What Makes E.S. Kluft`s Palais Royale Mattress Worth $33,000

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What Makes E.S. Kluft`s Palais Royale Mattress Worth $33,000
What Makes E.S. Kluft's Palais Royale Mattress Worth $33,0...
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704009804...
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JUNE 16, 2010
A Mattress at $33,000?
Made With Horsehair, Silk and Gold, New Bedding Pushes Prices Sky-High
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By ANJALI ATHAVALEY
How much would you spend for a good night's sleep?
Some people might say $33,000. That's the price of E.S. Kluft & Co.'s hand-tufted, king-size
Palais Royale mattress and box spring, currently the most expensive American-made mattress
set on the market. The company says it has sold about 100 since introducing it in 2008.
Or maybe it's $44,000—the price tag on Kluft's Sublime model, which the company has teed up
for a launch later this year.
The Price of a Good Night's Sleep
European shoppers will pay even more. At
$69,500—roughly the price of a Porsche
Cayenne S hybrid SUV—there's the Vividus
king-size mattress set from Hästens Sängar
AB, of Sweden. Hästens says it takes 160
hours to assemble this mattress entirely by
hand, which has a Swedish-pine frame with
thick layers of horsehair, cotton, flax and wool
inside. The company says since introducing
View Slideshow
the mattress in 2006, it has sold 250 of them
world-wide.
Michal Czerwonka for The Wall Street Journal
Filberto Pesqueira uses Italian twine to hand-tie coils
used in a box spring at E.S. Kluft & Co.
More photos and interactive graphics
There's an arms race under way in the world
of luxury mattresses that jittery economists
and sluggish home sales seem unable to
stop. Even at the middle-to-upper-middle
tiers, mattress prices are creeping up as
companies cater to mainstream demand for luxurious sleep.
At Sealy Corp., in Trinity, N.C., the lineup of products aimed at the luxury end of the market is
expanding, says Jodi Allen, chief marketing officer. The company's higher-end Stearns & Foster
mattresses range in price from $1,200 to $5,000 and take twice as long to make as the
company's Sealy-brand mattress.
Princess, Where's the Pea?
Cross-section of E.S. Kluft's $33,000 mattress.
Click to enlarge graphic .
This year, Sealy launched its most expensive
Stearns & Foster model, the black-and-gold
Golden Elegance, priced at $4,999 for a king
set. It features individually wrapped inner and
Companies within this Article
outer coils, which give extra support, and it
contains wool, horsehair and natural latex
inside.
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Earl Kluft, chief executive of E.S. Kluft, a
family-owned company based in Rancho
Cucamonga, Calif., says it takes 10
craftsmen about three days to make the
Palais Royale, which contains 10 layers and
more than 10 pounds of cashmere, mohair,
silk and New Zealand wool that has been
washed, dried and crimped. Natural latex foam and certified organic cotton are among the
materials used to reduce motion transfer and provide cooling. The Sublime has a layer of
Sealy Corp.(ZZ)
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horsehair for resiliency.
"We really want the consumer to get a better night's sleep," Mr. Kluft says. "When you think
about it, the mattress is the most important thing in your house. You spend more time on your
bed than anywhere else."
Shopping Tips
Here are some points to keep in mind when
mattress shopping, according to the International
Sleep Products Association.
Look for a mattress that keeps your spine and
neck in alignment, as if you are standing upright
with correct posture.
Spend 15 minutes lying on a mattress in your
typical sleeping position before purchasing.
Lie on your side and try to fit two or three
fingers into the space between your hips and
your rib cage. If you can do it, the mattress may
not be conforming and supporting enough.
Select the one that feels the best to you. Buying
a mattress, in the end, is a personal decision.
Mr. Kluft says super-premium mattresses, or
those costing $20,000 or more, made up 5%
of Kluft's sales of $33 million in 2009, a year
when overall sales were flat. In 2010, firstquarter sales were up 50% over the year
earlier, Mr. Kluft says.
At the high end, other mattress options range
from Hollandia International's "3-D fabric,"
with raised fibers creating ventilation, to a
customizable mattress from Organic
Mattresses Inc., featuring layers of latex in
varying firmness that are stacked to suit the
customer. Some mattresses have aloe vera
or lavender built into the top layers; a luxury
mattress from Magniflex, an Italian line, is covered with fabric containing 22-karat gold.
Exactly how much better will a person sleep on a super-expensive mattress, a shopper might
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25/06/10 11.28
What Makes E.S. Kluft's Palais Royale Mattress Worth $33,0...
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704009804...
ask. Not much, according to one sleep expert, Clete Kushida, medical director of the Stanford
University Sleep Medicine Center. "For the vast majority of people who are generally healthy,
bed surface won't make much of a difference in terms of their sleep," Dr. Kushida says.
But as people age, they experience more sleeping problems and become more attuned to the
comfort of their beds. And for those with medical problems, such as chronic pain syndrome,
"even something as simple as a bed surface can make a significant difference," he says.
Yet bad sleep was what drove Scott Kimple, a 44-year-old hedge-fund manager in Dallas, to
invest $27,500 in a king-size Hästens 2000T mattress set two years ago. "I've had problems
sleeping in the last couple of years, and I thought well, maybe a mattress might help," Mr.
Kimple says.
