New York—Flaneur means dreamer, idler or stroller of cities. It’s also the inspiration for a luxury bedding and textile company that’s all about color and quality materials.
“Flaneur was created out of this feeling,” said co-founder Tianjiao “TJ” Yu. “We realized it’s a unique offering: custom-color experts producing luxury-grade bedding through a color journey that inspires delight, but also clarity to the archaic and confusing custom-color trade. To express your unique style is to be a flaneur, and that’s how we see our customers.”
After Yu and co-founder Lu Xiong graduated Columbia University, they decided to “get lost traveling the world,” said Xiong. “We were so fortunate to meet family craftspeople wherever we traveled [in places]rich in textile traditions; this was the inspiration for how we would create our bedding.”
Flaneur is an e-commerce-driven, custom-color, custom-service business. “It can be completed online and is delivered in two weeks to your door—slicing the average lead time for custom orders at least in half,” said Yu.
Color is a big part of the company’s offering. Added Xiong, “Color, as we all know, can play such a powerful role in elevating and calming the human psyche. We’re looking for hotelier visionaries who share this passion. We’re already seeing the bed play more of an experiential role, so it is inevitable that color will be embraced in innovative ways.”
The company also maintains a sophisticated, traceable—and ethical—supply chain. It DNA-tests its cotton to make sure that it’s 100% Supima cotton—rejecting any batch that contains traces of inferior cotton. “Supima’s extra-long staple yarn has an incredible capacity to consistently absorb color, delivering rich color with a natural golden sheen that adds subtle luminosity,” said Xiong.
Flaneur prides itself on the fact that it spares no expense to produce its bedding, “from our secure hand ties in the duvet, our extra-long luxury zipper, the proprietary clean-finish of the triangle fold of the fitted sheet, to the French seam that ties each Flaneur piece together,” said Yu.
The company employs the 1-ply, 1-pick premium sateen, 400-thread count weaving technique, which it says is the highest possible thread count achievable in a single square inch of fabric. “This achieves a delicate balance of softness and smoothness, sturdiness and breathability,” she said. “Higher threads counts are achieved with more plies, resulting in the inevitable (and unwanted) pilling.”
While locality is a popular trend these days, the company’s process includes finding the best materials and techniques from across the globe, including zippers from Switzerland and a dye house in Los Angeles. “Today’s consumer knows that a perfect product should reflect the expertise, talents and dedication of craftsmen from all over the world,” said Yu. “Locally made is still very charming, and we actually partner with a number of artisans. But to build a bed sheet that is breathable, durable, soft, smooth and environmentally friendly with a modern touch, you need to assemble a global crew and let each party play to its strength. And, more importantly, you need to keep everyone on the same page as often as possible.”
The company’s first foray into the hospitality market came when makeup-artist-turned-entrepreneur Bobbi Brown reached out regarding her first boutique hotel, The George Inn, in Montclair, NJ. As for why she chose Flaneur, Brown said, “I love my sheets soft, but strong. I only sleep in 100% cotton bedding, not an ounce of silk or sateen. I love the effortless zippers on the duvet covers with the surprise pop of color.”
“We look for any opportunities to embrace color so there was a natural synergy there,” said Xiong. “We see so much potential in hotel partnerships and look forward to sharing details about our next partnership.” HB