Explore the latest developments and directions in the eco-friendly sector, branding, design trends and product innovations
Technology brings us more choices and benefits, but it also has made the retail landscape more complicated—and so the business choices made by retailers, suppliers and manufacturers are more crucial in defining destinies that bring success.
“Twenty years ago, suppliers could be barely competent and survive,” explains Jack Toolan, president, Riviera Home USA. “Ten years ago, you had to be somewhat competent. Now, you have to be able to deliver a product combination with great price, design and quality, and to manage the business as well. Today, you need to know your retailer customer’s business as well as they do, as you are really like a consultant to their business.” And retailers need to understand consumers’ interests better than ever before.
This report provides details on choices suppliers are making in environmentalism, product innovations, design and branding that will define their destinies and impact yours.
Environmentalism Is Here To Stay
Manu Kapur, president and ceo, home textiles, GHCL Limited, points out that textiles is the second most polluting industry in the world. GHCL Limited is committed to the eco-friendly movement, with a broad product range that uses a variety of natural materials.
The company also seeks to create circularity around one of the most prevalent synthetic materials—polyester. REKOOP 2.0 from GHCL is an evolved solution that includes other sustainable fibers blended with tagged recycled polyester, variants that are performance oriented, with a broad appeal in product textures and finishes, and across the price pyramid. The technology behind REKOOP 2.0 enables REKOOP cotton-blend sheets or towels, for example, to be depolymerized after their useful lives so that the cotton becomes a bio-fuel and the rPET becomes a raw material for remanufacture. “There is no limit to how many times polyester can be recycled,” says Kapur.
On display in GHCL’s N.Y. showroom during September Market were an array of product variations that demonstrated how REKOOP polyester “plays well with others”—from blending with linen and cotton, to cupro, Modal, Tencel and viscose.
Of course, inroads must still be made in developing ways to collect these types of products for recycling, building plants to facilitate the recycling processes and educating both retailers and consumers on the importance of this eco-friendly mission.
Kapur sees hesitation on the part of retailers when it comes to offering eco-friendly solutions. “Retailers are warming to it, but aren’t totally eco-minded. There is a wait-and-see attitude among them,” he says.
But Kapur is driven when it comes to pursuing his company’s eco-friendly missions. “Every drop counts, like water,” he says.
Pioneer and leader in promoting sustainable textiles, Marci Zaroff, founder and ceo of Ecofashion Corp., has taken the fight to grow the environmental movement into her own hands again. Her current company includes four brands. Two focus on eco-friendly apparel. The remaining two—RESET and Farm To Home—focus on eco-friendly fiber production and home goods, respectively.
Created by Ecofashion Corp. and the Grameena Vikas Kendram Society for Rural Development, the RESET Program is the first vertically integrated regenerative program in the world. It is intended to be a source for organic fibers, not only for the Farm To Home brand, but for any company seeking to make eco-friendly goods.
Begun in 2018, the RESET program marries a sustainable financial model for farms with one that addresses climate change through regenerative farming. Simply put, the program directs farms in the Andhra Pradesh state in South India—the “cotton belt”—away from the use of pesticides and chemicals, and teaches the farmers how to rebuild the soil and generate organic crop growth methodologies. Organic farms use 45 percent less energy, release 40 percent fewer carbon emissions and earn three to six times greater profits, according to The Rodale Institute.
Zaroff recently debuted bath and bedding products from her new Farm To Home brand on QVC on Sept. 26, 2019. Farm To Home offers stylish, affordable towels, sheets, comforters, decorative pillows and robes in sustainable packaging. Because it takes time to recondition the soil and grow organic cotton through RESET, Farm To Home is using organic GOTS-certified cotton from other areas of India for its products this year.
Of course, there are many other suppliers who are increasing their eco-friendly offerings. Riviera Home USA, for example, has introduced soft bath rugs made with recycled PET yarns that have enhanced loft and a silky feel thanks to proprietary technology. The rugs carry the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) label, which is third-party certification that the content is indeed recycled, with a chain of custody, and made in adherence to social and environmental practices, and chemical restrictions.
It is in retailers’ and suppliers’ best interests as businesspeople and as human beings to lead in the effort towards a more planet-friendly home fashions world, rather than foot drag to “wait and see” what others will do.
