Truly individual style
Bebe celebrates its new Oahu store with one-of-a-kind clothes
As much as we'd all like to get our hands on one-of-a-kind apparel to spare us the embarrassment of encountering a "twin" when out on the town, most of us just don't have the inclination to start sewing or the means to shop for high-end exclusive items or to enlist the services of a dressmaker.
Bebe has studied its customers' desires and, to celebrate the opening of its new flagship boutique at Royal Hawaiian Center, is offering a collection of 15 one-of-a-kind garments, at ready-to-wear prices of $129 to $179.
Speaking by phone about the collection, as it coincides with a recent downturn in market conditions, Bebe CEO Greg Scott said, "The economy is definitely in our thoughts about everything we do."
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He doesn't believe that the financial situation will dampen the desire for fashion, but said value is important to consumers when basics can be found at every price point.
With most closets already stuffed with basics, the typical Bebe customer "is not looking for basics right now," he said. "She wants things that are one of a kind, that are going to make her feel special. What's important is, does it look great? Does she love it? She's looking for things she's going to wear to events. That's typical of our brand and even more so now."
The Hawaii one-of-a-kinds will feature prints in Bebe's current collections, but in styles no one else will have.
"We don't do it very often, but we wanted to present something special when we open our flagship stores," Scott said.
Some of the prints available in Bebe's regular line at top will also be available in one-of-a-kind garments. Bebe's one-of-a-kind tunic dress, created as an exclusive item to celebrate the boutique's Royal Hawaiian Center grand opening, is priced at $159.
The Hawaii line is only the second such collection. The first was presented when Bebe opened at Oakbrook Center in Chicago.
"When they saw it was something no one else was gonna have, it sold out in one day," Scott said.
Bebe first opened in Hawaii at Ala Moana Center in 1994, focusing on contemporary women's apparel and accessories for those 21 to 35. Since then, Hawaii has become one of the chain's top five stores nationwide for sales of logo merchandise. The second story of the Royal Hawaiian Center location will be dedicated to logo merchandise, including grand-opening T-shirts and bags reading, "Bebe loves Hawaii."
The company has been in expansion mode, having opened in Singapore, Thailand, China and Dubai. Due to trademark issues with its name, the company has not yet been able to open in Japan, so Hawaii continues to be an important link to Japan and other international markets.
And, like other retailers aiming to appeal to shoppers' label mania, the company recently teamed up with Tara Subkoff, indie darling and founder of Imitation of Christ, on a capsule collection of romantic, sexy dresses for summer 2008, priced at about $129 on its Web site.
At the center of the company's planning are the approximately 2 million customers enrolled in its client loyalty program, Club Bebe, which allows members to share their shopping likes and dislikes, whims that can change at any moment.
Scott remains unfazed about what the economy or the women will cast his way. "We're always looking for what we can do better," he said.