Why Henri Bendel was the Pioneer of Self-Branding
The brown and white stripes of Henri Bendel have served as a beacon of luxury for over 100 years. But the man behind the stripes, Henri Bendel himself, was much more than a savvy businessman with a knack for design. Bendel was a true pioneer who made his mark by becoming the first retailer to literally and figuratively brand himself.
Today, ‘self-branding’ is as common and essential in commercial marketing as the business itself. But when Bendel moved to New York from Louisiana at the turn of the 20th century, it was a revolutionary idea.
Becoming a Tastemaker
Bendel opened his first hat shop in Greenwich Village in 1895. His impeccable taste and flair for luxury made him an instant hit with the city’s elite. His brand quickly associated itself with the best of the best. With a committed following and an established reputation as a fearless purveyor of high-fashion, Bendel re-opened his store on the upper east side. Henri Bendel became the first luxury retailer with a fifth-avenue address.
What followed was a cascade of ‘firsts’: Henri Bendel became the first brand to hold a semi-annual sale, the first to offer in-house makeovers, the first to stage a fashion show, and the first to introduce Coco Chanel to American buyers. Bendel is even credited with discovering Andy Warhol, who began as the in-house illustrator.
Throughout the 20th century, the trademarked brown and white stripes that were synonymous with innovation and taste became synonymous with the man himself. Bendel had successfully secured his name and brand in the echelons of luxury fashion.
Reinventing the Brand
Like many historic brands, the house of Henri Bendel has succeeded in evolving with the times. As the first retail shop branded after its creator, Henri Bendel continues to deliver on the vision of its founder while expanding on his original scope. Now, with nearly thirty stores across the country, the benchmark store on fifth avenue sells its eponymous collections exclusively. Creative director Pina Ferlisi sees it as an opportunity to build upon what the passionate founder had intended: a lasting stronghold on the world of luxury fashion.
Discover the Brand
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