Frasers has announced it plans to open another six Flannels stores next year, at a time when some of the UK’s more traditional department stores are closing shops.
While it might seem like a move against the run of play, it is betting on its established customer base – well-paid young people, typically living at home, who have that rare commodity in a cost of living crisis: spending money. It is precisely this demographic who have been credited with driving luxury into 2023.
Flannels has clearly studied the tastes and concerns of this generation. The store and website stock brands that are popular with the celebrities gen Z admire, and often seen on social media. For women, these include Mugler, a brand worn by Megan Thee Stallion and Dua Lipa, and Bottega Veneta, favoured by Hailey Bieber. Men, meanwhile, can buy established streetwear brands including Off Whiteand Stone Island, which is enjoying a revival thanks to celebrities such as Drake.
Now part of Mike Ashley’s retail empire, Frasers Group, the first store was opened by founder, Neil Prosser, in Knutsford, Cheshire, in 1976. This was followed by shops in Nottingham, Birmingham and Newcastle. The Liverpool store was reopened this summer as a seven-floor one-stop-shop for those concerned with looking their best at all times – with Botox offered alongside classes from Barry’s Bootcamp.
And while London’s Oxford Street now boasts a big shiny Flannels store – complete with art installations on the outside – the north still dominates its list of 60-plus locations.
Their adverts on public transport are titled “Welcome to the new luxury”. They feature a diverse selection of models and trends that you’re likely to see on TikTok, including visible thongs, beige and cropped vests. A Prada bag with its name written on the front is prominent. The price of men’s trainers online ranges from £28 in the sale for a pair from Novesta to £1,350 for a pair of Alexander McQueen Court Crystal Sneakers.
Flannels customer tastes tend towards glamour and signposting luxury. Bestselling brands include Saint Laurent, Gucci, Vivienne Westwood, Burberry and Balenciaga (despite the recent scandal). The items included in the bestsellers section of the website focus on logos and brands – for women, there’s a Saint Laurent bag with the famous YSL logo, for example, or a Burberry dress in the signature chequer. For men, logo T-shirts from McQ and the streetwear brand Palm Angels are popular.
With brands like these, and the blueprint of a destination store like Liverpool, Flannels’ success proves that bricks and mortar still works – even to a generation who live their lives online.