Come Wednesday, quintessential California retailer Fred Segal will launch a Web site, fredsegal.com, and with it, the company’s ability to reach consumers across the U.S. and the globe will multiply exponentially.
It’s one of the initiatives of Sandow, which acquired Fred Segal in 2012, and it’s more than a year in the making. Paul Blum, the chief executive officer of Fred Segal, said the company is making progress on its aggressive growth plan, which includes opening lifestyle centers with up to 50,000 square feet of space.
Fred Segal in April opened a 10,000-square-foot shopping center that anchors a brand new real estate development in Daikanyama, one of Tokyo’s hottest shopping districts. Blum said a larger complex in Yokahama is in the works. “It’s a waterfront retail project that’s taking a lot of time and effort. We are also finding the next location for the next lifestyle center. We’re looking at mainland U.S.,” Blum kidded. “We’re looking in Brooklyn and L.A. We’re interested in a number of areas.”
Blum expressed surprise that Fred Segal didn’t have a Web site. “It’s pretty ironic that it’s a brand so well known and loved by so many people and it’s had no digital marketing or Web site,” he said. “Everyone has their own Fred Segal story. They’ve been allowed to create a story because there hasn’t been any marketing. They have filled in their own image of what Fred Segal is.”
The company will now gently wrest that story back from its fans and build its own image, while allowing them to voice their opinions and share stories.
Fredsegal.com is content-driven rather than commerce-driven by design.
“There are so many index sites, the biggest being Amazon,” Blum said. “You can find very wide assortment of products in many different ways. We didn’t want to compete with them or be seen as one of those types of sites.”
Rather, Blum said, fredsegal.com will convey the brand’s message. The site will focus on a particular topic of interest and dissect it through essays, musings and different perspectives. The inaugural topic is “Rivet” as it relates to denim and jeans. Writers such as Emily Spivack, creator of the Worn Stories Web site; Melissa Magsaysay, cofounder of the Hive and a former style writer for the Los Angeles Times, and actress and musician Sasha Spielberg are among those who weigh in.
“These are the emerging celebrities of the future,” Blum said of the writers. “I’m not interested in celebrities and what they do [that makes them famous.] Fred Segal is a smart brand. We’re getting people who have something to say.”
The Web site ‘s e-commerce component is a highly edited selection of men’s and women’s apparel to accompany the “Rivet” theme with a focus on jeans from brands such as 3X1, Fabric, Ksubi and Mother, among others. Exclusive limited-edition and collaborative products also will be sold on the site and will change frequently.
“We focused on [the writers] and their stories rather than just being a display of every product available,” Blum said. “There are people who do that well. We’ll evolve into more products as the customer tells us they want to see a wider selection. What our customer has told us is that they’re overwhelmed by the amount of choices out there. By keeping the assortment really tight, it’s clear what we stand for. Curation and choice-making is the ultimate luxury.”
Denim was chosen as the opening theme of fredsegal.com because Fred Segal, the founder, was “one of the early pioneers of fashion denim,” Blum said. “We figured we’d start there.
“In addition, we’re launching our Japan store and the Japanese are obsessed with the origins of denim,” he said. “Premium Cool: A Brief History of Fashion Jeans,” by James Sullivan and “Let Freedamn Ring,” Rin Tanaka’s take of vintage denim in America, along with “Denim in Japan,” an interview with the Real McCoy’s founder Hitoshi Tsujimoto, have that angle covered.
Blum claimed to have “no idea of size of business. It’s not that kind of initiative. We have many thousands of people who have signed up for the site and are really interested in what we have to say. It’s something that will unfold.”