By David Gill
Area-rug manufacturers are increasingly entering the decorative-pillow market.
At the April High Point Market this year, Jaipur and Momeni launched their first decorative pillows. Two years ago, both Surya and Safavieh unveiled their initial designs in this category. Five years ago, Nourison debuted its first line of decorative pillows.
Jaipur debuted four collections at High Point: Brooklyn, featuring bright jewel tones crafted into a variety of appliques and embroideries; Landscape, built around a palette of soft shades on textural cotton fabrics; Pop Nomad, with motifs developed as modern interpretations of classic suzani and shyrdak textiles; and Soho, designed for the urban-loft environment and using a modern interpretation of craft techniques in rich tones.
Momeni launched three collections at High Point. One is a grouping of 10 outdoor-themed designs, all made in China. Another is a collection of kilim designs, made in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The third is a line of suzani looks made in Turkey.
For the newcomers, the segue into decorative pillows is a natural one. "In some of our rugs, the patterns lend themselves to interpret into pillows," said Reza Momeni, president of the company that bears his name.
In addition, decorative pillows are like rugs in what they add to a room's decor. "Our products are, first and foremost, about the adornment of a space, so pillows have always felt like the next logical step for the brand," said Jason Moody, Jaipur's creative director.
The potential of cross-coordination between pillows and rugs also makes this a sensible step. "With the opportunities for coordinating products across both categories, pillows have consistently been an area that customers have requested we move into," Moody said.
For those area-rug vendors that are already in decorative pillows, the decision has been a sensible one. Alex Peykar, principal with Nourison, said, "Nourison is a company with a high level of penetration among home furnishings retailers, so decorative pillows seemed to be a logical add-on and one that complements our rugs and broadloom lines." At the High Point Market, Nourison unveiled additions to its Joseph Abboud collection of both pillows and rugs, first launched at the New York Home Fashions Market last September.
These vendors reported that their decorative-pillow collections have found homes in a variety or retail channels. Nourison's line is featured in furniture stores, catalogs and home-accessory retailers. "For the most part, they do carry Nourison rug collections as well," Peykar said.
Safavieh's line "has been placed with home-accent and gift stores, online retailers and interior designers," said Arash Yaraghi, the company's principal. "The line has done best with interior designers and online retailers because of the directional colors and patterns."
Surya's pillow line has "grown tremendously," said Lynde Worley, the company's marketing/sales coordinator. "I would say we have around 20 different collections of pillows," Worley said. "We introduced over 100 last High Point Market, including an awesome indoor-outdoor collection of pillows and poufs."
In hindsight, entering the pillow category "made sense for Surya because we want to be a total accessory company," Worley said, "that one-stop shop to complete any room." She added that Surya tries to match its pillows to its current line of rugs "to make it easy for end consumers to finish their room."
In its first collections, Momeni also borrowed some of the designs from its rugs. "In some of our rugs, the patterns lend themselves to interpret into pillows," Momeni said. He added, however, that some of the designs are separate from the rugs.
Jaipur has also designed its pillows to work together with its rugs. "We developed the pillow ranges to function with some of our most popular rug collections," Moody said. "However, each piece has been designed to stand on its own as well."
The newcoming vendors view decorative pillows as a crucial element to their future growth. "We believe that pillows and other soft goods will only continue to grow as a part of our business over the next several years," Moody said. "The opportunities for retail cross-promotion between the two categories should be a key part of the continued growth of our customer base."
The same holds true for the vendors that have already entered the category. Peykar said, "Our plans are to strive harder to make it a much stronger category than it is now. Most of the results will really come from the recovery that we all hope for soon in the overall housing market and economy."
For Safavieh, decorative pillows have become a step toward making the company an overall home-decor resource. "We started in the rug business, but have been wholesaling our own furniture line for almost a decade," Yaraghi said. "Our goal is to present a total home concept to the stores--everything from mirrors to lighting, rugs, upholstery--so they can present a total Safavieh home-fashion lifestyle."