A Case for Color

A vibrant palette adds a fashion element to barware
Posted on June 8, 2016 by Allison 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.”