Free People Unleashes Footwear

Free People will unveil its in-house footwear line to the wholesale market this week.

The Philadelphia-based label — which already offers a selection of shoes from outside brands, plus Free People apparel at its own boutiques, e-commerce site and at wholesale — aims to catch the eye of retailers such as Nordstrom and Shopbop.com with the 20-style footwear collection.

Click here for a sneak peek at the line >>

“Shoes have been a top category of growth for our direct business over the past two years,” said Krissy Meehan, managing director of wholesale at Free People. “We like to grow our brand organically … and the customer has been asking for [Free People-branded] footwear.”

She added that buyers will be able to preview Free People footwear at the firm’s New York showroom during FFANY this week. After that, the collection will make its official trade show debut at FN Platform in Las Vegas from Feb. 18-20. Sole Commerce and Micam are also on the agenda.

Retailing for $168 to $428, the leather booties, boots, mules, flats and heels in neutral colors reflect the rustic-meets-boho vibe of Free People’s clothing line. “The Free People girl has an earthy aesthetic and she likes fun pops of color,” Meehan noted. “We are answering her needs by offering distressed leathers, printed suede and interesting blanket stitching.”

In addition to wholesale, Free People will offer the in-house label in its own 90 boutiques across the country, as well as on its e-commerce site. The label already has started testing styles via e-commerce, and Meehan said the response has been positive. And although Free People carries an array of other contemporary shoe labels, including Jeffrey Campbell, Freebird by Steven and Freda Salvador, she said Free People shoes will fill a category that has been missing from the mix. “We find that the Free people girl is looking to dress head-to-toe in the [brand].”

The shoe line comes a year after Free People launched its own hosiery label, which was picked up by Nordstrom and Shopbop.com.

“This is the right time [to bow footwear],” Meehan said. “We think it will have a lot of potential and impact on the overall brand.”