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New Lazar upholstered furniture line aimed at Gen Y

Should hit retail in next few weeks
 Lazar uses a graffiti-inspired fabric on its Quid chairs, part of the new 20-SMTHN collection.Lazar uses a graffiti-inspired fabric on its Quid chairs, part of the new 20-SMTHN collection.
LOS ANGELES — A new collection of sofas, sectionals and chairs from Lazar Inds. aimed at the 80 million-strong Gen Y group may serve as a test for tightly targeted home furnishings for that demographic.

The collection called 20-SMTHN - text-message lingo for 20-something - is expected to hit retail in the next few weeks.

Gen Y, also called Echo Boomers and Millenials, are people born between 1982 and 2002, the oldest of whom are in their late 20s. With buying power estimated at $200 billion a year - not counting the influence it has on parental spending -Gen Y is a group to be reckoned with, Lazar says.

The California contemporary specialist is going after the group with a collection of six arm styles, two-piece chaise sectionals and covers that it says reflect the generation's zest for color.

20-SMTHN is driven by fabrics, with 40 chosen for Gen Y but mixable with other base solids in Lazar's line. Design themes include graffiti and big bold numbers, reds, bright oranges and fluorescent hues that mimic cell phone and computer colors. The sofas retail for $899 and $999.

Lazar President Rob Luce said the line is smaller in scale, intended for the condos, apartments and townhouses occupied by people graduating from college, getting married or leaving home for a life on their own.

"What we decided was to tap into that first-time 20-something buyer by creating a fabric program which spoke to them, which we did. We've had tremendous response (from buyers at market)," Luce said.

He said the line will hit retail at a chain in the West, which he didn't identify because of pending contracts. It will be promoted on the Internet, where Gen Y lives - through Facebook and Lazar's website.

At retail, displays of less than 1,000 square feet will replicate graffiti and text message graphics used in the Lazar showroom, which should draw attention, Luce said.

"It will be very interesting to see if it resonates with the consumer, and I expect that it will, because that is how these young people talk to each other and how they communicate," he said.

Although intended for a young group, the line won't be limited because the zany covers can be replaced with other Lazar fabrics that appeal to any age, Luce said.

Debra Venti, Lazar's showroom and fabric merchandiser, said the company's design team looked at the Gen Y environment and "saw that there was color everywhere you look right now" - in cars, laptop cases, cell phones and clothing.

"It hit me that this younger generation is hip, cool, and they want nothing that Mom has," she said. "They want color."

To validate their findings, the Lazar designers and management turned to a trusted and opinionated focus group - their own kids. Venti, who noted that her own college-age daughter has a yellow Jeep and wears lots of green and purple, got reviews via text messages on her cell phone.

"My generation had to learn to text to keep up with our kids," said Venti.

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