New York City

Luxury Retailer and Fifth Avenue Icon Henri Bendel Is Closing After 123 Years

The luxury retailer, which opened in NYC more than a century ago, is shutting down

What to Know

  • Henri Bendel, which first opened in Greenwich Village more than a century ago, is shutting down all its stores in January, its owner says
  • Its Fifth Avenue flagship store became a landmark in the city -- that one and 22 smaller-format stores in 11 states will close for good
  • L Brands Inc., which acquired Henri Bendel in 1985, says it wants to focus on larger brands with more growth potential

Luxury retailer Henri Bendel, which opened its doors in Greenwich Village at the end of the 19th century and has a landmark flagship on Fifth Avenue, is closing. 

L Brands Inc., which acquired the brand in 1985, said that all 23 Bendel stores -- including the flagship Fifth Avenue location and smaller-format stores in 11 states -- and the website will shut down in January.

The Columbus, Ohio-based international empire, which operates 3,084 company-owned specialty stores including Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works -- across the globe said it wants focus on larger brands with more growth potential. 

The brand is a New York City legend, established in 1895 by women's hat maker Henri Bendel who moved to the city from Louisiana. Bendel began catering to the city's elite, making the stores' brown and white striped shopping and bags and hat boxes a coveted status symbol. In the 1960s, its in-house illustrator was a young artist named Andy Warhol. It became the first retailer to have its own fragrance, offer in-store makeovers and stage its own fashion show. 

The franchise opened more than two dozen stores, selling high-end hangbags, jewelry and accessories that became favorited by celebrities who helped launch it into the upper echelon of fashion brands -- one that would later be accompanied by high-quality lines from Kate Spade and Michael Kors. 

It's the latest shutdown of an iconic retailer or its flagship in the city. Earlier this year, Lord & Taylor announced it was shuttering its Fifth Avenue flagship location after 104 years. The department store's owner sold the building to WeWork, who planned to turn it into its global headquarters. 

Fabled toy store FAO Schwarz shut down its Fifth Avenue shop in 2015. Just recently, it announced plans to reopen its flagship in Rockefeller Center in November (and you could land a job dancing on its iconic piano). 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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