Among the bevy of designers planning home lines for 1998 are Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica and Prada. Bill Blass also has a deal for a furniture line with Pennsylvania House. Donna Karan, under new President John Idol, is said to be eyeing the home market as well.
These newcomers join veterans like Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Gianni Versace, who have been using publications such as Architectural Digest, Cosmopolitan and Town & Country to advertise their furnishings lines.
PIONEERED BY LAUREN
The pioneer was Ralph Lauren, whose home line was established in 1983.
"Our ads have always mixed the fashion and apparel," said Mark Reynolds, marketing director for Gianni Versace Home Signature. "It's all part of communicating the Versace lifestyle."
What is new is the ratcheting up of competitors in the field.
Versace itself is adding to its Home Signature collection, which includes everything from fabrics to fine china to gold toilet brushes, with a second line of more minimalist furniture. The influx is good news for magazines like Conde Nast Publications' Architectural Digest, which has capitalized on designers' sense of fashion for the home by encouraging marketing that bridges the two, said Publisher Peter K. Hunsinger.
In the October Architectural Digest, Ralph Lauren for its Polo Sport brand ran a 10-page ad package off the front cover that played up the melding of apparel and home design. The tagline: "Today, life is about really living it."
In the December issue, Neiman Marcus Co. inserted a gift guide that mixes designer home items with apparel advertising.
MORE ABOUT DESIGN
"Architectural Digest is a design magazine more than it is a shelter magazine, and designers are embracing that," said Mr. Hunsinger. "A lot of the designers are beyond just having a toe in the water in the home market, like Lauren, Calvin Klein and Versace. They are marketing their collections, both fashion and home, much more as a complete lifestyle."
At Town & Country, the household-furnishings category has grown by 24 pages over last year, up 54%, according to internal reckoning, said Publisher Molly Schaefer, fueled in part by designer collections.
"Because there is such a high recognition of designer names, consumers have said that knowing a name is attached to a product makes them feel better about purchasing it," said Ms. Schaefer, who added that the designers heading public companies also are offering new lines under pressure to grow their companies.
"They do have the pressure to top the quarter before," she said.
Stan Tucker, VP-fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue, said the market is