The trendy New York City-based retailer will open a flagship in Tokyo next month and two additional stores in Japan over the next two years. Freemans, a favorite of hipsters since opening on the Lower East Side seven years ago, currently operates two stores in New York and one in San Francisco and also has a wholesale collection. In addition to its men’s wear line, Freemans operates a barber shop, restaurant and bespoke suit department at its Rivington Street store, a concept that it will be bringing to Japan.
The Freemans store was designed by company founder and architect Taavo Somer and is intended to be reminiscent of a New York City brownstone. It is opening in partnership with Yagi Tsusho Ltd., which licenses and distributes the FSC brand in Japan along with other American and European labels including Moncler, Mackintosh, Barbour and Woolrich. Urban Research is a sublicensee and the retail partner. Under the terms of the deal, Urban Research will also open a yet-to-be-determined number of FSC in-store shops at its 104 stores in Asia.
“We’ve always had a relationship with the Japanese since we opened the store seven years ago,” said Somer.
“And we have a pretty passionate following of Japanese here,” added Kent Kilroe, Freemans managing director.
Somer said Freemans had been approached by several Japanese companies who sought to bring the brand to that country, “but we said it had to be whole package — the restaurant, bar, barber shop and store,” Somer said. “And these guys said they wanted to bring our vision to Japan.” Kilroe noted: “They appreciate how each element has to work together. That’s what separates us from the myriad of men’s wear brands out there.”
The Aoyama store will be five levels and have an outdoor vertical garden, Somer said. The building is modern, but Freemans has Photoshopped a 60-foot brownstone on the exterior to simulate its Rivington Street store.
The ground floor will carry FSC’s sportswear collection and a multibrand assortment of casualwear, including the company’s newly inked collaborations with the denim brand God of Denim, leather accessories from The Superior Labor and performance suits from its collaboration with Outlier. Allen Edmonds footwear and Viberg boots will also be offered.
The upper levels will feature FSC’s tailored clothing including off-the-rack and made-to-measure suits and accessories as well as a full bench-made bespoke suiting studio modeled after the original that opened in New York City last May. The lower level will include a restaurant-bar with an outdoor patio as well as a barbershop. Jim Meehan, a well-known designer of cocktails, is creating special drinks for the store, and the restaurant will be operated by Kinfolk.
The mix will include some Japanese leather goods and accessories from artisans in that country. “Our philosophy is to support the local economies,” Kilroe said.
The barber shop will feature a large aquarium as well as authentic New York City subway tiles.
Closer to home, FSC is expanding its store on Rivington Street. It has acquired about 1,000 square feet next door to its existing 750-square-foot unit to add a suit shop and a Japanese-inspired sports bar. Construction is currently under way, and the addition is expected to open later this spring or summer.
That store, as well as the one in Tokyo, will sell two new suit models: the House Cut, a semi-custom suit that will be shown without sleeves or a collar and with basting throughout the garment, and the Freeman, an American-made, full-canvas off-the-rack garment that will retail for $1,200. Kilroe said the House Cut, which will sell for $2,980, is easier to customize to a shopper and is a “hybrid way of making a suit.” The Freeman model is half the price of the company’s current off-the-rack suit, which sells for $2,500, and significantly lower priced than the bespoke model, which is $4,000 and up. It uses a different factory that the executives declined to name and features less handwork and a premade canvas.
“We’re trying to capture the customer who shopped us for his sportswear but couldn’t afford our ready-to-wear,” Kilroe said. “We believe there’s a real need in the market for affordable, American-made product.” Those products will also be sold in Tokyo.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast