Homeowners have luxury bedding trend covered
Back when America was a collection of colonies, wills often included bed linens, if the deceased had been lucky enough to own them. Sheets and coverlets were considered extremely valuable and precious enough to be bequeathed to the next generation.
Those hand-woven textiles didn’t have a patch on the luxury linens of today, some of which approach heirloom status. And even if you don’t leave them to the kids, there are still distinct pleasures to be gained from today’s burgeoning market of luxury bedding, say those at the helm of the industry.
Sferra sells its high-end Italian-made linens throughout the world. Company president Paul Hooker says there is a whole new awareness of high-quality bedding in America, and sheets are part of it.
“Home was accentuated with 9/11, and all of a sudden we drew more into ourselves, we traveled less, we spent more money (on) home,” Hooker says. “The double-income workers have more disposable income, and they want to come home to comfort and luxury. That’s where the luxurious bedding comes in.”
The Sferra customer can choose from among a range of thread counts and “finishes” as well as colors and patterns, from crisp 400-thread-per-inch-count cotton percale to 650-count damask, from palest pink to a rich peach with a silken scroll you can scarcely see.
“As you move up the luxury scale, you have more choices,” says Hooker, adding that finely made sheets show attention to color, attention to design and attention to finishing details. This attention translates to a difference that the consumer can feel. Among the selections from Sferra this fall is a set of 1,020-thread count sheets with insets of handmade lace. The Burano Lace sheets, introduced to celebrate Sferra’s 115th year in business, are available for $15,000 per set. Only eight sets are available this year, and three have already been reserved.
“It makes sense to spend on something you use every day,” says Lauren Zeligson, owner of Labrazel Home in West Hartford (Conn.) Center. In her shop, opened four years ago this month, Zeligson offers an array of luxury linens, custom-embroidered sheets and even high-end linens for cribs and children’s beds.
“People are definitely ‘cocooning,'” she says, adding that one’s home should create the comfort level of a luxury hotel every night. “Your home is your nest.”
Most of the linens she carries are from Europe, particularly Italy and France, where there is a long tradition of fabric weaving and “finishing,” the term used for the final “surface” of a fabric – silky, crisp or sateen.
That final finished surface and how it feels to the human hand is called, appropriately, the “hand.”
“In Europe, they don’t obsess about thread count the way we do here,” Zeligson says. “They talk about hand.” A high-thread-count sheet woven of inferior thread won’t be as soft as a lower-count sheet of quality thread.
“You want your linens to be livable and not too delicate, and yet luxurious,” she says. Zeligson maintains that quality linens not only feel better against one’s skin, they also last longer. “Years out,” she adds, “you only love them more.”
White is the top-selling color in sheets, but the whole color wheel comes into play at Reale Letto, a California company that designs custom bed treatments for well-heeled clients throughout the country.
“The people who choose us are looking for luxurious bedrooms and products for their home,” says Debra Cockrum, Reale Letto’s vice president of sales, who says she notices regional differences in the kinds of luxury details customers request. “Florida likes lighter fabrics, New Jersey likes cleaner lines and a little heavier fabric. Georgia loves silks and ruffles, and the more beads (on pillows), the more they like it!”
Asked whether she can tell the difference between expensive and moderately priced sheets, she said, “I can now. I used to think people were being pretentious (about thread count), but now I can really tell. The 450 and 600 (thread count) sheets just make you want to float on top of your bed.”