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Bedding Takes on Activewear Properties

Performance properties are no longer solely for apparel—bedding now incorporates some of the smart traits consumers seek from activewear.

Former collegiate basketball coaches Michelle Marciniak and Susan Walvius, co-founders of performance fabric bedding and sleepwear company, Sheex, developed patented smart bedding with optimal thermal conditions powered by Sleep Fit technology.

“When you think of Sheex, we want people to think about sleep, but there’s nothing traditional about our brand,” Marciniak said. “It’s sexy, it’s edgy, it’s cool, its different, it’s new, it’s innovative, it’s not what you traditionally think of when you think of a sleepwear brand. It’s a special kind of niche in the marketplace because of that.”

Sheex transfers body heat two times more effectively than cotton, according to the company, which allows the body to cool itself and promote faster, deeper sleep. Sheex are cooler to the touch than cotton sheets and are said to breathe nearly 50 percent better to keep sleep-disrupting temperature fluctuations at bay.

“It’s very similar to athletic wear, moisture wicking, temperature control, breathability, transfer of heat—all of those same attributes that are in athletic clothing, that’s what we’ve brought into your sleep experience with our bedding,” Marciniak said.

While working as a basketball coach, Marciniak said she and co-founder Walvius witnessed an evolution of athletes coming in with highly technical fabrics for their workout gear. Marciniak loved one particular pair of workout shorts for its performance traits and how it felt when she was running, and Walvius loved it for its drape and feel and said she’d almost love to sleep in it—and the idea was born.

Sheex tracked Under Armour and watched the way the retailer grew its brand of performance athletic wear. “We watched them and we studied them and we felt like we could do the same things with this new category with a retailer like Bed Bath and Beyond,” Marciniak said.

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“Everyone has a temperature story when they sleep at night,” Marciniak said, explaining that when she discusses the brand, people acknowledge that they do sleep hot or kick their leg out to cool off during the night. “Talking about sleep is such an intimate experience, it becomes very personal. People don’t know they have a problem with their sleep and their temperature, so we are introducing the fact that they may, and helping to control their temperature issue,” she said.

In terms of wellness, diet and nutrition are the two pillars of health, and as Marciniak noted, sleep is the third. Some brands are trying to connect the dots between fitness and nutrition, but no one is selling anything that has to do with sleep, Marciniak said, and it is a key element to overall health and wellness.

Sheex consumers fall into three different demographics: the performance buyer, the technology/new age buyer and the prescription buyer. The performance buyer is the athlete or aspiring athlete that wants that edge, wants a few seconds off that mile and wants to perform better next day, Marciniak said. The tech consumer, most often a Millennial, wants the next greatest, most innovative thing with ultra comfort and performance—they want it all according to Marciniak. And the prescription consumer, the brand’s biggest, is solutions based and looking for an answer to night sweats, menopause, sleep apnea or even cancer-related symptoms.

Sheex was founded in 2007, started selling three and a half years ago and has since launched into 850 Bed Bath & Beyond stores, and has product for sale at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority and Brookstone. Sheex has grown from performance bed sheets to a full line of “top of the bed” performance cotton, fleece and sleepwear, and the company plans to expand its brand presence and square footage entering into Q3 2015.

Next year, Sheex intends to launch a new sleepwear performance line, which Marciniak touts as “very cool,” as well as upscale retail performance sleepwear and new iterations of the performance sheets, as part of its effort to become a global brand in the next five years.

Marciniak said she expects the performance bedding category to grow because of the “amazing sleep experience” it provides. And more brands are trying to tap into the category. Sheex has already filed a lawsuit against one line, BedGear for patent infringement, alleging that the company’s Dri-Tec Performance Sheets infringe on two of its patents.

“What we’re finding is our consumers are almost cult like. You may decide that in first night or after a week, but our consumers decide that there is going to be a trend of performance sleep, and Sheex is going to lead that trend.”