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Designs on luxury: designer brands, presented in shop concepts, mark Bloomingdale's bedding department.

NEW YORK -- Bloomingdale's bedding department offers a variety of brands and collections that appeal to those who enjoy--and aspire to---a luxury lifestyle.

The major bedding designer brands including Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan are all well represented in the bedding area. Also to be found are collections from Barbara Barry, Michael Kors, Court of Versailles, Waterford Linens, Sferra Bros., Peacock Alley and Hudson Park. Thread counts of 400 to 500 on sheets are the norm rather than the exception.

The textiles assortment, "with many designers, major brands and limited distribution resources exemplifies the true spirit of the Bloomingdale's brand," said Liz Barley, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of domestics for Bloomingdale's. "It's fashionable, upscale and heavily weighted to the luxury part of the business. Designer bedding continues to be our fashion driver within textiles, and our fastest-growing category."

Ralph Lauren dominates the bedding space of the Bloomingdale's store at the Short Hills Mall in New Jersey. As the shopper descends to the store's lowest level, the Ralph Lauren shop is the first thing seen in the domestics department. This shop's perimeter measures approximately 200 running feet, and the other designer areas surround this mammoth presentation.

Joe Granger, senior vice president of Ralph Lauren Home, said of the Bloomingdale's presence, "Bloomingdale's has always been an integral part of the [Ralph Lauren] Home business. They have consistently set the benchmark in terms of assortment, presentation and marketing."

While the other brands have considerably less space, they are no less grateful for what Bloomingdale's means to their overall business. "As a key brand for the department store, Calvin Klein Home has benefited by significant exposure to their well-informed and modern customer base," said Bentley Hardwick, Calvin Klein Home's vice president and managing director.

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The Court of Versailles offerings are "a perfect marriage for the brand as not only a platform for its rich history, but also in context of today's most prestigious home brands," said Edward Cardimona, chief global creative officer for Springs Global, which manufactures the Court of Versailles line. Bloomingdale's has been and continues to be "the premier retail storyteller of the fine home experience," Cardimona added.

"Having both Sferra and 1891 by Sferra in Bloomingdale's top stores has helped build our brand awareness," said Arleen Quam, sales manager for Sferra Bros. "Sferra was very happy to have Bloomingdale's as one of our launch partners for 1891 by Sferra and through this partnership, we have been able to reach a new and expanded customer base."

In Granger's view, the emphasis on brands sets Bloomingdale's apart from other department stores' domestics area. "Bloomingdale's has stayed brand-/designer-focused in home while their department-store competition has become very private-brand-drive," he said. And it works, too. "If you look at Bloomingdale's trend in textiles versus the balance of the department stores over the last six or seven years, you will find that supports their strategy as well," Granger said.

The Bloomingdale's emphasis on "luxury, fashion, quality and great value," as Bailey expressed it, continues in the store's basic-bedding offerings. Barley said the store also has "a very strong down comforter and pillow business." The centerpiece in this section is the Down Shop, which is presented at the Short Hills store with samples of the various down comforters displayed, plus signage explaining each of the brands of down comforters.

These brands include Hudson, Mercer, Metropolitan, Chelsea, Tribecca and Madison, all of which are filled with European white goose down. Chelsea features Hungarian white goose down. Also in the Down Shop are wall displays of Devorah down comforters by Waterford, and Eileen West-branded down pillows on a floor display.

The latter grouping is manufactured by United Feather & Down. Bob Hickman, the company's vice president of sales and marketing, said the program "is perfectly suited to provide Bloomingdale's with the innovation and exclusivity unique and desirable of both private-label and designer brands."

Bloomingdale's has tweaked its decorative- and basic-bed assortments by adding new brands that speak to high fashion.

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"The home department at Bloomingdale's exhibits more fashion brands today than in the past," Hardwick said, "and there is more of a focus on enhancing the bedding offering with accessories such as [decorative] pillows and throws."

In basic bedding, "Bloomingdale's continues to better their assortment as the years go on," said Beth Mack, chief merchandising officer for Hollander Home Fashions. "The original signature bed-pillow program was a printed 233-thread-count fabric with garneted fill. It has evolved into a 300-thread-count, cotton sateen with embroidery, filled with down-alternative fill."

The continual upgrading of assortments and addition of brands key Bloomingdale's focus on luxury in the bedroom--and this focus is evident in the retailer's newly opened stores. The most recent new stores are located in Chevy Chase, Md., and San Francisco and Costa Mesa, Calif.

Reviewing the new locations, Quam said, "I have noticed that the product really stands out on their shelves and fixtures. In addition, I think the visual department is doing a great job of cross-merchandising the products within their home areas."

Cardimona said the new stores reflect "on the consumer's desire for a better life. From what we're seeing in Bloomingdale's new stores and in their products, it looks like Bloomingdale's is effectively considering and answering these consumer needs and wants."

The Chevy Chase store represents a departure for the domestics department. It features a boutiquelike layout that doesn't have vendor shops such as the Ralph Lauren Home that takes up so much of the domestics space in other stores.

Granger said, "We understand what Bloomingdale's is trying to achieve with the home department at Chevy Chase, and the need to build a home floor that is productive as they consider expanding stores. While that concept is very interesting in terms of the lifestyle approach, it does somewhat fly in the face of our desire to exude our brand through our in-store presentation. With having said that, we are working very closely with them on these new projects, and will, as we always do, find a common ground together that works for us both."
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Title Annotation:like no other store
Author:Gill, David
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Apr 21, 2008
Words:1013
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