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Flexsteel, Wrangler roll out first phase of Series 47

Retail Editor 1, Gary Evans -- Furniture Today, April 9, 2007

Upholstery maker Flexsteel and VF Corp.'s Wrangler brand are debuting the Series 47 collection here, introducing 75 pieces of upholstery, accents and casual dining.

Series 47 follows the more traditional Wrangler At Home collection and is more contemporary and modern in look.

As it did with At Home, Flexsteel will roll out Series 47 in two phases, the second scheduled for the fall High Point Market, with bedroom and dining room.

This market's intro is aimed at the living room and great room and follows the same underlying Wrangler theme of comfort.

To highlight Series 47, Flexsteel is hosting a cocktail party from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28, featuring Trent Willmon, a national country recording artist, who will sing and sign autographs.

Series 47 targets young, well-educated professionals who seek a connection to their diverse American heritage amidst the fast pace of today's urban lifestyle, according to Flexsteel and Wrangler.

It's for the Crate & Barrel, Z Gallerie, Pottery Barn type of customer, people who are techno-savvy and likely to have a plasma TV, said Chip Piekenbrock, Flexsteel's director of retail development.

Flexsteel used the new line to decorate a loft in Dubuque, Iowa, its headquarters city, and brought in 15 key accounts to see the furniture and make suggestions.

Piekenbrock said the collection will ship in late summer, in time for the fall selling season.

The earlier At Home collection, with new pieces being added this market, "has exceeded our expectations," he said.

Inspired by the straight lines and clean planes of vintage American furniture designs, the Series 47 collection — the name comes from 1947, the year Wrangler jeans were introduced — combines function and elegance with comfort and durability, according to Flexsteel and Wrangler. It uses gently distressed hardwoods finished in warm shades of acorn and espresso, along with leather and tactile fabrics.

Some accent pieces feature brushed and hammered metals and touches of glass.

Sofas in the collection start at $899.

Piekenbrock said the company has been working on the Series 47 launch for some time. It coincides with the end of the company's contract with designer and TV personality Christopher Lowell, whose collection Flexsteel has been producing for several years.

George Weldon, director of licensing for the Wrangler Home brand, said the collection offers furnishings that "blend the clean, uncluttered air of modern design and the warm, comfortable ambience of the traditional American home."

"In selecting the materials for this collection, we focused on beauty, comfort, quality, durability and environmental sustainability," he said. "Today's young consumers have a clear preference for environmentally friendly products, and we responded to that preference by choosing sapele, or African white walnut, for our hardwood surfaces."

Weldon said sapele is a renewable resource "that offers exceptional workability and longevity, along with handsome graining. Over the long run, choices such as this one will significantly reduce the demand for currently endangered species such as mahogany and ironwood."

Flexsteel has doubled the size of its showroom in the International Home Furnishings Center, space C-558.

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