By Wanda Jankowski
|Barclay Butera Interior designer Barclay Butera has several home goods lines. New to the Barclay Butera line from Nourison is the Emperor design from the Dynasty Collection. Offered in azure (shown right) and ivory, the motif of imperial dragons that float among clouds is inspired by paperweights created for the Emperors of Ming and Qing. Eastern Accents’ Barclay Butera Collection includes the Charleston ensemble (left) that channels the soft color palette and laid-back style of a coastal summer house, enlivened with muted gold accents.
An exploration of brands’ differentiation and how it contributes to their success
The success of a brand involves its ability to project and maintain a singular vision that resonates with consumers. Here, we explore the unique visions behind some of today’s successful licensed and in-house brands.
Personal Design Statements
“A key consideration for us is whether the brand or designer has a unique and distinct design aesthetic and, additionally, if we feel that aesthetic can be translated into consumer products,” explains Ilana Wilensky, vice-president & partner, Jewel Branding & Licensing. “We are looking for designers and brands that are on-trend or ahead of the trends. Increasingly we are finding that a strong and engaged social media presence is also an important consideration. “
Three of the licensing firm’s most popular clients are: interior and product designer Nikki Chu, artist Shell Rummel and designer Kendra Dandy’s Bouffants & Broken Hearts. What distinguishes these from other designer brands in home fashions?
“Nikki Chu Home was designed to enable consumers to create spaces that are personalized, comfortable, yet stylish, with touches of glamour,” says Wilensky. “Chu mixes modern lines with updated and simplified ethnic patterns to create her unique vision in bedding, rugs, decorative pillows and more.
“Shell Rummel’s stunning and serene watercolor art has been masterfully translated into the home with beautiful bedding, rugs and bath products,” Wilensky states. “The look is tranquil and delicate with organic lines and is often described as a modern take on coastal.
“Bouffants & Broken Hearts represents a sense of individuality, self-expression and fun,” Wilensky says. “B&BH has a loyal and rapidly expanding social media following and numerous collaborations with high profile apparel and cosmetic companies. Its first foray into home textiles resulted in a collection of young and vibrant quilts, pillows, kitchen textiles and rugs that are reinterpreted in amusing ways.”
Los Angeles-based interior designer, Barclay Butera, has grown a brand that stretches across multiple categories. Shown in this article are offerings from the Barclary Butera line of rugs by Nourison and fashion bedding by Eastern Accents.
Leyla Tatargil, public relations, Eastern Accents explains, “Barclay Butera brings his own unique perspectives and styles to our overall line. Barclay presents his designs by lifestyle, so he starts with a look such as Mountain, Coastal, etc. and builds upon it with his own aesthetic. This gives his collections a curated feel that helps customers put together a lifestyle look.”
Living The Brand
The Patina Vie brand derives its uniqueness from the personal vision of founder/president, Sarah Willett. “Patina Vie is wildly authentic in our approach to branding. Our mantra, History + Style Collide, is simply an homage to our obsession with craftsmanship, fashionable detail and gorgeous materials.
“Patina Vie is an authentic extension of our actual lifestyle; not a brand that was created in a boardroom,” Willett explains. “We are headquartered in rural Wisconsin…our offices are in a rustic loft in my 1849 era cottage.
“Our brand has the advantage of many layers. In addition to our stylish new Patina Vie designed goods, we also have a thriving antiques and vintage business,” Willett explains. “I've been collecting (happily hoarding) covetable treasures since I was a kid. We have a warehouse full of one-of-a kinds that we market and ship around the world every day through our own website and amazing partners (One Kings Lane and Chairish).
These bespoke gems inspire our new designs…always celebrated with a boutique eye and fresh spin; making our entire lifestyle collection of products relevant and emotional for today's marketplace.”
S.L. Home Fashions creates the Patina Vie line of bedding, bath, kitchen textiles, decorative pillows and throws.
In January 2017, Karastan, a division of Mohawk Industries, signed on as a licensing partner for rugs and mats. “Karastan and Patina Vie share a similar passion for historical patterning and ornament while making these styles modern and palatable for today’s market,” says Tracy Pruitt, vice-president of design, Karastan, a Mohawk Industries brand.
