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The Shifting Patterns in Home Textiles image

The Shifting Patterns in Home Textiles

By Mark Seavy

As the homewares business struggles with sluggish sales, retailers are leaning into licensing, expanding their owned brands, and reimagining seasonal offerings.

Slow first quarter sales were experienced across the category, especially for products like home textiles, which are viewed as non-essential by consumers.

To attract those reticent shoppers, some home textiles suppliers at the New York Home Fashion Market event last week sharpened their focus by going deeper with fewer brands. With these new, more streamlined portfolios, they can shepherd in brands that are new to licensing or relaunch legacy labels with a twist to catch the attention of new consumers.

Pem America, for example, is ending licensing agreements for Daymond John’s Fubu, Iconix Brands’ Rocawear, DotDash Meredith’s Coastal Living, and Charisma Brands’ Charisma labels for bedding. But, at the same time, it is launching a sub-brand—London Fog Supply Co.—across bedding and curtains in a bid to attract younger consumers not as familiar with a label that made its mark in trench coats. Pem also added a licensing deal for bedding and bath products under Borghese Roma’s skincare brand, which signed a brand representation agreement with Brentwood Licensing earlier this year.

Gordon Brothers, having acquired the Nicole Miller brand in 2022, is relaunching it in licensed home textile deals with Home Dynamix (rugs, mats, pet beds, window treatments) and Avanti Linens (bath rugs, towels, shower curtains).

Town & Country Living, meanwhile, is ending agreements with Nicole Miller, clothing designer Trina Turk, and chef Emeril Lagasse. Those changes come as Town & Country focuses on its designs around Whirlpool’s KitchenAid (kitchen textiles), Capri Holdings’ Kate Spade, and Marquee Brands’ Sur La Table labels, the latter of which was signed in fall 2023 and is launching this spring.

And while there was an emphasis on licensed brands during the New York Home Fashion Market show, some retailers’ strategy for home textiles is shifting to private labels.

Target, for example, focuses heavily on private labels for home textiles, while Sam’s Club is aiming to have its own brands represent 70% of the merchandise mix, industry executives said. Beyond Inc., formerly Bed Bath & Beyond, is reviving its own bedding brand, Wamsutta, with plans to forge a partnership with a “powerful and influential female leader in the coming weeks” to serve as creative director, Beyond executives said.

“People who know the legacy brands love them, but the question is how do we get that younger customer?” an executive at a licensed bedding supplier said. “The brand DNA is there, but you need to reach that younger audience. Heritage brands in their traditional form don’t resonate as much anymore because the retail buyers making the decisions are so young.”

Whether retailers are focused on licensed efforts or their own private labels, there is a growing emphasis on seasonal collections that can run year-round, textiles executives said. Retailers are seeking products that extend sales past a given season to avoid price markdowns. In home textiles, this can mean launching designs that feature festive plaids rather than fully committing to seasonality through the use of Santa imagery, for example. This minimizes risk, a textiles executive said.

“Seasonal is having a moment right now but it is being focused on a full year of sales rather than a certain time period,” said Judi Alvarez, VP of Licensing and Marketing at Town & Country Living, which has licenses for the Martha Stewart, Kate Spade, and Fiesta brands. “It is more than the one-time event now, because retailers like how it drives sales.”

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