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CUT FROM A WHOLE NEW CLOTH: ADVANCES FOCUS ON PERFORMANCE.

NEW YORK-Performance is the name of the game in home textiles.

From upholstery fabrics to mattress pads and pillows to sheets and towels, suppliers are talking about stain-resistance and waterproof attributes, custom fit and comfort, and anti-microbial technology

"Performance is going to be the next big story for furniture," said Randy Rubin, co-founder of Hi-Tex Inc., maker of Crypton fabrics, which are impermeable to liquids, resist stains and clean easily. "There has to be something new to talk about to consumers, and performance is it."

Hi-Tex's Crypton fabrics were introduced to the residential upholstery market this year and already five furniture manufacturers -- including Thomasville, American Leather and Laneventure -- have signed up to use Crypton on their upholstered products.

For consumers who are concerned about a clean and safe environment, Microban Americas has a solution. Its microban technology inhibits the growth of odor and stain-causing bacteria, mold and mildew.

"The benefits are built in to continue fighting microbes that cause odors and stains so that furniture [with Microban-treated fabric] stays cleaner and fresher between normal cleanings," said Bill Henry, president of Microban Americas.

Microban launched an exclusive agreement with Sunbury Textile Mills for the latter to apply its technology. Microban fabrics will ship to Thomasville retail dealers in the first quarter.

Heading toward mattress pads, pillows and down-alternative comforters is Invista's anti-bacterial and anti-fungal fiber. Invista, the former DuPont Textiles & Interiors division, helped Springs Industries develop its Smart Comfort program, which offers a variety of special fibers and treatments that have been adapted from ready-to-wear.

Randy Spence, president of basic bedding at Springs, said the program features Amicor Pure, an allergen-reduction fiber. "In the past, the [allergy] issue has always been addressed with the fabric treatment," he said. "With Amicor Pure, we can use all-cotton covers but still benefit from allergen reduction."

Spence said he expects the company to expand the assortment of Amicor Pure-filled products as the line gains acceptance at retail. The products will be at retail in the first quarter of 2004. Product packaging will feature an endorsement by the British Allergen Foundation to convey the message.

Springs' introduction of Outlast technology, which helps regulate body temperature in bedding, is also gaining interest. Spence said the company plans to offer natural-filled products using Outlast, including down comforters, feather beds and down pillows.

Other fabric protectors have started moving into the fashion bedding arena, with apparel-driven brands like Liz Claiborne and Dockers introducing their own version of stain-resistance products in comforters and duvets during the last textiles market.

In sheets, Invista is getting ready to relaunch its Lycra stretch fiber with Springs next year. Invista had earlier partnered with Pillowtex, but the mill liquidated last summer. Towels are soon to get a makeover. Next on Invista's radar screen is a technology that resists mildew for bath towels. David Trerotola, vice president of home and industrial textiles at Invista, said the company plans to introduce a different type of towel next market.

Ira Livingston, senior vice president of consumer marketing at Cotton Incorporated, said other technologies that can enhance home products include moisture management, anti-microbial finishes, ultraviolet protection and abrasion-resistance.
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Comment:CUT FROM A WHOLE NEW CLOTH: ADVANCES FOCUS ON PERFORMANCE.
Author:Leizens, Leticia; Newby, Leslie; report, Sharyn Bernard contributed to this
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2003
Words:520
Previous Article:DOWN TIME; BLANKETS AND THROWS WITH NATURAL FILL ARE BECOMING MORE STYLISH AND POPULAR.
Next Article:NEW DELHI TO HOST TEX-STYLES INDIA...HOLLANDER WON'T SHOW AT HEIMTEXTIL...ISIDOR BLUMENTHAL IS DEAD AT 93.
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