sferra Giza 45® percale, sateen and jacquard are among our top-selling styles year in and year out. It’s because we use the finest Egyptian cotton yarns to weave our percales and sateens.

“We have also experienced great success with our new Bath program. Our Bello towel, woven in Belgium, has been expanded to 31 colors,” he adds.

At Anali, Wallace states, “Starfish, Sea Fan and Shell towels are doing very well with our second-home beach markets gearing up for their season. Table linens are also in demand for fall and holiday entertaining season. Our ability to customize sizes and colors gives us an advantage in the market.

“We have introduced our Color Block construction for the top of the bed,” she explains. “This gives our customers the ability to offer their clients a product that is unique to their project.”

Finally, Yves Delorme counts its Classic Collection as one of its greatest successes. Jean-Baptiste de Jaham, ceo, Yves Delorme, Inc. says, “This line is timeless and offers the very best in quality. Our patterns have a strong identity and a unique color range.”

Appealing To New Generations

Updated Floral
Silhouette from Yves Delorme pays homage to French haute couture illustrator, René Gruau, and the French fashion of the 1950s when his artwork flourished. The floral pattern formed of intense black strokes paired with feminine powder pink is as flattering a silhouette for the bedroom as the little black dress on a Parisian woman.
Lush Luxe
The Indulgence line from Chortex is made in Turkey with 100 percent combed cotton. The bath and hand towels, bath sheets and washcloths are sold individually and in six-piece sets that include two washcloths, two hand towels and two bath towels.

Luxury suppliers have no want for strategies when it comes to marketing their products to younger generations.
“We’re hearing from our customers that they are looking for younger and more casual looks in luxury products,” says Antone. “We created the Lustre pattern with younger people in mind. We have been doing these more modern designs in the Gift Division of PHI, but now we have carried it into our luxury bedding. Younger people are buying luxury goods.”

For Peacock Alley, catering to the young is nothing new. “While we are gearing up for our 40th anniversary next year, we have always had an eye on the younger generation. We design with four aesthetics in mind every season: timeless sophistication, modern classic, coastal affair and ‘hip’ life,” says Needleman.

Sferra is approaching the younger set through price points and marketing as well as aesthetics. “We’re targeting them with more affordable luxury offerings, and designing for their more modern aesthetic,” says Schneider.

“We have created—and are expanding into—a spirited collection that is a bit more fun. We’ve created a new color palette for this segment, which is all about cleaner, more vibrant colors that are less gray-hued or neutral.
Sferra is expanding its use of social media as well. “The younger demographic is quite inquisitive and we strive to provide them with information on not only our products, but our brand and heritage as well,” Schneider explains.

Leiaghat notes, “We are currently developing a print collection made of cotton. Making it budget friendly is also important to us. We’ve noticed that the generation of today is very intrigued with the vintage look and we are trying to make that look accessible to them at a lower price point.

“As far as marketing, we stay connected, whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram and our blog, Pom Pom Living,” she says.

“We are currently looking at modern classic towels where ‘less is more’, but with appeal to a broad market,” says Chortex’s Smithson.

Anali’s Wallace states, “Our modern motifs, along with our Color Block constructions, are geared toward the younger generations.”

Abyss & Habidecor’s Connell sums up the challenge of creating appeal across the generations: “The balance is presenting a product assortment that is appealing to our first and second generation consumer buyers, while being relevant to the taste of the younger family member.”

“More than looking to reach the younger generations, our company being international and global is very attentive to world changes in terms of communication and way of life,” concludes Yves Delorme’s de Jaham. “This attention to these changes is translated in our collections and the way we communicate about it.”

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