Today’s Products Are Multi-Taskers
The days are gone when a towel was used simply to dry oneself off or sheets were only something soft on which to sleep. This is an age of “bells and whistles” where every product seems to be developed or marketed as a multi-tasker.
The Micro Cotton Sanctuary line includes towels with added benefits. The line’s Rejuvenate towels include encapsulated aloe vera to soothe the skin. Technology enables the aloe vera to be transferred only when rubbed against the skin as when drying off, so the towels can be washed without losing the skin-soothing capability.
Trident’s Everyday Fresh towels maintain their freshness via zinc that remains in the fibers for the life of the towel. WestPoint Home has introduced Pro-Sleep products under the Martex Health and Wellness brand that are infused with carbon-based anti-static technology.
Several suppliers have jumped on the cannabis bandwagon. WestPoint Home offers CBDreams infused with CBD for a soothing night’s sleep, also under the Martex Health and Wellness brand. Trident has Breeze CBD sheeting with infused THC-free hemp oil to enhance a relaxing sleep.
And when is a blanket more than just a blanket? When it is weighted, of course. Weighted blankets began appearing earlier this year, but the renditions continue to debut. WestPoint Home offers a Vellux® Weighted Throw/Blanket with removable, washable cover that weighs only 7 pounds, ideal for use by children. Since weighted blankets began as a means to calm autistic children, Vellux has committed a minimum donation of $100,000 from the proceeds of this throw’s sales to Autism Speaks.
Most weighted blankets in the marketplace are solid colors, but CHF Industries has taken their design a step further by offering weighted blanket covers in graphic prints.
Once in a while, a product comes along that is not the result of years of technological research. Rather it is born simply out of necessity—the solution to a pesky problem. Such is the case with WestPoint Home’s Perfect Fit flat fitted sheet, invented by Peri Polesuk. The two bottom corners of the sheet are outfitted with elastic to hug the mattress and keep the sheet in place during a sleeper’s tosses and turns.
Speaking of practical solutions, not only is the Woolable by Lorena Canals line eco-friendly, but it is the first collection of rugs and poufs in wool that can be laundered in a washing machine. Inspired by the oldest North American Indian tribe, the Hopi Collection is one of four collections debuted in the new Woolable line in September during Maison&Objet Paris. The rugs are made by craftspeople in India using only sustainable, natural raw materials and natural non-toxic dyes.
Riviera USA has been expanding its product categories and is dedicated to trying new material combinations that offer both comfort and benefit to consumers. New options include a line of durable, printed moisture-absorbent coir and waterproof rubber door mats, all made in India, as well as a variety of mats that utilize anti-fatigue, comforting memory foam, and bath rugs that blend organic cotton and hemp.
The company’s direct-to-consumer lines include solid, ombre and bordered bath rug designs made with micro-polyester, with future plans to add indoor/outdoor rugs.
Branding Is Strong
In addition to activity in the private label arena, many suppliers are developing or expanding branding strategies around in-house lines and licensed merchandise.
Avanti Linens has partnered with potter, designer and author, Jonathan Adler, known for his fun, modern American glamour style. The Jonathan Adler Bath Collection includes two design groupings of towels, shower curtains, tufted cotton rugs and bath accessories: the brightly colored Mid-Century Modern and the neutral-toned Boho, both with gold accents.
Espalma By Cobra/Lintex Linens has taken on two new licenses: Bouffants & Broken Hearts created by Philadelphia, PA-based Kendra Dandy, a fashion and beauty illustrator and surface pattern designer, and Rongrong by Rongrong DeVoe, a fashion and beauty illustrator based in Houston, TX.
Revman has launched USA Pima sheeting made abroad with long-staple cotton yarn from the U.S. Earlier this year, the company debuted the Kenneth Cole line.
Successfully maintaining a licensed brand that’s been around for a long time requires balancing design updates with the tenets of the original concept. Revman has done this with many of its long-established brands, but this year marks a significant anniversary in its partnership with Laura Ashley. Revman began partnering with Laura Ashley in 1989, a year after Richard Roman founded the company. The Laura Ashley line continues its classic and timeless feminine appeal, with more than 10 designs still in the line after more than a decade.
