Until recently, Fred Segal has had only five stores, mostly in Southern California, in its lineup of cool outposts filled with trendy merchandise.
But that will change with two stores opening soon and more on the way as the company reprises expansion plans in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic.
First up is a store in Marin County near San Francisco followed by a new store on a premier shopping avenue in Santa Monica, California. In addition, the company is looking to expand in other U.S. cities and Asia.
In the next few weeks, Fred Segal will open a 2,100-square-foot location at the Marin Country Mart in Larkspur, California, a well-to-do suburb across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. It is the retailer’s first foray into Northern California.
The Marin store’s development came about through a bit of retail networking by Jeff Lotman, who bought the Fred Segal brand in 2019.
Lotman knows Jim Rosenfield, the owner of the 75-year-old Brentwood Country Mart, a quaint collection in Los Angeles of red barn-like sheds around a central courtyard. That friendship set the stage for Northern California because Rosenfield also owns the Marin Country Mart as well as the Montecito Country Mart near Santa Barbara, California.
“We had been talking back and forth about doing something together, and there was an opportunity that came up. I had been up there before to Marin, and I know it is a really great spot,” Lotman said. “With everything happening in San Francisco now, this location actually works to our benefit because there aren’t that many great places to shop in downtown San Francisco anymore. Being over the bridge is going to work well for us and that demographic has a lot of money.”
The Marin Country Mart, an open-air shopping village established in 1975, has several well-known tenants, including James Perse, Jenni Kayne, Birkenstock and The RealReal.
The Fred Segal store is slated to open around Sept. 15, depending on construction, and will contain several California brands, non-California brands and the curated vintage collection Found by Fred Segal. The store’s California labels will include Staud, Simon Miller, Slvrlake Denim, Les Tien and Monfrère. Other brands will include By Malene Birger, Sir., St. Agni, Applied Art Forms, Corridor, MM6 and r13.
Next up is an outpost at 1533 Montana Avenue, a prime shopping street in Santa Monica. The 2,600-square-foot store is scheduled to open sometime in October. Again, it was a matter of good retail networking to find the right location. “I literally got a call on a Saturday that Burro, a gift store, was moving out. On Monday, we had a deal with the landlord,” Lotman said. “We had been looking for a long time for a spot, and this came about. I immediately knew the spot, and the landlord was super excited to have us.”
More locations are in the works. Recently, Fred Segal closed a New York City pop-up store, launched last November at 252 Lafayette Street in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. The retailer is now considering a larger permanent location. “We got a great response as expected because New York is our second-best area for e-commerce sales. Los Angeles is number one and Miami is third.”
With Miami a popular e-commerce spot for the brand, Lotman said he is also considering that city for a new footprint.
On the international front, Fred Segal has had a store in Seoul for two years. It was done in partnership with Hanwha Group and is located at the Galleria Luxury Hall. More stores in Asia could be on the way. “We’re investigating and really want to get into Japan. It was something that before the pandemic we had a deal that was set up,” Lotman said. “We’re hoping something there develops quickly. That’s sort of my next target. And then after Japan would be China. I would go to Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. Again, pre-pandemic we were very close to starting with a partner in China. I am hoping that will come back again.”
While retail is expanding quickly, Lotman said e-commerce and private label is still his primary focus. “E-commerce has done incredibly well, and we are trying to build our private label,” he noted.
On the e-commerce front, Fred Segal recently partnered with live shopping social network Covet by Christos to sell pieces from Found by Fred Segal, the retailer’s curated collection of vintage designer clothing, handbags and watches, as well as gifts, limited-edition books and other items.
Fred Segal’s first live streaming event was on Aug. 26 and lasted two-and-a-half hours. “We took in just a hair under six figures,” Lotman said. “We sold like literally 20 vintage bags and some gifts. We sold a ton of candles and a ton of T-shirts. It was very successful, and we are going to do a lot more.”
The idea is to do two shows a month.
The Fred Segal brand has gone through several iterations since it was founded in Los Angeles in 1961 by renowned retailer Fred Segal, who passed away at the age of 87 in 2021. He was a man before his time who wanted to make more expensive blue jeans that would sell for $19.95 instead of $3.
He started out with a 350-square-foot store on Santa Monica Boulevard before he moved to Melrose Avenue where he pioneered the then-novel shop-in-shop concept and experiential retail that introduced up-and-coming labels synonymous with SoCal style (think Juicy Couture, Hard Candy Cosmetics and Earl Jeans). He later opened another location in Santa Monica with the same shop-in-shop format.
In 2012, Sandow Media acquired the worldwide rights to the brand and began taking things in a more tourist-oriented direction. It opened a Fred Segal store at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. Then it opened a location on the Las Vegas strip. Later, both those stores closed. Two years ago, Lotman opened a Las Vegas location at The District at Resorts World.
In 2014, Creative Arts Agency-backed Evolution Media Capital acquired a majority stake in the brand and opened a 13,000-square-foot store at 8500 Sunset Boulevard, which is still the company’s flagship in Los Angeles.
Jeff Lotman came into the picture in 2019 when he acquired the Fred Segal brand and has been slowly expanding ever since, including launching buzzy collaborations with pop-ups. Next up, on Sept. 7 will be Canada Goose x Rokh x Matt McCormick.