Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Sweet dreams for those with fat wallets

By Danna HarmanStaff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / June 30, 2004



WASHINGTON

A Shifman mattress takes about nine hours to make (by hand, of course), features hourglass-shaped coils (tied eight ways with Italian twine), and costs (on sale) about $5,200. It's a luxury mattress "steal of a deal," really, when you start looking around.

Skip to next paragraph

"I would say Shifman is the Mercedes to our Rolls Royce," sniffs Adrian Jones, director of sales for Hypnos USA, touting the century-old mattresses from Buckinghamshire, England, that he markets. Queen Elizabeth II sleeps on a Hypnos, he confides. The Sultan of Brunei will never rest on anything else, and Luciano Pavarotti is a fan. The price tag? Anywhere between $4,000 and $12,000.

Den Koster Inte Mycket! (Ha! Cheap!), they exclaim over at Hästens, the purveyors of mattresses to the royal Swedish Court - and, like Hypnos, a new arrival to the US. Their top models (filled with carefully selected, meticulously cleaned, genuine horsehair mixed with pure wool that repels condensation) go for a cool $17,000 (a 25-year guarantee is included).

Want to try out these mattresses before dropping the equivalent of a year's tuition at private college? Head over to Duxana, the flagship store of Swedish company Dux Interiors in downtown New York. There, before taking out the credit card (mattresses start at $4,500 and go up to $9,400 for a king size), you can sign up for a slot in its experimental sleep chambers (which come complete with fresh sheets, low lights, and music) for a trial run.

Wild and crazy? A joke? Madness? No, just the latest trend in extravagant indulgence and high-end cocooning. A tiny but growing number of consumers are spending as much as $20,000 for hand-made mattresses boasting superior coils and layered with cashmere and Belgian silk.

This fad is still something of a sleeper, since $600 is considered top end, and anything over $1,500 a luxury. "Ultra-luxe," according to the International Sleep Products Association, makes up only about 2 percent of themarket - but the balance is shifting.

About 17 percent of the market, according to the nonprofit sleep education group Better Sleep Council, is now taken up by higher-end mattress purchases. King size is catching up, natural cotton and flax stuffing is hot, and pure new wool is becoming a necessity.

"The trend in the industry is indeed comfort and luxury. That's the hot buzzword in bedding," says David Perry, bedding editor of Furniture/Today. "A great mattress is going to help you restore your spirits and rejuvenate your body. Who does not want that?"

Perhaps everyone does want exactly that - but it is only in the past few years that consumers have been willing to pay so much for it. A new report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) says that luxury spending is up across the board - from $4 cups of coffee to $150,000 SUVs. "The new luxury phenomenon," says Michael Silverman, a partner at BCG, "is ... a structural, long-term shift that will continue to reshape consumer economy for the foreseeable future."

A soft place in tough times

Consumer trend watchers throw out an array of interconnected reasons as to why deluxe is "in," especially in the home, and bedroom.

It's a post-9/11 time, they say, and uncertainty makes people want to stay around the home. It's also a time in which disposable income is higher than ever before, and the culture of the spa and self-indulgence is at a peak. Heavy spending on oneself is far from extraordinary, experts note.

Permissions