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Keeping slipcovers from slipping.

NEW YORK - The double-digit return rate that has plagued the slipcover business is due in part to their loose fit, which can make them look disheveled with use. The "drape it, tuck it, skirt it" approach may be easy on, but it's also easy off, requiring constant retucking.

Then there's the pleating required to properly cover many styles of chairs and sofas. This takes skill, and no amount of upholstery pins can take its place.

Enter PRescient Partners, which has taken the slipcover business by storm with solutions to both problems. The company's patent-pending fittingPretty system comes with clips to lock in pleats and skirts easily, without upholstery pins and grips for keeping slipcovers from slipping.

"I don't think the woman who agonizes over the fit of her clothing doesn't have the same expectation of her slipcover, especially it looks so gorgeous in the photo," said managing general partner Paula Riley, adding, "Retailers have been too caught up in color and fabric rather than function."

The systems are carried by a channel of trade that has been particularly hard hit by returns: catalogers, including Domestications, Spiegel, Touch of Class, Bloomingdale's by Mail, Seventh Generation and Solutions. And the accessories will soon be in the Pottery Barn and Eddie Bauer catalogs.

The delta-shaped grips, which are pushed down between the seat cushion and the frame to secure the furniture covers, are made of clear, flexible elastomer that bends to accommodate the shape of the furniture. When notches are carved into them, they can even be used for a barrel chair. The grips are packaged three to a unit (one for the back and two for the arm pieces) and retail for $19.99 (chair) and $24.99 (love seat or sofa).

The clip system is a bit more complicated, but ultimately requires less dexterity than working with upholstery pins. A kit contains a cinch clip, elastic cinch belt, pleating clips and skirt clips.

After the slipcovers are draped and tucked, but before skirting, a cinch band fits over the cover. The belt is threaded through the cinch clip for a custom fit, and the pleating and skirt clips attach to the cinch band. The pleating clips are for "perfect pleats that stay in place," said Riley. The skirt clips are "to keep the skirt tightly in place without pins."

Like the grips, the clips retail for $19.99 (chair) and $24.99 (love seat or sofa).

Riley said that while the gadgets "cost more money to the end user, if a client has something that looks perfect, it's worth it. "

Riley noted the fittingPretty system - which takes about 15 minutes to do - allows the consumer to change slipcovers on a whim, which could translate into an increase in the slipcover sales for retailers.

"You could dress the sofa for a party, or for the holidays," Riley said. "I can imagine a dismal day in January putting on geranium covers."

Riley said the products are concealed by the fabric. "Everything we do is invisible. Its like the Wonderbra; you should never know it's there."
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Author:Adler, Sam
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Sep 11, 1995
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