Free People, in December, will open a two-level, 6,000-square-foot store at 79 Fifth Avenue in New York's Flatiron District. It will be its first store in Manhattan.
The brand, which is part of Urban Outfitters Inc., was launched in 1984 as a division that made clothes for Urban stores. Free People started selling its clothing to other retailers in 1990 and now has 1,500 specialty store accounts. Nordstrom has often cited Free People as one of its top brands.
Free People, in 2002, opened its first store — mainly as an advertising vehicle — at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J. The unit's success convinced the company to open additional stores, and there are now 11 stores in the chain. The company has said that it eventually hopes to open 100 stores.
Free People, which appeals to women in their 20s, takes an eclectic approach to fashion, layering different textures and colors for an offbeat bohemian look. While most of the apparel is private label, stores sell jeans by True Religion, at $288, and Goldsign, $198. The clothing has a handmade quality. Examples of current Free People looks include Fair Isle baby-doll sweaters, $78; sweater coats with ruffle sleeves, $168, and paisley print dresses, $138. Prices for shoes and jewelry can exceed $300. Like Urban Outfitters' Anthropologie brand, Free People sells some furniture, such unusual pieces as a vintage steamer trunk for $2,700 and a French reproduction chair covered in bright pink and blue quilts from Rajasthan, India.
The division's performance has been strong. Free People had a comp-store sales increase of 8 percent in the first quarter ended April 30, and wholesale business jumped 12 percent. For the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, comp-store sales advanced 4 percent and wholesale sales jumped 29 percent.
Residents, office workers and shoppers in the Flatiron District seem to favor young, trendy apparel. H&M, Club Monaco, Coach and Jo Malone have stores in the neighborhood, as does Anthropologie. Kate Spade, Miss Sixty and G-Star are all coming soon. Restaurants such as Eleven Madison Park, Craft Bar, Gramercy Tavern, Mesa Grill and BLT Prime also drive traffic.
Free People is looking for additional stores in Manhattan, said Robert K. Futterman, who represented the tenant and is chief executive officer of the real estate company bearing his name. "They're looking on the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, downtown and the boroughs, and they just opened a store in Greenwich, Conn.," he said. "They really fit into the Flatiron neighborhood. There's some youthfulness to the Flatiron District. The neighborhood is on fire." Asking rents are $250 to $350 per square foot, he said.The design of Free People stores is as offbeat as the merchandise. Some have a loft apartment feel, others have a greenhouse style and some have a modern sensibility. Handmade fixtures and carefully selected music contribute to the atmosphere.
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)