Although it still maintains private label customers, WestPoint Home relaunched a plethora of its brands and launched a few new ones during last month’s N.Y. Market. Relaunched brands include: SouthernTide®, IZOD®, Flatiron Home®, Modern Living®, Nostalgia Home, Martex® and Lady Pepperell.
New additions to the WestPoint Home portfolio include Martex Health and Wellness, as well as a collaboration between the Utica® brand and British street artist, Nick Walker. The Nick Walker Collection features colorful printed sheet sets, pillowcases, comforter sets and wall hangings decorated with his signature graffiti.
J. Queen New York formally introduced two lines in September. Johnson’s Cottage includes designs reminiscent of what one might find in a Charleston traditional home. White Sand Home includes products made in Portugal that capture a California casual, coastal vibe, elevating the traditional idea of coastal with sea motif-free patterns that focus on nature-based colors, and soft stripes and weaves.
Organic Comfy-let & Sham Set
Marci Zaroff is lounging on bedding from her Farm To Home line. Elements shown include the Comfy-let and Sham set (printed design with solid reverse), the Utra Cozy throw, and Sweet Dreams sheets and pillowcases. All are made with 100 percent organic cotton. The quilted Comfy-let fill is made from recycled plastic bottles (rPET). What’s a Comfy-let? A comforter can be too heavy and a coverlet not enough, so Comfy-let aims to hit the in-between sweet spot.
What’s New? Eco-Friendly Washable Wool Rugs
Debuted last month at Maison&Object in Paris, Woolable by Lorena Canals is the first collection of rugs and poufs in wool that can go into a washing machine. The rugs are made one at a time by craftspeople in India with eco-friendly natural materials and natural, non-toxic dyes. This Zuni rug shown and the Chinook round rug on this issue’s cover are from the Hopi Collection inspired by that oldest North American Indian tribe.
Brand Relaunch: Lady Pepperell By WestPoint Home
During September N.Y. Market, WestPoint Home launched and relaunched a plethora of brands. Among them, its historic Lady Pepperell, which includes color-rich, feminine and floral bedding sets packaged in reusable totes.
Benefit-Rich Towels With Neem
From Micro Cotton’s Sanctuary line, Renew towels treated with Neem oil extract offer anti-bacterial and anti-microbial benefits to provide natural odor control, thanks to this calming Ayuvedic ingredient.
Revman’s Love Affair With Laura Ashley
This year, Revman International reached its 30th anniversary in partnership with its licensed Laura Ashley brand. Key to the line’s continued success is maintaining the core feminine, English cottage style, while updating color and scale to appeal to today’s consumers. Shown is the new Wisteria comforter ensemble.
New License: Jonathan Adler Bath By Avanti Linens
Avanti Linens has introduced the Jonathan Adler Bath licensed line that includes towels, shower curtains, tufted cotton rugs and bath accessories. The line debuted last month with two collections: brightly colored geometrics in the Mid-Century Modern grouping and the neutral-toned Boho Collection, both using gold accents.
All The Rage: Weighted Blankets
The new Vellux Heavyweight Weighted Blanket from WestPoint Home is designed to create the calming feeling of a hug. Studies show that weighted blankets can improve sleep and ease symptoms of stress and anxiety, PTSD and sensory processing disorder like Autism. The throw/blanket is available in nine colors and four weights.
Today’s Eco-Friendly: Soft, Stylish & Affordable
From Marci Zaroff’s new Farm To Home line, Cloudsoft organic towels are made with 100 percent organic cotton. Bath sheets, bath and hand towels, and washcloths are offered in cloud, lavender, seaglass and stone.
On-Trend Maximal Art
Mina Victory pillows have always celebrated “more is more” in their lush, embellished designs. They are particulary on-trend today when Maximalism is the new hot design direction. This 18- by 18-inch pillow adds a rich emerald green to natural leather hide, further adorned with pops of gold beading.
Recycled Poly That Can Be Recycled Again
GHCL has developed REKOOP 2.0, an evolved and expanded expression of its sustainable bedding concept made with forensically tagged recycled polyester. REKOOP recycled polyester can be blended with many other fibers, such as cotton, Tencel, bamboo viscose, Modal and linen. This recycled polyester can be further recycled into new products.
