Henri Bendel is Forever Closing Its Doors After 123 Years
The iconic brown and white stripes of Bendel are forever leaving New York City.
Luxury retailer Henri Bendel has announced the closing of its flagship store on Fifth Avenue and its other 23 locations, including the shutdown of the website. After 123 years of leading the luxury retail industry, the company plans to close the iron gates in January 2019, forever leaving a hole in the heart of New York.
Retail fashion has been endangered for years while shoppers have been turning to online sources for merchandise. L-Brands, the parent company of Bendel, announced on September 13 that due to a decrease in sales in 2018— and increased retail competition, it will be closing down. The stock is down 55% this year, making it one of the worst performing companies in the S&P 500 for the year (CNN Money). L-Brand’s statements reveal they are closing Bendel "to improve company profitability and focus on our larger brands that have greater growth potential," which include Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret.
Bendel's partnered with tech unicorn Rent the Runway to try and boost sales through dress rentals. Rent the Runway was founded by our CEO Alexander Fleiss' sister-in-law, Jennifer Fleiss.
Jennifer Fleiss & Alexander Fleiss at Rent the Runway's Henri Bendel in-store debut, back in 2013.
The Christmas display competed annually for the most visited New York City holiday attractions among tourists.
The Christmas decorations inside the store left little to the imagination.
The upscale store was founded in 1895 by Henri Willis Bendel, a Louisianan who moved to New York City to pursue his dream of fashion merchandising. The first store opened in Greenwich Village in 1895, soon becoming a huge hit. In 1907, the iconic brown and white packaging was introduced, and has remained a part of the status symbol it is today. That same year, Bendel’s became the first U.S. retailer to carry Coco Chanel designs. In 1913, the brand became one of the first luxury retailers to open a flagship store with an "upper Fifth Avenue address," according to its website. Bendel's remained independent for nearly a century thanks to Henri Willis Bendel's leaving nearly half of the company to his employees.
Eventually, L-Brands acquired Bendel in 1985 and led its expansion into 11 states with over 28 retail stores.
The brand name of 'Henri Bendel' has become extremely respected and valuable. The logo has found its way on to all sorts of items including travel beds for cats.
Not only was Bendel an upscale retailer, but it was also a landmark building, reaching this status in 2010. The store became famous for its elegant lighting, spiral marble staircases, and floor to ceiling windows, attracting customers from around the world.
The history of Bendel’s includes the creation of the Bendel Girl, which has been featured on hit TV shows such as Gossip Girl. Bendel closing will leave a physical imprint in New York’s iconic Fifth Avenue fashion skyline, signifying the end of an era.
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Written by Chanel Qin, Edited by Jack Vasquez & Alexander Fleiss