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Brand Stores, Wholesale and E-comm Can Coexist, Says Frame Co-Founder Jens Grede

Fall 2020 is an expansion season for Frame as it plants roots in tony New York City neighborhoods.

In October, the Californian lifestyle brand opened a popup shop in the Upper East Side and marked the occasion with a New York-inspired photo exhibition by Frame co-founder Erik Torstensson. The popup was followed by the opening of Frame’s third New York store—and fourteenth over all—in the Meatpacking District.

The retail expansion is part of Frame’s overall ambition to become a one-stop-shop for luxury ready-to-wear, denim and most recently accessories. The brand unveiled its first-ever women’s footwear collection in June that features details like elevated hardware and subtle nods to the ’70s—elevated elements that complement Frame’s line of leather handbags.

Additionally, Frame just stepped into the jewelry category through a partnership with ethical jewelry brand Mejuri.

“We’ve been expanding our retail footprint in recent years, placing Frame stores in the most desirable neighborhoods in the country, and Meatpacking is a key part of this strategy,” Jens Grede, Frame co-founder and creative director, told Rivet.

The 3,324-square-foot Meatpacking store on Gansevoort Row places Frame alongside high-end neighbors that draw a scene, like trendy restaurant Pastis and Hermès’ millennial-centric store. Designed to embody Frame’s “California-chic aesthetic,” the store features custom furniture designed by Atelier de Troupe, natural fir plywood tables and brass fixtures. The store also includes a handcrafted gridded denim wall that displays Frame’s signature and bestselling styles, while a subtle play on color and textures serves as a backdrop for the brand’s growing accessories range.

“Each store offers an incredible opportunity to deliver a true Frame experience, and we’re excited to engage both new and dedicated shoppers with this location,” Grede said.

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But unbeknownst to Frame when it laid out its expansion plans at the start of the year, Fall 2020 would also be a season shaped by a retail sector reeling from shutdowns, economic uncertainty and civil unrest.

Frame’s New York City-centric growth spurt was in the works prior to the pandemic and before there was ever an inclination of how retail would be disrupted in 2020. As construction slowed down earlier this year, Grede said Frame had to press pause for a few months to take the necessary precautions and ensure that the store “could be a destination for our customers for years to come.”

Grede hints at more stores in Frame’s future. In comparison to the new digital and omnichannel initiatives that apparel and denim brands have begun to implement this year to offset their wholesale, opening brick-and-mortar stores may be a low-tech strategy to beat the Covid slump.

That’s not to say that Frame hasn’t augmented its in-store business in the wake of Covid. “Safety for our employees and our customers is our top priority right now,” Grede said. Customers at the Meatpacking location can take advantage of curbside pickup and one-on-one shopping appointments at the store.

But for Frame, making its products accessible across various channels is part of its premium shopping experience. “It is about a balanced distribution mix with each channel adding value to the customer,” Grede said. “E-commerce for convenience, retail is the full brand immersive experience and personal service and wholesale is building a presence across the country making it available for all to discover and shop in a way that suits you individually.”

Rather than cannibalize, Grede said Frame sees wholesale, retail and e-commerce working together. “And where we have the best representation we have the most sales,” he added. “It’s entirely synergetic. Our Q4 wholesale is up year-over-year so we are very happy with that. Our goal is to create a true omnichannel experience.”