Yes, There Are Standards For Recycled Products
Among Riviera’s new lines are soft bath rugs made with recycled PET yarns. The rugs carry the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) label, which is third-party certification that the content is recycled, with a chain of custody, and made in adherence to social and envriomental practices, and chemical restrictions.
What’s Trending In Design?
Jeff Seagle, director of creative services, Mohawk Home, says, “The advantage for Mohawk is that we have designers that are good at trend forecasting.” He notes that his company’s rugs reflect both specific current trends, “but we also have a healthy selection of rugs that embody forward-looking trends.”
Here are highlights of what Mohawk believes is trending in home fashion design today:
• Nature’s Trend—this celebration of neutrals pairs still-popular gray with touches of yellows and browns to refresh its effect.
• Retro/Vintage—this trend offers updated references to 1980s vibes, a decade with which today’s college students apparently are obsessed. Disco, anyone?
• Moody Blue—or rather embracing all shades of blue, which are livable and relevant for today’s lifestyles.
• Maximalism—reflecting a “more is more” philosophy when it comes to graphics, colors and textures, this direction includes Boho and globally influenced motifs for an eclectic mix.
Katy Chapman, senior vice-president marketing, CHF Industries, reiterates the importance of the Maximalism direction. “It points toward more decorative treatments—more prints, color and visual interest—versus the solids with textures that have been popular in recent years.”
When it comes to color, Chapman agrees that gray still tops the list of neutrals, but other colors are coming into play to enrich it and move the neutral palette forward. These include brown-cast neutrals, taupe, sienna and gold.
“Blush is still ‘big’ and blue tones also do well,” Chapman concludes.
China Tariff Challenges
How are the China tariffs affecting home fashion suppliers? It depends on where their product offerings are produced. If a company’s products are made in a country other than China, it’s smooth sailing.
However, Taymor Industries has had its products made in China. Randy Wright, Randy Wright, senior vice-president, Taymor Industries, Inc., expresses frustration: “The China tariffs are devastating since ‘we’, the suppliers, are forced to absorb the costs as the retailers will not raise their prices. No one will pay NEW prices for current goods, but they are willing to pay NEW prices for new goods IF they are in a different category but do not raise the overall retails in a specific buying category or channel.
“I have moved goods out of China. Regarding the countries I have moved production to, we have looked at the political situations in those areas to be socially conscious of what those environments are like, since the U.S. consumer has become more socially conscious about how goods are made and where they come from,” he says.
“My category cannot ‘come back to America’ and I explained this to my local congressman, giving him an example of his wife buying a shower caddy for $19.99 today, with the same item priced at $49.99 IF it could be produced here in America (unlikely as there is no longer this type of production facility here),” Wright explains.
“The retails in my decorative bath category are not getting increased since we have absorbed the increases, and moving to other countries has been a challenge, but it was necessary to remain a profitable company,” Wright concludes. “If I had continued with new items coming out of China, the buyer would know the tariffs were built into the prices and might possibly accept them, but later might request a cost reduction if the tariffs were dropped and I was left holding the bag on a warehouse full of goods with the tariff cost built into them.”
The long-term effects of China tariffs—whether it might drive some manufacturing back to the U.S. or provide incentive for other countries abroad to develop their manufacturing and shipping capabilities—remain to be seen.
• Avanti Linens, 800-360-0836, avantilinens.com
• CHF Industries, 212-951-7800, chfindustries.com
• Espalma By Cobra, 212-679-8046, espalma.com
• Farm To Home, firstname.lastname@example.org, farmtohome.com
• GHCL Limited, +91 120 2535113, ghcl.co.in
• J. Queen New York, 212-414-1555, jqueen-ny.com
• Lorena Canals, 844-567-3622, lorenacanals.us
• Micro Cotton, +91 (4254) 223450, microcotton.com
• Mohawk Home, 800-843-4473, mohawkind.com
• Nourison, 800-223-1110, nourison.com
• Revman International, Inc., 212-894-3100, revman.com
• Riviera Home USA, 212-967-2014, rivierahomeusa.com
• Taymor Industries, Inc., 800-388-9887, taymorcatalog.com
• Trident, 212-684-6342, tridentindia.com
• WestPoint Home, Inc., 800-533-8229, westpointhome.com