The bohemian-inspired ready-to-wear, activewear and innerwear brand — which is owned by Urban Outfitters Inc. — has teamed up with the fashion designer for its latest collaboration in an effort to reach a new, possibly older, demographic.
“We enjoy partnering with companies and people that inspire us and allow us to combine our handwritings in a way that creates beautiful product that reaches both [the Free People and Anna Sui] customers in a meaningful and emotional way,” Ana Hartl, Free People’s chief creative officer, told WWD.
The limited-edition collaboration includes 20 styles — such as dresses, tops, jackets, skirts and more in a variety of colors and prints — and is the brand’s first U.S. designer partnership. (Free People previously partnered with U.K. designer Zandra Rhodes on a limited-edition capsule collection last summer.)
Hartl added that Free People has been a fan of Sui for some time.
“She shares a similar love of print, embellishment and super cool styling and always has done it in such a beautiful, elevated way,” the executive said. “The collaboration between the [Free People] collection and Anna Sui was effortless in its celebration of pattern, embellishment and styling.”
And the duo appears to share a mutual admiration.
“I love shopping Free People,” the designer said. “I especially love the unique selection of artisanal, vintage and bohemian essentials.
“This collaboration is truly a privilege,” Sui added. “I can’t wait to see the customer’s reaction to these unique pieces. There is the perfect blend of iconic Anna Sui feminine, rock-influenced, vintage-inspired DNA and everything that Free People consistently represents: artful, innovative and free-spirited style.”
The partnership comes as many retailers struggle to retain consumers who are trading down on apparel purchases because of continued inflationary pressures, either by way of spending more on experiences, or simply not buying as many discretionary fashion items all together.
Meanwhile, more affluent shoppers, including consumers at Free People’s slightly upscale sister brand Anthropologie, seemed less fazed by price hikes, and many continue to treat themselves with new apparel purchases.
Case in point, profits at Urban Outfitters Inc. — which counts Urban Outfitters, the Anthropologie Group, Free People, Terrain and Bhldn, among its brands, in addition to rental subscription service Nuuly and a food and beverage business under the greater company umbrella — fell by nearly $68 million in the most recent quarter despite top-line gains in the Free People and Anthropologie brands.
Richard A. Hayne, chief executive officer of Urban Outfitters Inc., spoke to analysts about this “bicuration” of shoppers during the company’s conference call. He explained that the total company’s decreased earnings was thanks to a combination of higher prices and budget-conscious — often younger — shoppers pulling back on their spending. The Urban brand tends to skew younger, compared with Anthropologie, while the age range at Free People tends to encompass both demographics. The partnership with Sui allows Free People to direct its attention to a more affluent group of consumers. (Prices in the Free People x Anna Sui collaboration range from $48 to $1,000 a piece.)
The collection comes in sizes XS to XL and can be found at freepeople.com and select Free People stores, starting Monday.