The Bonwit Teller name is readying a comeback after an eight-year hiatus.
A flagship will likely bow in New York by the end of next year and be followed quickly by a door in Los Angeles. Ultimately, the chain could expand to about 20 stores in the U.S., said Andrei Najjar, interim chief executive officer of Avenue Brands, who was recently hired to relaunch the brand and perhaps add others to build a portfolio.
The grand reentrance is taking the form of a luxury retail chain that will start with more than 100 years of history and focus on customer service and highly edited assortments. But Bonwit's return will come as the retail sector undergoes yet more consolidation, with many other famous nameplates — such as Marshall Field's — disappearing and malls focusing on core players with rollout potential.
"The new Bonwit will continue the brand's legacy of the unique juxtaposition of timelessness and artistic progression," said Najjar.
Avenue Brands is a subsidiary of Chicago-based River West Brands, which bought the rights to the Bonwit Teller name in 2005.
"We hope to return a much more authentically human element to the retail shopping experience," said Najjar, who cofounded Social Atelier Brands and also held posts at Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Target Corp. and Gap Inc.
A real estate strategy is being developed with information about site selection expected in the coming months.
"Our signature points of differentiation will be extremely attentive and personalized service; innovative, exclusive and highly edited product assortments; artistic features, and a very elegant and opulent in-store experience," said Najjar.
Founded in 1895, Bonwit Teller built its reputation by serving generations of high-end customers with looks from new designers, such as Calvin Klein, and featured the work of Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali and Richard Avedon.
Despite its star power, Bonwit Teller was impacted by market turbulence and retail consolidation in the Eighties and had four owners in less than 10 years: Allied Stores, Campeau Corp., Hooker Corp. and Pyramid Cos., which ultimately shuttered the last store in 2000.
"Bonwit Teller was an experience," said Paul Earle, president and founder of River West Brands. "It's a deep emotional reservoir. It's about mothers and daughters. It's about purple violets."The original chain's shopping bags featured a logo incorporating violets that became its calling card.
"We see Bonwit Teller right now as a blank canvas with an exquisitely beautiful frame," said Earle.
River West owns trademark rights to Salon Selectives and Underalls, among others.
"We're highly opportunistic and look for these great cast-off brands, the Rembrandt in the attic," said Earle.
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion
“I’m Russian and I love to use all these little tricks that I got from my grandma or my mom. We didn’t have a lot of money for creams or anything like that so we would use a garden as a beauty treatment regime. We’d put cucumber in the fridge and do a cucumber mask,” says model @irinashayk on one of her beauty hacks. WWD asked celebs what their go-to self-care rituals are. See what Naomie Harris, Freida Pinto and more said on WWD.com. #wwdeye #wwdbeauty (📷: @zefashioninsider)
Exclusive: @viktorandrolf are teaming up with @Zalando on a collection made from leftover clothing. The lineup, which lands at the retailer February 1, includes 17 pieces adorned with sliced up and repurposed overstock from the retailer’s private label collection. Pictured here is a look from the collection –– see more on WWD.com. #wwdfashion #wwdnews
@duewestnyc is the newest bar joining the collection of intimate neighborhood-focused spaces in the West Village. The cocktail menu, which includes bitters and syrups made in-house, offers a “Build Your Own Old-Fashioned” – like the one pictured here – where guests can choose from a list of spirits and unexpected sugars and bitters. #wwdeye
Spotted at last night’s National Board of Review gala in NYC: Angelina Jolie. Jolie – along with Meryl Streep, @lupitanyongo and more – continued the all-black dress code from Sunday’s Golden Globes. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)