By Gretchen Kast
While many materials, such as cotton, foam and latex, have become increasingly expected in bedding products, certain manufacturers have taken a more unconventional approach. The benefits of using a variety of unique materials appeal to both consumer and retailer, and range from increased resiliency to added rejuvenating or antibacterial properties.
The aloe-enriched cover on Natura’s Aloe Dream Mate Latex Pillow releases soothing nutrients to tend to delicate facial skin. Magniflex includes bamboo, soy, and marine algae in its mattresses, citing their ability to “reduce skin irritation and inflammation, fight signs of aging and include amino acids that produce rejuvenating enzymes, essential to the body.”
Bamboo has become increasingly popular in bedding due to its diverse set of benefits. In addition to rejuvenating the skin, it offers added purification capabilities. South Bay mixes bamboo charcoal into its memory foam mattresses to absorb perspiration, neutralize humidity and unpleasant odors and decrease the potential for bacteria growth.
But unconventional doesn’t always mean non-traditional. Mattresses in India have historically been made with coconut fiber, or coir. This durable material retains its shape over long periods of time, which is one of the reasons that Palmpring replaced its mat- tresses’ metal springs with it. Because the dense fiber doesn’t retain heat or water, it eliminates the potential for mold and bacterial growth and repels any bugs.
Horsehair has similarly been used in bedding for centuries. Vi-Spring utilizes the silky hairs as an alternative to metal springs in part because they don’t break or lose flexibility, which results in added longevity. E.S. Kluft includes a thick layer of temperature regulating Danish horsehair in its Beyond Luxury Collection. Likewise, organic wool, like that used in Natura’s Latex Floral Mattress or Vi-Spring’s Masterpiece model, maintains a fresh sleep environment. These fibers are naturally mold resistant without added chemicals.
Phiten recently partnered with the Futon Shop to create the Organic Rejuvenating Fu- ton Mattress Collection, infused with Aqua-Titanium. This unique material is made from titanium—a lightweight metal known for its non-corrosive and hypoallergenic properties—that has been broken down into microscopic particles and dispersed in water. Used as a dye, the Aqua-Titanium is embedded directly into the mattress cover. Spirit Sleep utilizes Silver Science technology to infuse silver into mattress foam and fibers, which eliminates bacteria and dust mites.
The many attractive properties of these materials are not only beneficial to the consumer, but the retailer as well. Jamison’s English Garden collection incorporates an aloe vera emollient into the covering, which has “a soothing, calming effect and actually reduces friction between the mattress and the first layer of bed covering,” Ken Hinman, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing explains. These healing properties are a great selling point for retailers. “It gives our beds a soft touch on the retail floor, which positively impacts the consumer at the very beginning of the product experience.”
For the retailer, RSA education is an important step to maximizing the benefits of incorporating these materials. “When the salespeople are knowledgeable about the materials and can effectively convey their beneficial properties to the consumer, the unique products can serve as a “call to action” of sorts on a selling floor,” said Hinman. Magniflex Global Sales Director Marco Magni explained that “most people don’t think of their mattress as something that can really help them get their beauty sleep and physically improve their bodies,” which is why his company highlights unconventional benefits on their POP materials.
For the manufacturer, unconventional materials can be a bit more demanding due to complex processing. “The challenge is in sourcing the best materials,” said Earl, President of E.S. Kluft, while Magni cited “sourcing the right raw materials needed to fulfill the exact comfort and feel our [research and design] team had in mind when creating a new product” as a challenge for Magniflex. These companies are committed, though, to offering the consumer an enhanced sleep system that stands out from the rest, a benefit that outweighs any challenge.