A Case for Color

A vibrant palette adds a fashion element to barware
June 8, 2016Allison Zisko

LenoxTuscanyTuscany colored glass tumblers from Lenox. lenox.com
By Allison Zisko

If clear glass tumblers and double old-fashioneds are the workhorses of the barware world, then colored DOFs are the show ponies.

Clear tumblers far outsell colored ones, according to several glassmakers—by a “large margin” at Libbey, a five-to-one margin at Waterford and an eight-to-one margin at Arc International. But colored glassware adds a special something to the table and attracts customers in stores.

“Colored glass is genius,” said Andrew Corrie, founder of Canvas Home, which operates a wholesale business as well as a retail store in Manhattan. “Colored glass is an easy way to take an ordinary table and add jewelry to it. You don’t want to add too much—just a little breathes life into your tablescape.”

Canvas Home offers about six or seven different color palettes—clear is the best-seller, smoke and aqua always do well, and amethyst is hot right now. Customers are drawn to the more exotic colors in the store, but often wind up buying the safer option of smoke or clear, Corrie said.

ArtelConcinnitasArtel’s Concinnitas series. artelglass.com
“While clear glass is still number one, there is a strong trend toward more color and design,” said Laurie Gates, vice president of creative and merchandising for Gibson Overseas. “Recent industry surveys revealed contemporary designs are the most important feature for young buyers when considering new glassware.”

Lenox recently introduced an assorted color set of six stemless glasses in its Tuscany Collection that has become a big seller right off the bat, according to Jim Mylonas, vice president and general manager for Lenox crystal. The set contains six different colors (purple, burgundy, orange, green, yellow and blue.) “We’ve found that this colorful set appeals to a different consumer than our offerings in clear glass,” he added. “The positive consumer feedback we’ve received notes the colors are great for entertaining where each guest can have their own special color.”

At Arc, novelty colored tumblers, such as its Party Cups and Working Glass Hydration items, are performing well, said Tom Moleski, marketing development director. Turquoise is the favored color in open stock assortments.

Color as a Fashion Accessory
Barware is a hot glassware category right now, and color adds an extra fashion element.

“People are much more willing to be playful in barware,” said Karen Feldman, founder of luxury crystal maker Artel, all of whose barware is made to order in Europe. Color accounts for 75 percent of its barware sales, and black is the best-selling color. Its new Concinnitas collection, a limited-edition set of black tumblers with a variety of hand-engraved mathematical formulas, has been a hit, she said.

Since color makes a fashion statement, it needs to be changed up regularly, Corrie said, typically through different shapes. Canvas Home’s current colored assortment encompasses two sizes in three different styles.

In April, Waterford launched Lismore Pops, adding vibrant color—cobalt, purple and emerald for the coming fall—to a longstanding pattern. Its DOF got a slight makeover, sporting a flattering taper.

“It looks like the consumer is looking for an alternative to plain, functional barware,” said Richard Voit, managing director of Nachtmann, whose top-selling colors in colored glassware are smoke and aqua. “Clear ones are still the much higher volume, but colored ones are very strong in demand since the beginning of [this year].” Nachtmann’s new Highland Tumblers come in smoke, aqua, green and amber.

“There is an increased interest and demand for splashes of color in glassware from consumers today, despite clear glass continuing to lead the market,” said Serena Williams, senior manager of retail channel marketing at Libbey, where blue is the on-trend color and smoke is a popular option that works well with a black and white palette. “A rise in white dinnerware preferences has resulted in consumers bringing color and whimsy to the table through their glassware.”

Color is a natural eye-catcher, but retailers can promote it further through the right merchandising displays, according to vendors. “The most important thing is to ensure shoppers can see and react to the glass color and shape, whether it’s through great package photography or open stock presentations,” said Libbey’s Williams.

Moleski suggested shelves or window displays in which multiple colors are merchandised creatively together.

Howard Hyde, global brand director at Waterford, agreed. “Mixing the color up in unorthodox combinations always looks fresh,” he said. “They need to take some risk with color. Boring is just ... boring.”


Allison ZiskoAllison Zisko | Managing Editor/Tabletop Editor

After 15 years of covering the tabletop industry, Allison Zisko is still as enthusiastic as ever about the dinnerware, glassware and flatware categories. An in-depth analysis of how the category works intrigues her just as much as the latest fashion trends. As managing editor, Allison oversees the daily e-newsletter and works behind the scenes to help produce the print issue each month. She also directs HFN’s housewares coverage and covers the cutlery category. An avid reader, Allison is eager to talk to anyone and everyone about the latest book they are reading.


  • Von Tobel Cites Brass Textures Among Top Trends

    Camera Icon   More Videos

Subscribe to
HFN Omnichannel
Receive the news you need to know about the trends in the industry delivered right to your inbox.

Current Issue

  • HFN cover for September 2017


    September 2017


    2017 State of the Industry Report
    Cautious Optimism, Mixed Results

    Many expected 2016 would be a banner year, but the political and economic climate softened consumer confidence. It was also a year consumers spent more lavishly on home remodeling rather than decorating.


    •  TJX Unveils First U.S. Homesense Store - In a time when retailers are reducing store counts, TJX continues to get physical.
    •   Ikea’s Fluid Spaces - The retailer’s new intros reflect multifunctional rooms.
    •  N.Y. Home Fashions Market Preview - Textile textures get soft and cozy, colors warmer.