15446 Fri, 10/17/2008 - 2:28pm
By Allison Zisko
If the towel introductions showcased at last month’s New York Home Fashions Market are an indication, what’s old is new again and what’s new has gotten old pretty quickly.
After serving up a sea of solid-color towels for several seasons, manufacturers have returned to jacquards and patterns.
“It was really necessary to bring in additional fashion,” said Rick Lipton, director of the bath coordinate division for Baltic Linen. Among Baltic’s new jacquards are Allure, a brown floral vine design on a turquoise background; Kenya, an animal skin pattern in shades of brown; and Arizona, which sports a Southwestern design.
Welspun’s license with Waverly provided an opportunity to bring patterned towels back into the marketplace. Dipping into Waverly’s design archives, the company introduced Serene Stripe in six colorways: Fireside Plaid; Lovely Lattice, a delicate pattern on a two-toned panels background; Grace Floral; and Paddock Shawl, a splashy paisley.
Welspun also introduced a stripe to its 4-in-1 Smart Towel. It is solid on one side with an alternating cuff color. Depending on how the towel is folded or hung, it presents four different looks in a full color range.
Bardwil Linen also used licensing to introduce patterns. The Accoutrements by Anna Griffin for Lenox collection offers two patterned designs, both with an old world, vintage feel: Rose Brier, a jacquard with scattered roses; and Brier Rose, a printed towel with a similar rose design. Companion embroidered towels feature a different type of rose on each of the four colorways.
CHF Industries is merchandising its towel offerings by color story, where the color is the connecting link between many patterned options. Espalma introduced a scroll, a dot and a stripe in its Art Deco collection, which comes in four colors.
Loftex used the market to tweak its jacquards. Moving away from the more traditional florals and stripes, it introduced metallic threads into the weave for more depth and texture. It also offered a number of sculpted and shorn jacquards in bold color combinations.
Solids remain a towel mainstay, of course. But manufacturers found a way to enliven this business as well, through bright colors (what Baltic’s Lipton referred to as the “back-to-school” palette), more intricate dobby details, jacquard borders, waffle weaves (from Christy) and licensed names, such as Amy Butler for Welspun and Candice Olson for Venus.
Myriad constructions, fibers and different types of cotton were showcased during the market as well. Organic cotton towels were among the feature-laden offerings, but some executives have begun to question how salable organic towels are. It is hard to justify the higher price points and difficult to convey the benefits of organic towels, some vendors said.
Loftex decided to emphasize a more traditional construction. Pumice is a 100 percent ring-spun cotton with a drier hand and quick-drying properties. The market has become oversaturated with low-twist constructions, according to Miranda Busillo, Loftex’s marketing director, and consumers have been asking for a return to this type of towel.