Over a decade in the fashion game and FLANNEL is showing no signs of slowing down, with the opening of a second US store in the Big Apple.
Exuding a sophisticated yet relaxed luxe bohemian style, FLANNEL has been creating a consistent lifestyle collection since 2006, with silk slips, cami’s and v-neck knits remaining the coveted signature pieces.First established in Perth, the brand now runs nine womenswear stores and two menswear stores across Australia.
It appears the quality in fabric and design is not lost on style hunters in the US either, where FLANNEL has held an LA store for five years and recently opened in New York. But that’s not all; collections are stocked in more than 70 stores across the US alongside other high profile, luxury brands. Not bad for a girl who grew up on the beaches of Western Australia!
Founder and designer Kristy Lawrence takes us inside the phenomenal brand.
Tell us a bit about your expansion in the US. How has it been received?
We have had our very successful Los Angeles store for 5 years now and New York for a couple of months. Both have been a great success, although New York was probably the hardest store for me to open. Logistically it was a challenge but an incredibly rewarding one. Our wholesale continues to grow and we are represented in superb stores around the US.
Your label is loved by locals in Australia. Did you always feel that it would be an international success?
I have always thought of a FLANNEL girl as a certain kind of person that is adventurous, well-travelled and a free spirit, hence they are worldwide so it never occurred to me it wouldn’t work. It’s very much a universal brand. I find as long as we’re based in the right areas that relate to FLANNEL, which is usually a lifestyle location, it will continue to be a success.
Do you find that pieces popular with Australian women reflect those in the US?
In the beginning, I was told it would be very different but I’ve found this isn’t the case with us. What sells well here in Australia, sells well in the US.
How does it feel having some of Hollywood’s brightest stars such as Jennifer Lawrence wearing your clothes? P.S. No relation, is it?!
No relation (laughs). I woke up one morning in Melbourne and my husband showed me the cover of the magazine Jennifer was on. He asked me, “Is this all FLANNEL?” And I said “Yes, don’t you remember the girls in the store told us she came and bought those pieces?” What I love about the Hollywood stars wearing the brand is they wear it because they choose to. We don’t gift so all our press is from them shopping in our Venice, California store. It’s really exciting to know they like the product and I’m very conscious not to breach their privacy. Even though I would love the girls to snap a picture and tell the world, it’s just not what we’re about.
Any plans to expand elsewhere? Europe?
Our agent in the US is actually European and eventually she would like to expand to the European market. We would love to open a store maybe in London, but it’s all about finding the right people. Our girls in America worked in Australia first so it’s really important for us to have trustworthy, knowledgeable FLANNEL staff who have that love for the brand.
What’s next for FLANNEL?
After recently opening in New York we returned to open our 13th store in Gould Street, Bondi. I feel like I’m complete now with our stores and their locations. We’re represented in all the places we need to be. Next year I want to consolidate and go back to our first stores and make them as beautiful as our most recent ones. I want to really fine tune everything, making sure that the designs and the brand stay true to itself. I watch so many businesses grow but lose their handwriting because they’re too busy on the growth itself to look at the finer details. I want to cover everything and make sure it’s really strong as a brand and as a business.
So how do you manage to run a successful brand in such a tough market?
I am always asked how I do this. Its simple – I’m surrounded by amazing people. Everyone from head office and in-store to deliveries, they do everything as if it was their own. I think our staff are incredible. They all play such an important role. My partners in this – my sister Brooke, husband John and sister-in-law Anna – are all key to the success of FLANNEL and contribute their own areas of expertise to the business. We’re actually all hopeless at each other’s roles, so it works. We’re a very close family too so I think this stems and flows into the people that work with us. Everyone is so incredibly supportive.