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Luxe's new level: Crown Crafts aims to set new standard.

NEW YORK--Crown Crafts will raise its luxury bedding to new heights at April market with the introduction of a silk weave jacquard and a 410-thread count sateen, in a move to clearly establish itself as the leader in this segment.

Crown Crafts will unveil a new top-of-the-line sheeting and outer bed program, Royal Sateen Silk, which combines 60 percent cotton sateen with 40 percent silk using a new process. The first offering is a elaborate jacquard design in all natural. In addition, the company continues to raise the thread counts on its Royal Sateen program to a new high of 410, replacing the 330 count. It also has added 270 and 310 counts, replacing the 220 and 260, respectively.

Crown Crafts, which brought luxury bedding from linen shops to the mainstream better store trade starting in 1989, has been facing increased competition from domestic sheeting mills and other independent suppliers.

The goal is to distinguish the company's luxury offerings at every level from opening prices to top of the line, said Michael Bernstein, president and chief executive.

"It's designed to regain our leadership position in the category," said Lou Casali, national sales manager. "Our intention is to separate ourselves from the pack. We led the charge in luxury bedding This is our way of continuing the growth."

The company has been moving thread counts up while maintaining prices since October market.

"As we've learned more about the technology of high-count weaving, we've lowered our costs and, therefore, we can offer our customer and ultimately the consumer higher thread counts at lower costs," Bernstein explained.

Pricing for Royal Sateen twin sheets range from $19.99 twin in 270 count to $100 for 410. Pricing had not been set as of press time for Royal Sateen Silk; only queen and king sizes will be available and pillowcases will be sold individually.

And Crown Crafts has learned that consumers are willing to pay more if a perceived value and quality is there. It reached new highs at fall market with the launch of Kenmare, a printed velvet bedding ensemble, exclusively for Federated, that has been well-received.

"Today what is perceived as moderate was considered luxury eight years ago," said Rudy Schmatz, vice president of sales and marketing. "Stores are running price points that they wouldn't in the past because consumers are demanding better looks and better quality."

The new 410 beds being introduced are Parisian Brocade, a woven jacquard using intricate weaving techniques; and Duchess, which incorporates a heavyweight woven damask for the outer bed and two-toned medallion jacquard for the sheets and pillow cases.

In addition to higher thread counts, Crown also has set its spring '97 luxury collection apart from the plethora of heat-transfer jacquards currently on the market with differentiated fabrics and embellishments including embossed crocodile velvet, burnt-out silk, chenille tapestry and embossed damasks.

New looks range from Serengetti, a duvet collection combining a subtle em brodiered snow leopard end en embossed crocodile velvet to Earls Court, a masculine looking paisley medallion print on velvet with wool tweed and chenille trim. Crown also is expanding its solid-color Royal Sateen program to work with all of its luxury fabrics to truly allow consumers to coordinate sheets with top of the bed, Bernstein noted.

A 310 Radiance dobby stripe sheet collection offered in nine colors from traditional ecru and candlight to fashion-forward guava rose coordinates with embroidered velvet top of the bed and accessories in the same palette.

In other franchises, Crown is adding to Colonial Williamsburg a new construction, a quilted matelasse comforter; and corduroy and wool apparel fabrics to Timberlake, building on the success of its denim bedding. A fleece bed, Artic Plush, will be introduced in the studio collection. C]
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Author:Frinton, Sandra
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Mar 25, 1996
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