Frances Valentine is continuing its growth trajectory with a category expansion.
The lifestyle brand cofounded by Elyce Arons is debuting its first denim collection on Monday. The collection consists of two styles: The Casey Five-Pocket Jean designed in a classic straight fit and the Judy Wide Leg Jean in a high-waisted cut. Both jeans are created in a dark denim wash and are priced at $398 each.
“It really goes back to what we all keep in our closet for denim,” Arons said. “Trendy styles come and go, so to invest in a really good pair of five-pocket jeans or high-waisted wide-leg jeans I think is really the best way for us to go forward with our denim. Everything we do is not based on trend. It’s always classic styles and things that you want to keep for years and years. These two jeans really fit into that category for us.”
Arons leveraged her background growing up on a farm in Kansas for the collection, looking to the overalls and jeans she wore to give the lineup a workwear feel. The brand worked with a manufacturer in Louisiana and production factory in Texas for the denim line.
The cofounder also looked to her time working at Girbaud prior to launching Frances Valentine for the denim collection. Arons explained she learned about denim washes while at Girbaud and leveraged that knowledge for the collection.
On how the denim collection falls in line with Frances Valentine’s aesthetic, Arons explained: “Our aesthetic is really joyful dressing and it’s clothes that make you happy, so we knew we wanted to add denim. We’ve done a few pairs of jeans in the past and they’re really soft and beautiful and I love them, but when it came to a true pair of American-made denim jeans, these really fit into our collection because everything is about keeping them for a long time. It’s the opposite of fast fashion. It’s not trend-driven, but it’s classic pieces that feel good anytime throughout the years.”
Frances Valentine’s denim collection comes as the brand has experienced sustained growth since the beginning of the pandemic. According to the brand, in 2021 Frances Valentine experienced growth of 62 percent in its e-commerce sales and 236 percent in retail as customers returned to physical stores.
The growth continued into 2022, with an increase of 260 percent in its wholesale business after the brand relaunched wholesale operations. Frances Valentine entered Neiman Marcus last May and Saks Fifth Avenue’s website in October.
Arons explained the growth has been fueled by the brand diversifying its omnichannel approach. Apparel has remained as the brand’s top-selling category, with more formal pieces the bestsellers.
The brand has also built out its retail strategy with more stand-alone stores. Last year Frances Valentine opened stores in Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama, making their total store count six locations. This year the company has leases signed in Alexandria, Virginia, and Naples, Florida, and is hoping to open more locations across the country.
“People are so happy to get out and shop and touch and feel things,” Arons said about the brand’s retail presence. “I think our stores have that really inviting feeling like it’s your best friend’s apartment or home, so it feels really good to walk in and have a friend help you with finding things you like.”
After the denim collection’s launch, Frances Valentine is continuing to grow formalwear with the launch of its spring collection that offers bridal-themed pieces, such as outfits for a bride, bridesmaids or wedding guests. The company is also launching a fragrance this spring.