It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention, and perhaps nowhere is that spirit more readily seen than in San Francisco. On Oct. 1, leather goods brand Frye will open its first West Coast store in the city that bred both Levi’s and Uber, and it’s combining the town’s rich heritage with a plugged-in, high-tech retail concept.
Frye’s new 800-square-foot unit will be at 2047 Fillmore Street, and is the latest in a spate of stores to open this fall in the tony shopping district.
In addition to trademark details such as a harness chandelier hanging from leather straps, it’s adding to the mix an interactive “Maker Wall,” which offers a digital interactive gallery that is equipped with radio-frequency identification, or RFID, technology. At the Maker Wall, which was created with New York agency The Science project, customers can hold up a leather swatch and, using the RFID tag, see other items available in that color and potentially click-through to purchase. The experience is similar to browsing, selecting and shopping for product online.
Frye president Adrienne Lazarus said the concept not only maximizes the smaller space to accommodate Frye’s broad assortment, but is a nod to the spirit of its new home.
“It’s the second-oldest brand in America, and coupled with today’s innovation, it is such an interesting mix. It’s a synthesis of how we see the store,” she said. “There’s a sense of history and heritage, and a celebration of being 153 years old.”
She also acknowledged the history and tradition of San Francisco, where the gold rush brought denim into prominence and the Gap later defined American casualwear.
The store takes advantage of Frye’s real-world appeal in the form of a café window that opens into the street, and rather than drawing in shoppers with the smell of, say, coffee and croissants, attracts them with the smell of leather, Lazarus said. “People come because they smell the leather and follow that,” she said. “The first reaction we get is something leather related, like, ‘What else is available in that leather?'”
Going forward, Lazarus said, stores will continue to localize. A new Nashville store will include a performance stage and a Denver store will have a fireplace with boot warmers and hot cocoa.