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Freemans Sporting Club and co-owner Taavo Somer are in expansion mode. The hip New York retailer will open its first West Coast store next month in San Francisco in the Mission District.
This story first appeared in the March 17, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The company has also created a line of co-branded casual sneakers with PF Flyers and is launching its first wholesale program to sell the shoes to other retailers. The sneakers will hit stores in May, including the two Freemans Sporting Club boutiques in New York and about 10 wholesale accounts, including American Rag; Conveyor at Fred Segal Santa Monica; Local 35 in Portland, Ore.; Union Made and Villains in San Francisco, and Revolveclothing.com.
Additionally, Somer is adding to his trio of trendy Manhattan restaurants and bars — Freemans, Peels and The Rusty Knot — with a new Mediterranean-influenced dining establishment called Isa that will open early this summer in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The 75-seat restaurant will feature a wood-fired oven and the kitchen will be overseen by Ignacio Mattos, the former chef at Il Buco.
The canvas sneaker line features reissues of two vintage 1949 styles from the PF Flyers archive, including a saddle shoe, which retails for $70, and a low boot at $80. Each style is available in three colors. PF Flyers was founded by the B.F Goodrich Co. in 1937 and is now owned by Boston-based New Balance.
“The plan is to develop more styles on our own and make this an ongoing business,” said Somer of the footwear initiative. “We were interested in working with PF Flyers because New Balance has manufacturing facilities in Maine that we’d eventually like to use for the shoes.”
Freemans Sporting Club sells its own branded collections of suits, sportswear and a few accessories, in addition to outside labels like Matt Brown belts, Billy Kirk bags, E. Vogel shoes and Corvus watches. The retailer has a policy of trying to make all of its products close to its stores, with 90 percent of the product made in New York and most of the remainder in L.A.
Freemans Sporting Club rings up annual sales of just under $5 million and is overseen by Somer and partners Kent Kilroe and William Tigertt. Somer has other partners and investors in his various restaurants as well as two F.S.C. barber shops in New York. A third F.S.C. barber shop will be attached to the new San Francisco clothing store.
Somer and partners Sam and Jonah Buffa, who oversee the barber shops, aren’t disclosing the address of the 1,500-square-foot San Francisco unit until closer to its opening. A Los Angeles outpost of Freemans Sporting Club is next on the agenda for Somer.