Show Review - April 2017

Haute Home: Reshaping Luxe
By Wanda Jankowski

Art Hide’s Angulo Leather Rug The Angulo Rectangular rug in blue from Art Hide is made with Italian and Brazilian hides that are sourced as a by-product. A ribbon-edge finish borders the rug, which consists of precisely cut hexagonally shaped leather pieces stitched together with commercial-grade nylon thread. Angulo rugs are offered in three sizes and in several other colors, including pink, gray and cream.
New From SDH’s Purists Collection Hibiscus Platinum and Sumi Platinum duvets and covers are from SDH’s Purists Collection, which offers goods made without chemical bleaches, dyes or finishes. Hibiscus Platinum jacquard is 60 percent linen and 40 percent silk. Sumi Platinum jacquard botis is 45 percent linen, 30 percent organic cotton and 25 percent silk. The Linen Plus sateen sheets also shown are 60 percent linen and 40 percent cotton. All are woven in Italy
Flaneur’s Bohemian Look By Estee Stanley Flaneur, creator of custom-colored luxury sheeting, presents an exclusive multi-hued look fashioned by designer Estee Stanley. The ensemble features the celestial duvet cover, gold rush pillowcases and evening sand sheets. All elements are made with 100 percent Supima cotton sateen, garment dyed and prewashed in Los Angeles.
Thurston Reed’s Velvet Aria Sumptuous fabrics and quality details are distinguishing factors in Thurston Reed products, as seen in this 24- by 24-inch Aria pillow made with silk velvet and enhanced with gold-foil detailing.
Libeco Home’s Belgian Linen Maora Made with 100 percent Belgian linen, the Maora Collection, which includes a duvet cover, pillowcase and sham, features a striped design in a sateen weave with a washed finish inspired by the beach in Southern Corsica that bears its name.
Peacock Alley’s Elegant Pompei Luxury in textiles has long been associated with Italian goods that exhibit design detailing, quality yarns and expert finishing, as seen in the Pompei duvet and shams from Peacock Alley.

Dealing with changes and challenges in the high-end sector

Part of today’s “new normal” involves dealing with dramatic changes in consumer expectations, ways of purchasing products and new technologies affecting products and retailing. Here is how some high-end suppliers are using “change challenges” to advantage.

Hitting It Right

“Shifts in shopping behavior (online versus brick-and-mortar), more casual lifestyles (work-live-home influence) and the ways in which different generations spend disposable income (goods versus experiences) impact the way our wholesale customers plan and buy for their customers. Finding new business channels and niche targets, and providing the goods and services each seeks, can be challenging from developmental, planning and operational standpoints. However, hitting it right pays off!” explains Leslie Eades, vice-president brand & creative, Peacock Alley.

“Hitting it right” can take many forms. Responding to trends in consumer expectations is at the heart of business strategies for Flaneur Bedding:

  • Fulfilling consumer craving for personalization: The New York-based company offers ten-day delivery on luxury sheets and duvet covers custom dyed—yes, virtually any color—through its Flaneur Color Journey program.
  • Capitalizing on interest in all things global: “We are challenging the traditional notion that luxury items are made in one location in today’s world,” says Lu Xiong, co-founder, Flaneur Bedding. The company uses 100 percent biodegradable sewing thread made in Germany, premium zippers from Switzerland and skilled tailors in Shanghai whose family business dates back to 1910.
  • Guaranteeing authenticity using state-of-the-art technology: Flaneur conducts DNA testing on every batch of its Supima® cotton to verify its pedigree.

Finally, Flaneur extends its reach through multiple channels. It sells through select brick-and-mortar stores, its own website and a newly launched Trade Program for interior designers.

Challenges Facing The Luxury Sector

“Consumers want the quality associated with luxury, and have become more savvy about a product’s worth. With luxury brands widely available—and at a variety of price points—luxury products that offer exclusivity and differentiation stand out. Little-known brands offering high-design deliver on the desire for the ‘bespoke’. Customization or discoveries with a story add considerable value to a luxury purchase.”—Leslie Eades, vice-president brand & creative, Peacock Alley

“One of those challenges is addressing new technologies, including social media and new customers whose mainstay is e-commerce rather than brick-and-mortar. A second challenge is differentiating our products—we always challenge ourselves to differentiate our products from lesser quality lines and strive to offer ‘affordable’ luxury bedding with a noticeable difference.”—Edythe Jacobs, coo, DownTown Company