"When I heard there was a $20,000 mattress
out there, I thought it was kind of ridiculous."
But Mr. Kimple is a convert. "It's light years
better than anything I've ever slept on. It's like
you're floating on air." An added plus: "They
will come to your house and flip the mattress
for you," Mr. Kimple says. The Hästens store
in Dallas offers the monthly service to local
View Full Image
Michal Czerwonka for The Wall Street Journal
customers for the first year; Mr. Kimple had it
done.
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Rolls of trim at Kluft's California factory.
Less-expensive rivals are skeptical of a
$20,000 mattress. "I don't know what the
rationale is, quite frankly, as to why someone would spend that much," says Rick Anderson,
North American division president at Tempur-Pedic International Inc., of Lexington, Ky. The
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company is planning this year to roll out the Tempur-Cloud Luxe collection, including a softer
version of its signature Tempur foam, which conforms, with body heat, to the shape of the
sleeper. A king set with an advanced adjustable base system costs $9,000—making it the
company's second-most-expensive.
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"Hand-made doesn't necessarily mean better sleep," Mr. Anderson adds. "I think you have to
look for meaningful differences."
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The industry offers a little evidence to back up the notion that a new bed will help you sleep
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better. In 2006, the Better Sleep Council, an arm of the International Sleep Products Association,
funded a study at Oklahoma State University. Researchers divided 59 people, who had no
clinical history of sleep problems, into groups according to their "sleep efficiency"—that is, how
well they reported sleeping. They recorded their quality of sleep for 28 days in their old beds,
which were on average nine years old. Then they did the same for 28 days in a new,
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medium-firm bed.
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Subjects with poor sleep efficiency
experienced greater improvement, but those
with good sleep efficiency also experienced
benefits, says Bert Jacobson, head of the
School of Educational Studies at OSU. "A
View Full Image
Michal Czerwonka for The Wall Street Journal
Earl Kluft, chief executive of family-owned E.S. Kluft
Co., tries out every new model before it hits the
market.
new bed is certainly not a cure-all," Dr.
Jacobson says, but it can improve the sleep
of even those who don't feel they suffer from
poor sleep.
And that may be why, in the luxury mattress
business, unhappy customers are rare. Last
year, Linda Wilde, 51, a hospital health
information official, and her husband, Wayne,
an administrator at a law firm, set out to replace the mattress she'd been sleeping on since the
year Ronald Reagan was elected president (1980, to be exact).
"It was a full size mattress, and we are two full-size people," Ms. Wilde says. "It was time we got
a new mattress." The couple went to a mattress store near their home in Half Moon Bay, Calif.,
and tried out a Kluft. They glanced at the price and saw $1,700. "When we laid on that bed, it
was like heaven," she says. "We were thinking, What a steal."
Make that $17,000. But it was already too late—the Wildes were sold. Since purchasing the bed,
her husband's back pain has vanished. Ms. Wilde says she doesn't intend to buy another
mattress. "This is the bed we're going to die in," she says. "Hopefully not soon."
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For some, the eye-popping price is part of the appeal. "For any luxury brand, there has to be a
perception of scarcity," says Dean Crutchfield, senior partner at Method Inc., a New York brand
consulting firm. "If everyone was running around buying these beds, they wouldn't be as special.
"Let's be honest, not everyone can have this. Not everyone can afford this. That's what this is
about," Mr. Crutchfield says.
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Mr. Kluft's Palais Royale in several stores.
Just a few years ago, the company's mattress assortment topped out in the $5,000-to-$6,000
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25/06/10 11.28
What Makes E.S. Kluft's Palais Royale Mattress Worth $33,0...
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704009804...
range.
"Once my buyers started testing the stuff and we saw the results, we went very aggressively
after that business," says Joe Laneve, the retailer's senior vice president of home furnishings.
Customers who buy a $33,000 mattress want to take their time in the store. "They lie down for a
long time," Mr. Laneve says. Kluft trains the sales associates—Mr. Kluft calls them "disciples of
the product"—to answer questions. "We do not pressure them to make a quick decision of that
magnitude," Mr. Laneve says.
Fidel Lecer, manager of a Mancini's Sleepworld store in San Francisco, says the most expensive
mattresses sell themselves. Just a few days ago, he recalls, a woman walked in looking to
spend less than $1,000 on a mattress-box spring combination; she walked out with a set that
cost her $8,000.
"There's no one, in 95% of the cases," Mr. Lecer says, "that comes in and says 'Oh, I'm here to
spend $15,000.' "
Good, Better, Best?
Generally speaking, the higher the price of the mattress, the more stuff there is inside.
MATTRESS
PRICE
WHAT'S INSIDE
LIFE
EXPECTANCY
Sealy Innerspring $499 to
$949 for a
king set
Coils have been tempered, or heated, to retain
strength and shape; some mattresses come with
memory foam; others come with a silk-wool fiber
layer in the quilt.
6 to 8 years
Stearns Foster
$4,999 for a
Golden Elegance king set
Individually wrapped inner and outer coils give
6 to 8 years
extra support; layers of wool, horsehair and natural
latex.
Kluft Palais
Royale
More than 2,000 coils; 10 pounds of wool,
cashmere, mohair and silk; plus natural latex and
Biofoam layers.
$33,000 for
a king set
7 to 10 years
Write to Anjali Athavaley at [email protected]
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