After 30 years in business, executives at the 248-store retailer hope to erase any perception of it left from the Nineties as a place for teenagers to shop for prom dresses and tight logo T-shirts. Bebe’s target audience — fashion-savvy women in their 20s and 30s with lots of disposable income — is similar to A|X Armani, BCBG, Diesel and Guess.
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"We don’t want to be a junior retailer," said Scott, adding that the company is seeking sophistication in all facets of the business.
Bebe’s latest push to polish its affordable luxury credentials was the opening in September of an accessories and footwear boutique, Neda by bebe, in San Francisco. The stores are named for Bebe’s vice chairman, Neda Mashouf, the wife of chairman and founder Manny Mashouf. A second Neda by bebe is to open next year in Los Angeles, and other locations will follow.
The merchandise under the Neda by bebe label is Italian made and sells for about $250 to $500, including items such as $260 suede-patent leather satchels; $330 round-toe, red patent leather high heels with an ankle strap, and $500 rabbit fur baguette shoulder purses. There is a smattering of shoes in the $500 range from other designers, such as Terry de Havilland’s retro-Seventies platform sandals updated in a python print. Neda Mashouf said the store wasn’t stocked with a list of must-have trends in mind. "Personally, I don’t like to carry the ‘It,’ bag," she said.
Neda by bebe is intended to fill what company executives consider to be a gap in the accessories and footwear market between high-end labels and luxury names. That realm would fall above Charles David and Stuart Weitzman, but below Dolce & Gabbana and Prada. The Neda label is a step above the accessories line already sold in Bebe stores and is being expanded.