Henri Bendel New York
In response to some tough economic circumstances, Henri Bendel‘s parent-company CEO Leslie Wexner has opted to eschew the luxury apparel market in favor of focusing their stores only on accessories, beauty products, and gifts. Bendel‘s is one of the first major luxury retailers to make such a drastic move to improve their business models in the country’s current economic climate, and one has to wonder – will the risk pay off?

I have a bit of a feeling that it might. Personally, when I go into a high-end retailer, I almost never look at ready-to-wear. I head straight to the shoes, handbags, and makeup, and statistics say that I’m not nearly the only one that does exactly that. Those product categories are far and away the most profitable and popular ones at any similar type of retailer (or any luxury brand that makes them, for that matter), largely because they’re the types of products that are accessible to the largest number of customers.

I honestly couldn’t care less if my local Neiman Marcus carried any clothing at all, as long as the keep the bags and shoes front and center. There’s a lot of cost associated with stocking and displaying merchandise that takes up that much space, and if the space can be better filled by things that a larger number of customers would rather look at, then hey, why not? It’s so crazy, it’s logical. What not might be logical quite yet, though, are their plans to increase their total number of locations by 150% (which, in this case, means from 4 to 10) to a number of malls across America – might it not be prudent to sit back and see if the product shift works first?


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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • Piper

    I agree. I only get clothes at Saks, Bloomies and Macy’s etc but when it comes to NM, HB etc I can only buy accessories. Actually, I can’t really afford to buy accessories there but I save up and do anyway just because they always have the coolest and prettiest stuff and because I want to look like Blair LOL.

  • supriapatel

    the bendels in easton in columbus only sells accessories but it’s only henri bendel brand things…like their own purses candles gloves jewelry etc

  • Loquita

    I think that this is VERY smart…I was just at the NYC Bendel’s and I spent all of my time (and $) in the beauty and accessories sections, which were wonderfully edited! No complaints here.

  • me

    If I’m going to buy a luxury item its probably a bag or shoes. I’d be too worried about clothes getting ruined and you can’t really use them on a day-to-day basis like you could with shoes or bags. Well, best of luck to them.

  • Otter

    Smart strategy. They have been heading that way for awhile now. I’ve noticed the clothes merch creeping away.

  • hblover

    The Bendel Branded stores (4 other than new york) have been operating since september. Im assuming these test stores had something to do with the decision

  • dequincey

    I think this is a great idea. I find the marketplace at the high end dept stores (barneys, bergs) to be kindof underwhelming in an overwhelming way. I cant help but read the floors of these stores from the perspective of the overwrought buyers meetings where everyone has their annoying opinion and seasonal points are covered into the ground. This is why I love boutique shopping in NYC.. where if you visit a particular shop enough you get a feel for the vision of the smaller buying team and you can appreciate each handpicked item. I love Bendels new re-focus–it makes for a much more intimate and directive shopping experience. I also love their own line of bangles and handbags, which are reasonably priced in my opinion… I worked on the handbag launch and their design team is really fantastic. The bags are made of beautiful materials and sewn in Italy, with their sample makers working out of New York..so I also like that they are using domestic resources as well.. :)

  • jmarie08

    i agree. that is so smart because i think they do accessories and pretty things well. but not clothes….