The brown-and-white-striped shopping bag has arrived in Las Vegas. Fashion mavens have come to recognize the branding just as well as they do the little blue box. It means Henri Bendel is finally here.
The new boutique at Fashion Show mall strictly boasts jewelry, leather goods, gifts and home fragrance. And, all of it belongs to the Henri Bendel brand.
"There's nothing in this store with another label on it," says Chris Fiore, president of Henri Bendel.
Shoppers here won't find the same buffet of obscure, up-and-coming designers they would discover at the iconic New York store on Fifth Avenue. That location holds semiannual "Open See" events in which unknowns basically go through a fashion audition before buyers, with hopes the 116-year-old store will pick up their goods.
The process has introduced to the fashion scene such notable designers as Todd Oldham, Anna Sui and Pamela Dennis. It started in the '60s and is really an extension of the founder's fashion principles, which emphasized innovation. Henri Bendel, after all, introduced the United States to Coco Chanel and Lanvin.
But, that's the store in New York and, as Fiore says, "New York is New York."
"You can't take that concept across America," he says. "People have tried and it hasn't succeeded."
Rumors have swirled for years that Barneys New York would close its department store at the Palazzo because of disappointing sales. It's remained open, but a casual stroll through the store rarely boasts a bustling shopping scene.
Fred Segal tried to expand on its New York location 20 years ago in Chicago on Michigan Avenue. It failed.
Since then, the main store dropped all apparel and developed its own collection. Merchandising the Henri Bendel label allowed for a mall-friendly concept across the country, including such locations as Columbus, Ohio, Arlington, Va., and now Las Vegas
"In casual research," says Tom Julian, a retail consultant and owner of the Tom Julian Group, "women will say that this store's look, feel goes right along with the designer brands that merchandise fun accessories."
He calls the price points "affordable luxury."
Case in point, a handbag covered in calf hair with a hematite tassel and lining in purple (Henri Bendel's favorite color), costs $598. A luxury brand would start a similar-looking bag around $1,500, according to Fiore.
A newly launched line of sunglasses (available here a week before the New York store) starts at $125 and stay less than $200.
Many of the bracelets and bangles - "We stand for the wrist," says Fiore - feature Swarovski crystals and stay less than $150. The Deluxe Girlfriend, an evolution of the friendship bracelet, costs $128; the Harry bangle, also available as a ring, neckpiece and bracelet, is $148; and the King Tut, which comes in mother of pearl, onyx and tortoise, has a $148 price tag.
Staying on-trend, art deco necklaces and statement jewelry is available in bulk.
The travel candles ($15 each), with scents such as Persian lime, firewood and autumn noir, and the cosmetic ($28-$125) and travel bags ($280-$699) complete the store offerings, which the brand likes to refer to as "The Girl's Playground."
Fiore says the brand appeals to women aged 18-60, but the real target customer is 30.
"She's a cool girl with a nice job," he says. "She likes to indulge herself, she's sophisticated, fashionable and likes to look good."
Limor Cohen can check-mark most of that description. Wearing an oversize, white distressed tee hanging off one shoulder and cowboy boots, she's trying on horizontal headbands ($38) and asking a salesperson to hold them at the counter while she has a look around. Cohen's already created a considerable stack, and she only walked in minutes ago.
She's not familiar with the Henri Bendel brand, but she's a "big shopper," who frequents stores ranging from Saks Fifth Avenue to Bebe.
Her thoughts on the brand thus far? "It's amazing. I like this stuff," she says. "For me, it's like a playground."
Henri Bendel is at Fashion Show mall, 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 836-9829.
Contact Xazmin Garza at email@example.com or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.