HENRI BENDEL, the super-fashionable luxury retailer whose Fifth Avenue flagship has long been the style-setter for New York City’s most elegant ladies, is doing the unthinkable. It is getting out of apparel! Bendel says the New York store will be reduced in size from three to two selling floors, offering consumers accessories, handbags, jewelry, gifts, beauty and fragrance. Apparel is out. Gone. Fini.
Bendel President Ed Bucciarelli says the firm has been going in the accessories only direction for quite a while. “It’s a natural progression. Fashion isn’t where we’re seeing our growth.” In recent years, Bendel’s has been unable to secure apparel collections that bigger retailers have had access to, causing the firm to run from one merchandising idea to another in order to maintain margins.
Open See Days
ONE IDEA THAT DID RESONATE WELL with Bendel customers was Open See Days, in which unknown designers were brought to the store in an attempt to latch onto some real winners. In its latest reincarnation, Open See Days will continue, only they’ll be limited to the more focused accessory categories.
YOU CAN FOCUS ON YOUR OWN OPEN SEE DAYS BY TRYING OUT NEW IDEAS WITH PRODUCTS AND PROMOTIONS: HOW ABOUT:
- A designer inspired purse in leatherette with soft feel and look of genuine top leather. Features rich rosette decoration and is available in a variety of colors.
- Oversized tote handbag in trendy washed metallic colors of gold or lavender. Embroidery on front includes iridescent sequins for subtle sparkle.
BENDEL’S PRESENTLY OPERATES four shopping mall stores, with six more due to open this year. Leslie Wexner, president of the store’s parent company, Limited Brands, Inc., says “Bendel’s is one of the greatest and most recognizable brands in the world.” Still, until now, the store hasn’t met Wexner’s vision.
Under the new Bendel format, however, Wexler expects all of that to change. To start with, the stores will sell only accessories and only Bendel-branded merchandise. That, Wexler feels, will “allow the company to realize its potential” on a national and, eventually, on a global scale.
So far, the new merchandising system seems to be on target. The four mall stores already operating are apparently doing very well despite the recession, and projections are highly optimistic for the new ones scheduled to open this year
The new luxe accessories Bendel stores now open run between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet and feature a lot of “iconic brown and white stripes and photos of fashionable young women in the windows. It’s set up like a candy store,” says Bucciarelli, with handbags the cornerstone of the concept.
We are also stretching the boundaries of what accessories are with hairpieces, gloves, wellies and stationery.
“Everything we do,” he declared, “appeals to a younger customer.”
LOOKING TO CASH IN ON YOUNG CUSTOMERS, TOO? HERE ARE SOME GREAT PRODUCTS TO GET YOU STARTED:
- Ankle bracelet: hot and uptrending with the young crowd. This silver plated anklet of fine chain includes dangling cross and heart charms. What could be more timely?
- Perfect for prom or pageant wear, this wide crystal cuff bracelet features iridescent crystals in a gorgeous open work silver-plate design. The exquisite craftsmanship brings back the Golden Age of Costume Jewelry!