Nestled among Chestnut Hill’s most trendy retailers and restaurants, a new set of glass doors are finally open. Lace and fabric stream from the ceilings, bringing a new, almost mystical feel to the once- humble facade.
Nearly two miles away from Boston College’s Main Campus, Free People recently opened a “large-format” boutique in Chestnut Hill Sq., complete with the company’s only shoe store in the Northeast.
Free People is a store that targets fashion-forward women in their late-20s who are active, fun, creative, interested in music, and “excited about life,” said Nicole Fletcher, the store’s manager. The Bohemian fashion retailer opened its doors on Sept. 25.
“We’re really excited about the customers out here [in Chestnut Hill],” she said. “We feel like this isn’t a market we’ve penetrated too much.”
With the store’s opening, Free People has joined the Chestnut Hill Square community, which includes a group of stores that attract a similar group of high-scale buyers, including Athleta, Anthropologie, Drybar, and Francesca’s. The Free People store maintains an expansive 5,090 square-foot floor, and entices customers with its vast windows, vibrant displays, and large selection of on-trend merchandise.
Katelyn Chandler, a customer at Free People, was walking past the new store and stopped in because she was drawn to the decor. “I was attracted by the displays in the store, and I like the design of the clothing,” she said. Chandler thought she would like the clothes because she knew that it was a sister brand to Anthropologie, located just a few doors down, where she has previously purchased apparel.
According to the company’s press release, the new Free People store was designed to resemble the Free People girl’s workshop, combining the natural details that shoppers are already noticing with rugged feminine elements. As customers enter, they see a steel storefront with double doors designed specifically for this location. They are enveloped by a feel unique to the brand, characterized by varied ceiling heights, glittered plaster, white beadboard columns, reclaimed plank wood floors, and music playing softly from the speakers.
Jessica Abdi of Framingham, Mass. noted a similar attention toward the store’s facade. “I love the decor,” she said. “It’s beautiful. I even love the little flowered hangers. They’re very into detail, it’s beautifully set up and decorated.”
Abdi had been meandering through the shopping center’s other boutiques when she encountered its newest addition. “I love the Free People label and I just noticed that they opened a store here, and was very excited,” she said. Though she had only intended on browsing through the detailed hangers, much of the apparel later caught her eye. “But of course I’m going to buy something,” she said.
Many customers are excited that there is an entire store dedicated to the Free People brand, as opposed to most local retailers only shelving a few Free People products.
“I’ve actually never really been in the store,” Abdi said. “The Free People that I’ve seen before has mostly been in like Macy’s or Marshalls.”
Customers agreed that the store, which features the “FP Collection” shoe and “Intimately Free People” undergarment apparel lines, will encourage more residents of the surrounding area to buy and wear the clothes. Nina Hader of Brookline, Mass. said 80 percent of her clothes come from the brand and is excited that she now has access to a more convenient location.
“Those of us who love Free People go into the city, where you have to pay to park, go out to Dedham, or go online,” Hader said, noting that this is the largest Free People store she has ever seen. “This is very close, it’s easy to pop in and out, and you have free parking.”
Hader, who came to the store to return a pair of shoes she had bought online that didn’t fit, said the clothing matches her style and is “comfortable, pretty, hip, and Bohemian.” Fletcher similarly believes that there are women in the Chestnut Hill area who fit this description, and will be excited to frequent the new storefront.
Abdi agrees that she is more likely to shop at Free People given that they have an independent space. “It’s just that they’re kind of expensive,” she said. “It’s kind of out of my personal price range, so basically if I just find something really unique, that’s what I’ll spend my money on.”
Despite the cost of the merchandise, with products upward of $300, many customers believe that this store is a good fit for the area. “This is a good demographic for a store like this,” Chandler said.
Featured Images by Laura Galligan / For The Heights