Free People Reveals Continued Canadian Expansion Plans

  Toronto Yorkville store. Photo: Free People

Toronto Yorkville store. Photo: Free People

Popular American womenswear brand Free People is continuing a store expansion which will include larger stores as well as locations in new Canadian markets. We spoke with Beth Wehagen, Director of Retail, to get information on what's in store for the brand in this country. 

Free People was established in 1984 and is known for its 'bohemian-chic' fashion. It sells women’s clothing, accessories, footwear, intimates, athletic wear and swimwear. The company is owned by Urban Outfitters Inc., also owner of retailers Anthropologie, BHLDNTerrain and Urban Outfitters, and is headquartered in Philadelphia.

The company's first Canadian store opened in the summer of 2012 in Toronto's Yorkville area and about three weeks later, a second Canadian location opened in Calgary's CF Chinook Centre. In the fall of 2014, two Vancouver locations opened -- one at West Vancouver's Park Royal, the other on Vancouver's tony South Granville shopping strip. 

  Reclaimed wide plank wood floors encompass the main sales floor in the new CF Sherway Gardens store. 

Reclaimed wide plank wood floors encompass the main sales floor in the new CF Sherway Gardens store. 

Ms. Wehagen explained that Free People's newer stores will be larger than previous ones. Canada's first Free People locations measure in the 2,500-3,400 square foot range and moving forward, new stores will typically span in excess of 5,000 square feet. On October 30 of this year, Free People opened its largest Canadian stores, a 5,850 square foot location at CF Sherway Gardens and Ms. Wehagen revealed that next February, the brand will open a 5,400 square foot unit at CF Toronto Eaton Centre.

Ms. Wehagen explained that the company's larger store format allows Free People to profile a broader range of fashions, including footwear and party dresses. The Eaton Centre location will also feature athletic 'FP Movement wear' when it opens, she said. 

Looking forward, Ms. Wehagen said several Canadian markets could see Free People stores. She specifically mentioned Edmonton, Montreal and Ottawa as possible markets, though the brand will carefully evaluate properties and markets before making expansion decisions. Free People locates its stores inside of shopping malls as well as on busy urban streets, providing ample opportunity for further Canadian expansion.

Photos below are of Free People's lovely new CF Sherway Gardens location, provided by Free People. 

 Customers are welcomed through custom steel and glass double entry doors that are flanked by rough sawn cedar white painted cladding.  At CF Sherway Gardens

Customers are welcomed through custom steel and glass double entry doors that are flanked by rough sawn cedar white painted cladding. At CF Sherway Gardens

  ‘Black Smith’s Cottage’ concept: Highlighting the more rugged side of the Free People girl, the space is designed to feel like "her personal workshop by featuring a mix of rugged elements and feminine details throughout."

‘Black Smith’s Cottage’ concept: Highlighting the more rugged side of the Free People girl, the space is designed to feel like "her personal workshop by featuring a mix of rugged elements and feminine details throughout."

  8 fitting rooms feature distinctive wall finishes, including mica plaster, white washed beadboard, and suede wash further lend to the 'workshop theme'.

8 fitting rooms feature distinctive wall finishes, including mica plaster, white washed beadboard, and suede wash further lend to the 'workshop theme'.

   4 point of sale cashwrap with a custom ‘Black Smith Cottage’ backwrap showcasing a built in crate installation of bright yarn filled cubbies.

 4 point of sale cashwrap with a custom ‘Black Smith Cottage’ backwrap showcasing a built in crate installation of bright yarn filled cubbies.

  Party dresses -- a first in Canada for Free People

Party dresses -- a first in Canada for Free People