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Lots of luxe in Atlanta: the international fine linen & home textiles market placed new emphasis on upscale.

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ATLANTA -- The premiere of the International Fine Linen & Home Textiles Market, held concurrently with AmericasMart's Atlanta Spring Gift, Home Furnishings & Holiday Market, March 10 through 12, represented a new emphasis on the luxury textiles category, and new shopping opportunities for specialty retailers.

Approximately 75 new vendors exhibited about 200 lines in a temporary exhibit hall on the 10th floor, in the Home Accents & Fine Linens Center, which includes 100 permanent showrooms on floors 9 and 10 in Building 1 of the Mart. Exhibitors included major companies, such as Springs Performance, showing its Court of Versailles collection; Welspun, introducing and expanding several luxury lines; JLA Home, exhibiting its Natori brand; and smaller independents making their Atlanta debut.

AmericasMart's launch of the show came at an opportune time, since the New York Home Textiles Show has been integrated into the International Gift Fair, which takes place in February and August. The show is especially convenient for specialty buyers, who buy closer to season than major retailers; may not want to go to New York in February; and appreciate the intimacy a small show offers.

"We had profound encouragement from both the exhibitor and buyer side to do this," said Jo Ann Miller-Marshall, senior vice president of trade shows at AmericasMart, who said the Mart plans to continue and expand the show at every March market. "We're sensitive to the fact that fine linens buyers like to have appointments set, and receive the kind of one-on-one attention that gets lost in the shuffle of a major market."

While traffic was relatively light on opening day, vendors were excited about the new venue and its potential.

"Atlanta saw an opportunity to capture some of [the luxury linens] business and build something more specific, and they've done a beautiful job," said Janelle Jarous Lampp, president of Janelle Style Designs, which was introducing a

"bridge" line of highly embellished, silk decorative pillows at the market.

"This show makes sense in many ways," said Robert Hamilton, marketing director at Welspun USA. "It's better for the calendar, better for retailers' seasons and it gives vendors who show in High Point the opportunity to do this show, too." Welspun, which was introducing several highend collections, including 100 percent Egyptian cotton Luxus sheets and towels, had seen a lot of specialty and online retailers, as well as decorators looking for institutional and hospitality linens, Hamilton said.

"It is an inaugural show, and we expected traffic to be light," said Scott Howard, vice president of sales for JLA Home, exhibiting for its first time in Atlanta. "We've had some good conversations and met new customers," he said. Showing JLA's Natori collection of designer bedding, throws and pillows, Howard said, "We wanted to reach a different group of customers that don't shop New York, for us and for Natori. And Atlanta is a very important market. It's how you reach the independent luxury retailer. We will be back."

Rasa Devi Enterprises, a 2-year-old California-based company also making its Atlanta debut, plans to return as well, said Karen M. Kubsch, owner of the company. Rasa Devi imports high-end silk duvets, quilts, throws and pillows from India. "A smaller show may be good--you have more serious buyers," Kubsch said. "We've made some really good contacts, including small boutiques, designers and major catalogs, including the Smithsonian."

The temporaries also generated traffic in nearby permanent showrooms, including Design South Africa, which opened its showroom in January.

"We're very excited about the new show. It's bringing in a lot of designers and higher-end stores, which are perfect for our collection," said Lana Quibell, president of the company, whose lines included hand-painted fabrics; handwoven mohair throws and rugs; decorative accessories; pillows; and embroidered bed linens.

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Title Annotation:the markets: textiles
Author:Musselman, Faye
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Mar 19, 2007
Words:621
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