What’s next for The Frankie Shop

What’s next for The Frankie Shop

On Crosby Street in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood, shoppers have long lined up to buy pleated corduroys and cortados from cult menswear label Aimé Leon Dore. But lately, there’s been an equally large queue outside the shop next door, as consumers flock to buy monochromatic basics and oversized blazers at womenswear label’s latest pop-up store, The Frankie Shop.

Founded in New York’s Lower East Side by ex-journalist Gaëlle Drevet in 2014, The Frankie Shop has quietly built a small empire of utilitarian women’s clothing. The brand’s hero products, including quilted jackets, monochromatic tracksuits, oversized blazers, T-shirts and cargo pants, are often seen on Instagram influencers alongside the “Frankie Girl” hashtag. Even more impressive is that while the brand is an influencer favorite with a wide social media presence — a million followers on Instagram alone — Drevet rarely forms paid partnerships or collaborations.

That may be partly due to her understanding of what influencers want to wear on the catwalks and social media trends a season or two later.

“I’m on my phone a lot checking on people and also being influenced,” she said. For example, the brand’s best-selling Eva T-shirt was named after influencer Eva Smyrniotaki after a discussion between the two about the perfect shirt.

To keep up with demand, the brand has expanded its team and physical presence over the past year, establishing a slew of new wholesale partnerships, including Matchesfashion and Ssense. It also launched a home department along with menswear last year, and with the rise of gender-fluid dressing, Drevet notes that most consumers shop across different categories. In 2022, the private brand has brought in $40 million in net sales to date with 100 percent year-over-year growth.

“Our big challenge now is to manage this success,” says Drevet.

Waitlist wins

The Frankie Shop releases new products every week, but rather than all-new drops, most are iterations of styles from the past. Silhouettes and the brand’s general ethos remain the same, but with changes to materials and colors with the seasons to maintain a sense of newness each week.

The hyper-curated product releases adding to that feeling of consistent newness – and help sustain the brand’s cash flow. Products are tested with very limited quantities and Drevet uses waiting lists to gauge interest and demand. (The brand’s signature oversized blazer and other hero items have consistently sold out on the website.)

“The waiting list is my baby,” says Drevet. “I don’t want to have an inventory problem and that’s why I don’t have it.”

To meet demand and fulfill orders quickly, The Frankie Shop launched a European website in 2020. New production centers are in the works in both the US and Europe. About 85 percent of its revenue comes from online sales, but the brand has seen a significant increase in its brick-and-mortar stores in recent months.

Currently, The Frankie Shop operates five permanent stores — four in Paris and one in New York, as well as the 2,500-square-foot New York pop-up on Crosby Street. Due to the pop-up’s popularity, Drevet is considering adding it as a permanent location to offset traffic from the original 8,000-square-foot store on the Lower East Side. A store in London is also planned for next year and the brand looks forward to further expansion in its largest market, the US, in cities such as Los Angeles or Chicago.

The brand has experimented with wholesale in recent years and now counts Net-a-Porter, Matchesfashion, SSense and MyTheresa among the traders. Drevet admits that wholesale is challenging when it comes to margins and pricing, but why the headache is worth the exposure to new customers. Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear at Matchesfashion, said it has been a standout brand this year with consistently high demand.

“It’s just the relevance of the pieces and the time they drop, which sounds really simple, but it’s quite hard to achieve that with a lot of brands,” she said.

Matches Fashion saw a 67 percent increase in women’s pants, jackets and jackets last year as consumers, tired of Y2K garments and athleisure trends, turned back to more formal options. A looming recession and inflation fears have also led to an increase in long-term investments such as blazers and jackets.

“Realistically, we were entering a time when people at all levels of the market are strapped for cash,” said Sara Maggioni, head of women’s apparel at WGSN. “I think people will feel more secure if they put a little more together.”

Styling has also been a critical ingredient in the brand’s resonance, with visuals across various channels – primarily Instagram and the brand’s website – offering customers easy and accessible inspiration to mix and match the pieces in their wardrobe. Return customers and purchases are common, in part because of the simplicity of the pieces and how they fit.

“[Drevet] is an incredible stylist and it’s just a magic formula,” said Wiggins. “It’s kind of an age-old thing. Once you find those pants that really work for you and your body shape, you buy them in every iteration.”

What’s next

The Frankie Shop owes much of its success to organic chatter on Instagram. But going forward, Drevet wants to diversify the brand’s social media presence beyond the polished feed posts. She hired a chief marketing officer a few months ago and expanded into TikTok, focusing on more casual posts. The brand is also evolving its influencer strategy, aiming to create more paid partnerships and collaborations.

With an eye to the future, the brand must also think about its range. Much of the current lineup – fitted garments, oversized shirts – is very current, and it is questionable whether or not the brand is overly dependent on current trends.

But it’s more that current trends are starting to align with The Frankie Shop. The brand’s original pieces from the very first collections still match the current styles it releases every week.

“[It’s] something that feels very fashion relevant without seeming too niche or trend specific,” said Wiggins.

Whether that balance can be maintained while scaling up to meet demand remains to be seen. Drevet is cautious about long-term explosive growth and is not particularly interested in attracting investors or raising funding. The label’s meteoric rise in recent years has come as a welcome surprise to her, but she’s not looking for world domination or a strategy of growth at any cost. Instead, she wants to maintain demand and make sure consumers can get the right products.

“[I’m] try to structure the company in such a way that it remains a niche brand with relevant exposure,” says Drevet. “It’s still a small company with big dreams.”

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