NEW YORK — Henri Bendel is taking a walk on the wild side.
This August, the Fifth Avenue specialty store will install an exclusive boutique devoted to the designs of Brazilian shoe maven Constança Basto. The 250-square-foot space will resemble Basto’s retail outlets in Brazil and feature orange and white striped fabric chairs and loveseats, along with a crystal chandelier for an intimate boudoir-like feel. It will be situated on the third floor, adjacent to the Y3 and New Creator area.
“It has been a long time coming,” said Ed Burstell, Bendel’s vice president and general manager. “We waited for the right match. The shoe business has always been a big part of Bendel’s — it was legendary.
“We’ve had to take a step back, look at the market and at what our customer wants. But, far and away, shoes have been the number-one requested category from our customers,” he continued.
Burstell explained that many of the distribution deals for designer shoes were already tied up in that upscale retail neighborhood, so the store needed to offer a unique product to its customers.
“When Constança hit American shores, we were on top of it right away. What’s not to love? They’re sexy and Brazilian,” said Burstell.
Basto describes her shoe styles as “very sexy — nude feet, high sandals, thin heels, colorful, full of crystals — and very happy.”
The designer opened her first U.S. boutique last December on Hudson Street here and has three boutiques in Brazil. Retail prices at Bendel’s will range from $265 to $425. Industry sources estimate the in-store shop will garner approximately $500,000 annually for Bendel’s.