The Truth Revealed About Luxury Bedding With Brooklinen
Want to know the secret to fancy schmancy bedding and a wonderful night’s sleep that doesn’t break the bank? Luxury bedding start-up Brooklinen shares their customer-raving formula for high-quality, fair cost bedding: Egyptian long-staple cotton, single-ply threads, 270+ thread count, and percale or sateen weaves. By cutting out the middleman and selling directly to the customer via Brooklinen.com, you no longer have to shop for your client’s duvet and sheet set at Bloomingdale’s.
Using Brooklinen bedding gives you as an interior designer a beautiful and comfortable canvas to build upon, add a few pillows and throws to create a textured, put together look. At the end of the day, you will be billing your clients for the re-design of their master bedroom, including a better night’s sleep as a bonus.
Brooklinen founders & bedding-whisperers, Vicki and Rich Fulop, share why interior designers love to use Brooklinen to furnish client bedrooms, their strategy to keep costs down, and the fundamental elements to great sheets.
Photography courtesy of Brooklinen
How is Brooklinen different than the other new bedding start-ups changing the bedding game?
Our quality! We spent over a year in R&D before we ever launched the brand to engineer the perfect sheets. They are completely customized to our design specifications from the cotton, to the weave, to the actual aesthetics, and there are settings in our finishing machinery that are completely custom to us, meaning other brands just won’t feel the same.
We’ve used that same R&D approach when developing new products, like our comforters and pillows, so that we can always innovate and offer the best product at the best price. And we have really cool mix-and-match functionality when you’re shopping the site – meaning that if want, you can mix and match our designs, which are all made to play well together, to style a set in a way that is very much your own.
Where we really do things differently is on the post-production front.
According to your research, why has luxury bedding historically been priced so high? How does Brooklinen manage to keep the costs down?
Historically, luxury bedding has been very expensive for a variety of reasons that fall into two general buckets: the production costs and the post-production costs. Production costs include materials and construction, while post-production includes everything else, i.e. a brick-and-mortar storefront in a prime location; selling at a department store (which needs a cut of the profits), licensing markups, and more. Thus, very broadly, high-end sheets are high priced because they are made from the best raw materials (long-staple cotton, for example), and because of their high post-production costs.
At the production front, our costs are effectively the same, if not higher, than the designer labels because we use long-staple cotton, construct our bedding using single-ply thread (which results in softer, smoother, and more durable bedding than multi-ply constructions and reflects true thread-count), and partner with leading factories in developed countries. This way, we use the highest-quality materials and craftsmanship, while manufacturing responsibly and sustainably.
Where we really do things differently is on the post-production front. The bulk of consumer sheet purchasing is still done in brick-and-mortar locations, which come with enormous markups. A brick-and-mortar storefront(s), especially in a prime location (the norm for a luxury brand), results in high rents and overhead fees. Selling at a department store adds cost as well, because the department store needs to cover costs such as rent and salaries, and make a profit. Finally, a brick-and-mortar brand also requires a distribution system (trucks, drivers, warehouses, etc.) to get the bedding to each of the stores and on the shelves.
Licensing and slotting fees, which are a little less obvious, add costs as well. Slotting fees ensure good shelf position and help a brand cut through the clutter in a department store. Licensing fees serve a similar function, wherein a bedding manufacturer can secure a designer-brand name license for their product to capitalize on the goodwill created by the designer brand. You’ve probably heard of this practice with sunglasses as well, where one company manufactures designer sunglasses for many brand-name designers via a license.
Cumulatively, these post-production costs add significantly to the price one pays for bedding without delivering additional value in terms of quality, design, or convenience. Total mark-ups from the post-production side of the business are often in the range of 5-10x the costs of production.
We keep costs down and offer such competitive pricing by cutting out the middlemen and selling direct-to-consumer from our website. We don’t have a storefront or sell in department stores, so we don’t have the associated fees. We put as large a percentage of the cost of our product into the materials and construction of our sheets as possible, and operate on a trimmed-down, efficient supply chain so that we can offer our customers an exceptional product at a great price.
Interior designers love to use Brooklinen to furnish client bedrooms because of the quality, aesthetic, and great price for the quality of the product.
Walk us through the Brooklinen process, from thread to bed?
It actually starts before the thread – the raw material is the first step to sheet greatness.
1. Material. The raw material we start with is crucial because it’s the foundation – every step in the sheet making process rests on the quality of material used to make the bedding. At Brooklinen, we use only long-staple cotton (“staple” is a term for cotton fiber) because the longer the staple, the softer and smoother the final product. Long-staple cottons are fine and strong, and can thus be spun into stronger, finer yarns, which in turn produce extremely soft and supple weaves. Shorter cotton fibers, or staples, can poke out of the weave, leading to a coarser, weaker fabric.
2. Ply. Sheets can be woven from single-ply or multi-ply threads, as mentioned above. We exclusively use single-ply threads, which can only be spun from long-staple cotton. Single-ply threads woven from long-staple cotton produce softer, longer-lasting sheets. Multi-ply yarns are a group of weaker fibers twisted together to create a false strength in one piece of thread. Mostly lower-grade, shorter-staple cottons are used to make multi-ply threads, which result in thicker, coarser and heavier sheets. Some manufacturers will also count each ply in one piece of thread to inflate thread counts, so confirming your sheets are made from single-ply yarns ensures that your thread count is as advertised, and works as a check to make sure high quality cotton was used in production. By using single-ply, long-staple cotton we are then able to construct our sheets using only 60 and 80 yarn-count threads, which are very fine and durable. The fineness of the threads strongly impacts the feel of a sheet. For example, picture the threads used to weave a burlap potato sack versus those used in a high-end business suit. As you can imagine, the fine threads used to create the suit result in a much smoother, lighter and softer fabric. The same applies to the sheets.
