NEW YORK — Henri Bendel wants to tap into fresh fashion talent.

The retailer, known for nurturing the businesses of emerging designers for more than 110 years, is developing a knitwear collaboration program in hopes of launching even more young designers’ careers.

The program, developed by Bendel’s vice president and fashion director, Ann Watson, will team the store with new designers to produce a limited edition sweater collection exclusively for Bendel’s. For fall, Bendel’s has tapped men’s wear designer Victor Glemaud, who Watson described as a “rising star” in knitwear.

“It’s in our DNA to show the new and the next, and I think that our cashmere is a great venue to showcase that,” Watson said. “When I saw Victor’s signature double cardigan, I knew I wanted him to do this for us. His men’s wear is so fun, bright and colorful — very Bendel’s, so I knew it would translate well in our store. We spent six months trying to track him down, and we are so glad we found him.”

Glemaud launched his men’s wear line in 2006 after working as a design assistant for Patrick Robinson and a publicist at KCD. His line sells only at a few select retailers including Fred Segal in Los Angeles. He said he never considered launching any women’s wear, but when Watson finally got in touch with him, he figured he would give it a shot.

“Girls usually buy the men’s cardigan in smaller sizes,” Glemaud said. “So I knew it would work well for women. It was an easy decision to collaborate with Ann.”

The double cardigan sweaters, which will run in limited edition, will hit the Bendel’s selling floor and henribendel.com in August. They also will be displayed in the store’s Fifth Avenue window for one week in August.

The sweaters come in three color combos: pale gray and bright pink; black and charcoal gray, and camel and leopard print. All are 100 percent cashmere and accented with shiny gold buttons and will retail for $348 each. There will be 50 of each color produced, for a total of 150 sweaters for sale.

This story first appeared in the April 17, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Watson said she hopes to collaborate with a new designer at least once every year, and possibly even once every season.

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