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Retailers Beware: Manufacturers May be Beating You at Brand Storytelling

Today, consumers want to buy a story. And they want that story to tell a tale of sustainability and wellness, deliver on traceability and transparency, plus satisfy a very specific need. All at once.

While brands struggle to deliver on that message, sitting in storytelling seminars and wiling away hours in marketing meetings, manufacturers may be winning the game retailers didn’t know they were playing—because few know product and the demands of the market like they do. And more and more, they’ll rely less and less on retailers to deliver that message to consumers.

At Heimtextil this week in Frankfurt, Germany, India’s Himatsingka launched Himêya, a new lifestyle and bedding brand rooted in a story based on care, consciousness and sustainability, three ares in which millennial and Gen Z shoppers, in particular, are increasingly concentrating their disposable dollars.

“We’re thinking ahead,” Akanksha Himatsingka, CEO of EMEA and Asia Pacific, and creative director and brainchild behind the Himêya brand, said. “Everyone talks about sustainability. It’s easy to talk about organic, but what Himêya really does is it works with source, it works with the best of manufacturing. We’ve pushed the boundaries with finishes that are bio-based and enhance with every wash.”

What Himêya (a name derived from Himatsingka and the Sanskrit word “ameya,” meaning boundless and pure) endeavors to do with its collection is bring as much nature back into the product as possible, and therefore bring greater balance and restfulness to consumers cozying up with their pillows and sheets.

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The Semul pillow, for one, returns to a centuries-old process using Semul cotton indigenous to India as a natural fill, yielding a pillow that’s 100 percent organic and sustainable because the fibers emerge from blooms in the kapok tree, which doesn’t have to be harmed in harvesting.

When it’s not using Semul cotton, Himêya tracks and traces all of its ethically sourced, high-quality cotton, employing the aid of Applied DNA Sciences to tag the fibers at the gin level.

“With the DNA we’re able to test the purity of the cotton at each step of the journey,” Himatsingka chief marketing officer Jannice Cameron-Chapital said. “So it’s not just a blockchain and a ledger to fill out.”

And answering the call for traceability and transparency, the tag at the back of each product outlines the path from farm to home. (It also bears a QR code that connects consumers to Sounds of Himêya, an original soundtrack that further drives home the brand’s balance and restfulness message).

Collections and products aren’t named without the message in mind either. Himêya’s new collection for bed, bath and home is dubbed Vitamin D because “to live simply in these times is a positive challenge; nourishment resides in moments of sun-drenched skin, and feelings of buoyancy that arrive as radiant messengers of hope.” Colors are accordingly vibrant and at once nostalgic, giving a subtle sense of the outdoors and the calm that comes with it.

The lightweight cotton Gamchha towel, named for the Hindi word for towel, is crafted in the heritage style of Indian towels with a honeycomb weave on one side, but balanced with the modern element of terry cloth on the other. That marriage of heritage and modern mindfulness plays into the Heritage Lux trend, one of the defining themes for home textiles today.

Himêya’s Gol lumbar pillow is named for the Hindi word for round, with a cotton case that can be removed and washed, then re-tied at either end when replaced.

Tackling the ongoing issue of waste, Himêya’s Rescue Towels are made from the selvedge production waste from other towels, woven into patterns that don’t skimp on design considering their source. Twenty percent of the sales from these hand towels, Himatsingka said, will go to support the International Rescue Committee.

“Himêya is more than a bedding and bath brand—it is a lifestyle that reminds us to remain grounded, to cherish and respect each other, and our planet,” Himatsingka said. “The soul and spirit of Himêya is about living with less, to find more; to discover balance in our everyday. Making different choices takes confidence; yet what gives an idea language and dimension is resonance.”

The less-is-more mentality remains at the core of both the Himêya brand and conscious consumers’ efforts to consume less and better, and find ways to bring waste back into the fold in contribution to the circular economy. This level of alignment will be what brings loyalty for brands in the foreseeable future.