“Sarah is a true rug designer,” says Brandon Culpepper, vice-president specialty sales, Mohawk Home. “We believe (and I think Sarah would agree) that the Patina Vie partnership with Karastan makes both brands stronger and will result in unique rug designs that consumers will love.”
Technology Based Brands
When it comes to comfort sleep products, sometimes it may be difficult for consumers to see what the differences are among brands. They see a sea of white—the benefit-laden “magic” that are the technologies within the products are often beneath the surface.
Is marketing comfort sleep brands more difficult than those that rely largely on fashionable designs? “One of the challenges is effectively communicating the various technologies to the consumer in a concise easy-to-understand manner,” says Eric Linn, vice-president of marketing, Soft-Tex Manufacturing Co. “We also know from the consumer research we do which product attributes are most important. For instance, in the case of pillows, it’s all about comfort. For toppers, it’s support. Cooling technologies are also frequently mentioned by consumers as an important ingredient in helping them achieve a comfortable night’s sleep.”
In establishing its brands, Soft-Tex takes a practical approach. “We generally use our brands as a way of differentiating products between channels of distribution and some are even account specific,” explains Linn. “For instance, SensorPedic® is used for the department/specialty store channel, while Dream Smart® is geared toward furniture/mattress retailers. TheraPedic® is specifically for Bed Bath & Beyond and SensorGel® is exclusive to Macy’s.
“As far as product differences are concerned, some of the basic technologies could be shared between brands, but we do make a conscious effort to differentiate exterior design aspects, such as fabrics,” says Linn. And there are instances in which specific technologies are used for specific channels.
One of the most well-branded components in home textiles is Lenzing’s family of unique eco-friendly fibers. “Both Lenzing Modal® and TENCEL® are high-performance cellulosic fibers sourced and produced in a documented and highly regarded sustainable manner,” explains Nina Nadash, home & interiors marketing manager, North Americas for Lenzing. “Each of these fibers also has a wide history of performance in both toweling and sheeting, especially due to the greater strength in a wet state. For the consumer, the everlasting softness and enduring color through repeated washings results in a product with a longer useful life at an attractive and functional state.”
Lenzing also continues to develop specialty fibers tailored for specific uses and not found elsewhere in the market. “MicroModal® and TENCEL® micro result in improved higher denier yarns and finer fabrics. These micro deniers in cotton blends greatly improve the hand and quality of textiles, especially sheeting products,” says Nadash.
“Thicker dtex TENCEL® fibers in longer cuts are finding great acceptance in rugs and upholstery, while Lenzing Modal® Loft is being used in toweling, blankets and flannel sheeting,” Nadash relates.
TENCEL also is enjoying increased use in basic bedding for fill and shell fabric. “The functional fiber attributes of moisture management, thermo-regulation and bacteria reduction are improved when TENCEL® fiber is used in both the fill and shell,” says Nadash.
Expanding In-House Brands
The Colorfly Home brand from Belle Maison exhibits a marked difference from other well-established brands in the company, such as Stylemaster, Renaissance Home Fashions and Twill & Birch. “Our other brands play it safe with color and motifs, whereas Colorfly Home experiments with fresh, colorful and painterly designs,” says Liz Romano, creative director, Belle Maison USA Ltd. Although the brand attracts a youthful audience, Romano notes, “We prefer the collection speak to multiple generations that appreciate fresh and creative solutions for home rather than focusing only on a younger customer.”
In January 2017, HomTex Inc., known for its DreamFit® sheets, unveiled its new Dream Living™ brand, which is largely cut, sewn, packed and distributed in the company’s U.S. facilities. The new brand seeks to help consumers play out their own versions of “the good life.” As with other HomTex lines, Dream Living™ offers products that fulfill specific needs. “Every product in our new collection has a unique reason for being,” says Jerry Wootten, founder and ceo of HomTex. “We want to go beyond the consumer’s expectation and deliver everyday luxury. That’s the value proposition a growing number of consumers are looking for today.”
The line currently includes DreamFit sheets and other bedding products, adjustable bases, pillows, throws and decorative pillows.
Although there are many brands in today’s marketplace, most owe a significant part of their continued success to the uniqueness of the visions at the heart of their creation.