By  on March 23, 2009

When Edition by Banana Republic, a new 1,400-square-foot accessories and handbag retail concept, bows on May 15, most of the products will be priced under $100.

Banana Republic executives will be testing the theory that, especially these days, women who may think twice about spending several hundred dollars on fashion won’t hesitate to buy a less expensive necklace or handbag. The store will open at the Westfield Mall in San Francisco.

“For our customers today, affordability is paramount and being fashionable is always in style,” said Jack Calhoun, president of Banana Republic. “Edition is the perfect place for women to update their wardrobe with exquisite, limited edition and affordable accessories, especially in today’s economy.”

The store will feature limited edition women’s handbag and jewelry collections — produced in runs of 50 to 100 pieces — along with popular Banana Republic accessories, shoes, personal care, eyewear and seasonal accessories.

Products are made using materials such as Italian leather for handbags and semiprecious stones for jewelry.

The limited run accessories created for Edition won’t be sold online or at any Banana Republic stores.

Banana Republic’s customers have been impacted by the recession. In January, the retailer’s North American sales were down 22 percent, versus a 5 percent increase the previous year. Comp-store sales for the 13 weeks ended Jan. 31 fell 15 percent compared with a 2 percent rise in the same prior-year period.

The Westfield Mall location was chosen because the company already operates a Banana Republic unit there.

Edition will be merchandised differently than other Banana Republic stores. For one thing, the product will be shown mostly on open display tables. “The collection will be presented in a sophisticated manner,” the spokeswoman said. “The store will evoke a feminine and residential feel.”

Sales associates, called Edition stylists, will assist customers with the season’s looks.

Asked whether other Edition stores could eventually be rolled out, the spokeswoman said, “I can’t comment on any future plans, but we do believe there’s a space in the market for a store like this.”

This is not the first time Banana Republic has tested a new retail concept. The company last April unveiled a stand-alone store for the limited edition BR Monogram collection on Bleecker Street in Manhattan. No other Monogram units have launched to date. The spokeswoman explained the Monogram store was a test and temporary. “We’ll incorporate some of the best practices and roll them out across the Banana fleet,” she said.

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