3. Thread count. Thread count matters, it’s just not the most important factor! But this is where it kicks in, because we’ve just made our threads, and now start the weaving process. Thread count is the number of threads woven together in a square inch of fabric. As the thread count rises, the fabric becomes softer, denser and warmer. Generally, the lower-end of thread count results in a lightweight, cool and crisp sheet, while the higher-end will be more tightly-woven, which means it will be a bit warmer, but also smoother and softer. However, anything below 250 may start to feel rough, and anything above 500 should be met with a heavy dose of skepticism as thread counts max out at 500 (thread counts advertised in excess of 500 are often misrepresented by manufacturers in order to trick customers, as they count not just each thread, but each ply spun together within each thread). Our Classic line is a 270 thread count, while our Luxe is a 480.
4. Weave. The weave of a fabric ultimately effects how it looks and feels, and is a matter of preference. Cotton sheets generally come in percale or sateen. The former, percale, is known as a “plain weave” – it’s a one-yarn-over and one-yarn-under weave that results in a matte finish with a cool, crisp feel. It’s especially perfect for the summer months or warmer sleepers. The latter, sateen, is a one-yarn-under and three-yarn-over weave. More thread surface exposed by this weave is what gives sateen its signature silky-soft feel and subtle luster. Sateen is usually more tightly woven and heavier in weight than percale, making it particularly sumptuous. It’s ideal for year-round comfort, and especially cozy in winter months. Our Classic collection is a percale weave, while our Luxe is a sateen. Finally, we use Osthoff Singe finishing machines that are made in Germany and widely considered the best in the industry. Our production team has over 100 years of combined experience and a manufacturing formula that gives out sheets a unique feel. Settings of the machinery are customized by each manufacturing team, which ensures no sheet can be made to feel exactly like ours.
The raw material is the first step to sheet greatness.
What makes Egyptian cotton so special?
Egyptian cotton is a long-staple cotton – that’s why it is so special!
In your opinion, how does quality bedding affect health and wellness?
Quality bedding has a major impact on health and wellness! We already know that lack of sleep leads to an increased risk of a huge host of health problems – everything from obesity to heightened levels of stress hormones to worse mood, lack of concentration, dull skin, and more; and we know that bedding is a key factor in how well you sleep.
Aside from generally feeling soft and comfortable on the skin, which is a must for good sleep (if you feel like you’re sleeping on sandpaper you’re going to be very tired the next morning), sheets play an important role in maintaining the ideal temperature for sleeping, which is key for regulating sleep. All things being equal, you need to be able to stay cool throughout the night in order to fall and stay asleep.
A high-quality cotton is both soft and breathable, which means air can pass through so you will be comfortable and unlikely to overheat, while a lower-quality cotton or a synthetic blend can feel soft, but will trap heat and over-insulate you. The result is that you’re more likely to wake up hot and clammy throughout the night. Thus, a quality set of sheets helps you avoid those pitfalls, and get better rest via throughout the night.
It’s still important to take other factors into account, i.e. avoiding electronics/lights in the bedroom (while sleeping), not drinking caffeine or alcohol close to bed time, setting your thermostat a bit lower than you would for daytime, but with all of those considered, quality bedding still plays a key role.
Brooklinen offers sheets, comforters and pillows. What are some of your best-selling styles, colors and sets?
Our Hardcore Bundles are our most popular sellers, because with them you get a 7-piece set of sheets (1 fitted sheet, 1 flat sheet, 1 duvet cover, 4 pillowcases), plus the freedom to mix-and-match our color ways within the bundle to style them to your liking. The pieces in the set are also 25% less as a Hardcore Bundle than if you buy each item individually. Our Move-In Bundle works the same way and gives you everything you need in almost one-click – a comforter, two pillows, and the aforementioned Hardcore Bundle J.
All our colorways and styles do really well – we only sell a few patterns because we always want to keep our selection minimalist and curated, never overwhelming.
And then we very recently introduced our new candles that I am obsessed with, and limited-edition lambswool, baby alpaca, and cashmere throw blankets. They’ve already sold out in their first run! We’ll be restocking them for winter though.
What kind of customer feedback have you been receiving?
Our customer feedback has been fantastic and informative, and we listen and collaborate with our customers and community! For example, we were hearing that it was easy for pillows to slide out of traditional pillow cases, so we developed an envelope fold for ours to keep them in place. Customers suggested that we put “long-side” and “short-side” tags on our fitted sheets to make it easy to know which end went where when making the bed, so we implemented that too!
How does Brooklinen typically work with interior designers?
Interior designers generally come to us and purchase bedding directly for their clients. They’re tastemakers and always the first to know about great new products and brands, and fortunately they quickly discovered and embraced us!
Why would an interior designer want to furnish a client’s bedroom with Brooklinen bedding?
Interior designers love to use Brooklinen to furnish client bedrooms because of the quality, aesthetic, and great price for the quality of the product. They want to provide their clients with high-end, luxurious bedding that feels great, and then from an aesthetic perspective, they have the freedom to play and do a minimalist, clean look in a room because our designs are primarily solid colors and stripes, grids, and polka dots, or use the sheets as a canvas to build on, via colorful throws and pillows, textures, etc., for a look that is more bohemian or layered. So we give them great materials to work with, and they take them and run with their creative visions.
What’s next for Brooklinen?
We have some really exciting ideas and launches in the works for next year, you’ll have to stay tuned to see!
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