The fact that the movie “Nomadland” won an Oscar last year was telling. While the pandemic forced many people to hunker down at home, other more peripatetic consumers hit the road. Sales and rentals of RV’s and AirBNBs soared, as free-spirited people redefined what home meant to them, often taking it with them, or recreating it at each step of the journey.
Hiking and other nature-driven activities also accelerated, as people rightfully equated the outdoors with health and newfound freedom. Homes were remodeled to bring the outside in—and the inside out—via newly open spaces that melded indoor spaces with outdoor patios. Entertaining decks got bedecked with heat lamps, grills and fire pits, not to mention chic throw blankets and pillows.
Himatsingka, which has 15 brands in its portfolio and manufactures home textiles for some of the biggest retailers across the globe, sees this paradigm shift as a huge opportunity. And not just for brands thinking about expanding into home, but for those already in it to reimagine the category’s boundaries.
“As long as brands and retailers are willing to rethink the definition of home, there are major opportunities to reinvent home products, both from a functional perspective and a design one,” says Akanksha Himatsingka, CEO, International Operations (Home Textiles).
Take towels, for example. If you’re traveling in an RV, camping (or “glamping”), or just want to be more sustainable, it makes more sense to get a more absorbent, quick-dry towel that has less bulk and uses less water to dry, and maybe has smaller, unexpected dimensions. Ditto for blankets, as some people travel with their own blankets but want something more portable.
Home and other lifestyle products could be a natural extension for outdoor or athleisure brands. “There’s so much opportunity to play into that space, because if customers trust a known brand to give them the right kind of comfort for an outdoor adventure, they will trust that brand into giving them a curated home collection for that,” Himatsingka said.
Home is our safe space. We start our day at home, and return home after each daily commute or vacation, and in some cases, we’re even at home all day. “It’s such an interesting time now for brands and retailers to get creative [in this category]. There are many new fiber blends now in play, new finishes and innovations, plus so much happening on the sustainability front,” Himatsingka said.
Even textiles that never leave the home are getting a remodel. While bedding must be comfortable at home, now more than ever, it must be comforting. “Comfort bedding is like sleeping in your favorite tee or pajamas,” Himatsingka said. “And there is no fuss about how it looks in the morning. It’s easy, and this generation is all about ease.”
She cites brand client Calvin Klein as a great example of a brand with potential to rethink home comfort even further. “They have recently launched Reconsidered Comfort as their new underwear line, with a conscious and natural bent. We have been delivering comfort bedding for them for some years now and feel there’s a great opportunity to expand that narrative,” Himatsingka said.
The children’s home textiles space is buzzing with opportunity as well, and brands often grow with the child.
Himatsingka’s latest venture is the Disney license for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), for Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, etc., and the company is having fun transitioning the story of the characters into the home space.
It’s not all about printing colorful characters onto sheets and other bedding items, however, and there are also more subtle color palettes and branding. “Character bedding has always been about print,” said Himatsingka. “But we’re exploring these genres further with interesting solid towels embellished with character embroidery, and exploration of character art into products such as jacquard towels and sheets.”
Our objective is to not just create bedding with beloved characters from old films and new, but bringing these characters alive into your home tastefully, she said.
Packaging for home textiles is another area ripe for transformation. Many brands are not only doing away with plastic packaging altogether but using packaging that can be repurposed for something else. Maybe a tote bag, maybe a lunch napkin. “It’s something to weave into the narrative, especially for children’s licensed items,” Himatsingka said.
And for bedtime? “We have a Pixar bed that says ‘Only Good Days Ahead,’” Himatsingka said. “And what’s a better message than that for kids today?”
To learn more about Himatsingka and its home textile capabilities, click here.