By Allison Zisko
NEW YORK–Faced with increasingly pessimistic reports about the economy, bath executives are nonetheless retaining a positive outlook heading into the textiles show this week.
They are hoping their newest performance products, combined with an emphasis on health and wellness and a touch of affordable luxury will stimulate sales in the weeks ahead.
Bob Hamilton, marketing director of Welspun, acknowledges that it will be a “tough market,” but also believes that when the economy gets tight manufacturers become more willing to take risks with design and retailers become more creative in making a wall of towels more productive sales-wise.
“From that standpoint, it may be an exciting market,” Hamilton said.
Kurt Hamburger, president of Lintex, has a similar philosophy. He has scaled back expectations for this market slightly. “We’re not going to go overboard. We’re going to stabilize and continue basic items,” mixed in with a few fashion pieces, he said. “If [consumers] don’t have enough money to pay their mortgage, they’re not going to have enough money to buy a towel, or a sheet.”
Nevertheless, retailers still need to stock their shelves, and Hamburger believes that value-oriented promotions will fit the bill.
Both Hamilton and Hamburger noted renewed interest in jacquard towels after a long, solid color stretch. Welspun is introducing a collection of luxury jacquards while expanding its basic, Egyptian cotton collection with new colors. Lintex is offering the Tapestry collection of jacquard towels in soft muted hues under its Cobra division, in addition to an expanded line of solids in every price range and construction.
CHF Industries is introducing a coordinated collection of jacquard towels with animal prints. The collection mixes single and double jacquards to create a variety of options for the bathroom.
Welspun will also highlight its range of performance-based products that offer solutions to consumers. This includes its new Dry Soft line, a cotton and microfiber construction that promises to dry faster. This energy-conscious product—it spends one-third less time in the clothes dryer—was designed for both the environmentally conscious consumer and busy women who want to speed through their laundry.
Welspun is also tapping the wellness trend by introducing a collection of outdoor spa towels. Made from a combination of bamboo and cotton, these oversized towels fit the standard cushion of an outdoor chaise, making them both functional and decorative (and mindful of the popularity of the outdoor room).
New bathroom accessories also reflect consumers’ desire to pamper themselves and recreate the spa experience at home.
Among the introductions from Sitlax are a new spa line in all-white resin with a minimalist look, and Sea Foam, a full line of accessories in an icy blue. On the other end of the color spectrum are accessories in various tones of brown and copper, some made to resemble looks found in nature like wood or stone.
CHF has likewise tapped into a muted colorway with Winslow, resin accessories in amber with an oil-rubbed bronze base, while Croscill has launched a new line from designer Carol Shiber called Palm Tree Trio, a collection that emphasizes natural woven looks like rattan and bamboo.
According to Welspun’s Hamilton, dark brown is the number-one growth color for the bathroom. It has evolved from lighter shades such as cappuccino into deep, rich colorations that Hamilton believes will be offset by mineral hues or even shots of deep, rich pink.
The rich colors and opulent textures seen in bath introductions are also part of many new table linens and kitchen textiles. Oversized prints and patterns, natural fabrications and Moroccan-inspired looks were among the key fashion directions noted by Kate McLaughlin of Saro Trading Company, while Lorraine Mayberry, senior vice president of Trendex Home Designs, said her company will focus on “sophisticated opulence and rich textures.”