NEW YORK — Henri Bendel shoppers have never been of the shy, retiring variety. Their taste leans toward anything embellished and encrusted, the more decoration the merrier.
This story first appeared in the December 29, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
So it makes sense then that Bendel’s would enlist the help of Crystallized-Swarovski Elements and create a co-branded accessories collection on sale at the Fifth Avenue flagship here, and 10 other Bendel’s stores.
“Our girl loves bling and shine and shimmer,” said Ed Bucciarelli, president and chief executive officer of Bendel’s.
In April, the retailer announced it would no longer sell apparel and would focus on its core categories: accessories, beauty and gifts. Bendel’s has put the Crystallized-Swarovski Elements connection to especially good use in the holiday season. A variety of items — 100 in all — were dusted with the crystals, which look like the colored sugar that covers jelly candies.
“We’re developing our own brand and we wanted a segment of the brand to be about shine and sparkle,” Bucciarelli said. “We are clearly going after businesses within our brand that have to do with sparkle, such as jewelry and other areas. Swarovski-enhanced product is approaching 15 percent of the total, which is significant.”
While Crystallized-Swarovski Elements enhance products physically, they are also perceived by consumers to add value to an item.
“Crystals make products more valuable,” Bucciarelli said. “Our customers are very value-conscious. A light goes off in their heads that says, ‘This is Swarovski crystal.’”
Bendel’s and Swarovski were founded in 1895 and both companies are built around quality and heritage, Bucciarelli said.
The collection includes an Italian nappa leather handbag with chain inlay quilting and Crystallized-Swarovski Elements-encrusted pavé ball charm, $695. There’s lifestyle accessories such as a bottle stopper encrusted with crystal and smoky quartz in signature Henri Bendel stripes, $98; a dog collar with Crystallized-Swarovski Elements hand-applied on stripe jacquard fabric with leather trim, $88, and Deos ear buds surrounded with Crystallized-Swarovski Elements, $98.
Bucciarelli said bestsellers include a $495 leather pouch-style handbag with hanging Swarovski crystals, a cocktail debutante ring, $78, and a compact with a rivet design embedded with crystals, $48. A Christmas ornament shows the Bendel’s lady and her dog in brown and white crystals, $98.
The collection “has performed way beyond our expectations,” Bucciarelli said. “There’s a willingness on both our parts to continue.”
“There’s very little promotional activity right now and that’s how we believe our brand should be behaving,” he said. ”