“One of the greatest challenges is finding a way to accurately portray the quality and subtle, yet defining, details of luxury textiles over e-commerce channels. A distribution mix, including online and brick-and-mortar retailers, paired with consistent branding, no matter the media channel, has become more important than ever. Consumers may not have the tactile experience when shopping online, but through creative copy, stellar photography and clear communication of the brand’s promise of quality and values, companies can effectively appeal to their senses just the same.”—Colleen Hall, senior marketing manager, Elisabeth York and Carol & Frank

“The challenge is getting retailers to stock enough of the product to handle immediate sales in the store front. Since we stock our products in advance, we need stocking dealers to regularly refill their inventory in order to make this model work.”—Ed Reisert, national sales director, Libeco Home U.S.
“In luxury, with time there will always be someone behind you trying to do what you do for cheaper. To be successful, you must always be different, do something your competitors cannot do.

To be a successful luxury business, you must always be looking towards the future.”—Leanne White, sales manager, SDH

Shape Shifting

Sometimes responding to change involves a shift in perspective. Thurston Reed has shifted the focus of its website. “The site used to be very much a trade site and assumed to some extent that a visitor was familiar with the product already,” says Nicholas Reed, co-founder, Thurston Reed. “We’ve now changed it so you can get a really good snapshot of who we are and what we’re about on the home page, and as visitors progress through the site, they are educated on designs and fabrics. Consumers are relying on your website to be your digital showroom, so you need to give them as much information as you can while you have their attention.”

It may seem like heresy, but “online” isn’t everything. Ed Reisert, national sales director, Libeco Home U.S. states, “We have always believed that our brick-and-mortar customers are the best venue for our products, since they can impart our ‘story’ to the end user. We want the consumer to know all that we do to create beautiful products that will last a long time, in a sustainable way, so we look to training for our retailers to give them this knowledge.”

Art Hide takes a service approach in helping its customers understand the quality of its products. Australians Kura Perkins and sister, Bree Hay-Hendry, created Art Hide to offer durable, beautiful rugs, cushions, accent furniture and poufs made with premium, ethically sourced cowhide leather. Recently, they also created Amigos de Hoy, to offer a wider range of textiles and products, including dhurrie and rag rugs.

Both businesses are multi-channel—wholesale, direct-to-consumer and comprehensive designer-directed service—spanning both residential and commercial segments.

To help customers picture the products in their environments, the company sells letter-sized swatches of the design desired to show the product’s exact color and feel. They also offer a free rendering service that depicts what the product will look like in-situ.

Changes in style—notably a shift toward contemporary design—also are part of the reaction to generational and lifestyle evolutions. Libeco Home’s Reisert relates, “We’ve always designed to our own aesthetic to maintain our ‘Belgian style’, which luckily has always had a more contemporary feel. So for us, U.S. design is finally catching up with what we’ve always been.”

“In our designs,” says Leanne White, sales manager, SDH, “we have seen the need for casual livable luxury. SDH has expanded our line in Capri Percale and a variety of 100 percent Egyptian cotton covers. They come in bright fun colors and, priced at our opening price point, they open the world of luxury linens to a younger generation.”

Doing What Comes Naturally

Finally, interest in healthy living is increasing demand for eco-friendly products. “We’ve always striven to be industry leaders in sustainable practices, culminating in our carbon neutral status in 2015,” says Reisert. “We’ve also recently launched the first GOTS certified Organic Belgian linen bedding collection called Heritage, which is appealing to this new luxury customer concerned with chemicals in their homes and the environment.”
“At SDH, sustainability is a lifestyle and less of a marketing trend,” says White. SDH has added more organic cottons to its Purists Collection, which uses GOTS and Oeko-Tex certified fabrics.

Lenzing Fibers, manufacturer of eco-friendly fibers, recently has had an uptick in interest for its TENCEL® MICRO. According to Nina Nadash, senior home & interiors market manager, Lenzing Fibers, “TENCEL® MICRO has emerged as the newest luxury fiber for U.S. sheeting needs. Although Lenzing had not promoted this fiber through any U.S. business-to-business campaign, the increasing market acceptance is remarkable. It is the most pure example establishing consumer pull-through for a luxury fiber.”

Technically speaking, TENCEL® MICRO is actually a .9 dtex microfiber version of TENCEL® that enables the spinning of finer yarns for the weaving of higher thread count sheeting. Performance characteristics include moisture management, bacterial growth reduction and thermoregulation, along with the silky hand.

Although TENCEL® MICRO is most commonly used on its own in sheeting, it can also be blended with market, Pima and Supima cottons, as well as TENCEL® fibers.

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