WWD.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/bendel-hits-the-web-with-new-site-479234/

Party pictures, fashion tips, event listings and a headline-laden home page are among the editorial-inspired features on Henri Bendel’s first Web site.

The retailer’s online presence went live Monday and includes e-commerce, which at this point is restricted to accessories, beauty products and gift items. There is also a concierge component to help shoppers if they don’t see an item they are looking for online. Visitors will find information about upcoming trunk shows, fall trends, fashion illustrations by Izak and holiday gift ideas — all of which are plugged in various font sizes designed to look like cover lines. The site was created by the New York-based boutique agency No. 11.

Bendel’s chief executive officer and president Ed Bucciarelli said, “We wanted more of a magazine approach instead of having the hard-sell Web site.”

The retailer aims to introduce consumers, especially those who may have never visited the Fifth Avenue flagship, to its signature label and all the merchandise currently online is made by Henri Bendel. No designer styles are offered at this time. The timing for the push is ideal since the store celebrated the 100th anniversary of its signature brown and white stripe last month, Bucciarelli said.

In addition, the company wanted to give online shoppers a sense of the eclectic style of the freestanding store. “Of course we wanted to do business on the site. But we didn’t want to do it until it made you feel like you were part of the Henri Bendel experience. We’re a girl’s playground,” Bucciarelli said.

Some branded products will be introduced next month, when Henri Bendel posts its early holiday Web site online. Accessories from Ted Rossi, Carlos Falchi, Kooba and others, as well as beauty items from YSL, Chanel and other brands, will be part of the offerings. In terms of apparel, Henri Bendel sweaters will be featured in the online catalogue. The retailer will gauge online shoppers’ response to the branded goods and to the initial apparel, and will change the assortment accordingly, Bucciarelli said.

This story first appeared in the October 24, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.