What’s next for The Frankie Shop

On Crosby Street in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood, shoppers line up long to buy pleated corduroys and cortados at iconic menswear brand Aimé Leon Dore. But recently, a queue of the same size has formed outside the store next door as shoppers gather to stock up on monochrome basics and oversized blazers at the newest womenswear store, The Frankie Shop.

Founded in New York’s Lower East Side by former journalist Gael Drewett in 2014, The Frankie Shop has quietly built a small empire of utilitarian women’s clothing. The brand’s staples, which include quilted jackets, monochrome tracksuits, oversized blazers, t-shirts and cargo pants, can often be seen on Instagram influencers alongside the hashtag ‘Frankie Girl’. Even more impressive is that while the brand is an influencer favorite with a massive social media presence – millions of followers on Instagram alone – Drevet rarely does paid partnerships or collaborations.

It may be partly because of her understanding that influencers will want to wear a season or two down from the runways and social media trends.

“I’m on the phone a lot, I’m checking people out, and I’m also under the influence,” she said. For example, the Eva brand’s best-selling t-shirt is named after influencer Eva Smirniotaki after a discussion between them about the perfect shirt.

Over the past year, to keep up with demand, the brand has grown its team and physical presence with a number of new wholesale partnerships, including Matchesfashion and Ssense. It also launched a home section last year alongside menswear, and with the rise of gender-fluid clothing, Drevet notes that most consumers are shopping across categories. In 2022, the private label generated $40 million in net sales, a 100 percent year-over-year increase.

“Our big challenge now is to build on that success,” Drewett said.

Wins on the waiting list

Frankie Shop releases new products every week, but most are not brand new, but reruns of past styles. The silhouettes and overall spirit of the brand remain the same, but with seasonal adjustments in materials and colors to keep it feeling fresh every week.

Releases its hyper-curated product add to this a sense of consistent novelty — and helps keep the brand cash flowing. Products are tested in extremely limited quantities and Drevet uses waiting lists to gauge interest and demand. (The brand’s signature oversized blazer and other hero items are constantly selling out on the website.)

“The waiting list is my baby,” Drewett says. “I don’t want to have an inventory problem, and I don’t have any because of this.”

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

The Frankie Shop currently has five permanent stores – four in Paris and one in New York – as well as a 2,500 square foot New York pop-up store on Crosby Street. The pop-up’s popularity has Drevet considering adding it as a permanent location to offset traffic from the original 800-square-foot store on the Lower East Side. A store in London is also planned for next year, and the brand hopes to expand further in its largest market, the US, in cities such as Los Angeles or Chicago.

In recent years, the brand has experimented with wholesale, and now includes Net-a-Porter, Matchesfashion, SSense and MyTheresa among its stockists. Drevet admits that wholesaling is a challenge when it comes to margins and pricing, but reasons that the headache is worth getting to know new customers. Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear at Matchesfashion, said it had been a great brand this year with consistently high demand.

“It’s just the relevance of the parts and the time they lose, which sounds very simple, but it’s quite difficult to achieve with a lot of brands,” she said.

Matches Fashion has increased its stock of women’s trouser jackets by 67 percent over the past year as consumers weary of Y2K pieces and athleisure trends once again gravitate toward more formal options. The looming recession and concerns about inflation have also led to a rise in long-term investments such as jackets and coats.

“Realistically, we were going at a time when people were strapped for cash at every level of the market,” said Sarah Maggioni, head of womenswear for WGSN. “I think people will feel more secure by collecting something bigger.”

Styling is also a critical component in the brand’s resonance, with visuals across multiple channels – most notably Instagram and the brand’s website – giving customers easy and accessible inspiration to mix and match in their wardrobe. Repeat customers and purchases are frequent, in part because of the simplicity of the pieces and the way they fit.

“[Drevet] — is an incredible stylist, and it’s just a magical formula,” Wiggins said. “It’s kind of the old thing: Once you find a pair of pants that really fit you and your body shape, you buy them in every iteration.”

What’s next

Frankie Shop owes much of its success to organic Instagram chatter. But moving forward, Drevet wants to diversify the brand’s social media presence beyond slick feed posts. A few months ago, it hired a chief marketing officer and expanded its work at TikTok, focusing on more casual messaging. The brand is also developing its influencer strategy to create more profitable partnerships and collaborations.

Looking to the future, the brand must also think through its assortment. Much of his current line – tailored suits, oversized shirts – is very current, and one wonders if the brand is too dependent on current trends.

But it’s more that modern trends have begun to coincide with The Frankie Shop. The brand’s original pieces from the very first collections are still in line with the contemporary styles it releases every week.

“[It’s] something that feels very fashion-relevant but doesn’t feel too niche or trend-specific,” said Wiggins.

Whether this balance can be maintained while scaling to meet demand remains to be seen. Drevet is wary of any long-term explosive growth and isn’t particularly interested in attracting investors or raising funding. The label’s rapid growth over the past few years has been a pleasant surprise for her, but she’s not aiming for world domination, and she’s not trying to use a growth-at-any-cost strategy. Instead, it wants to support demand and make sure consumers can get the products they need.

“[I’m] trying to structure the company to remain a niche brand with relevant exposure,” Drewett said. “It’s still a small business with big dreams.”

https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/retail/the-frankie-shop-gaelle-drevet-profile/ What’s next for The Frankie Shop

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