Freemans Sporting Club is headed east � Far East.
The trendy New York City-based retailer will open a flagship in Tokyo next month and two additional stores in Japan over the next two years. Freemans, a favorite of hipsters since opening on the Lower East Side seven years ago, currently operates two stores in New York and one in San Francisco and also has a wholesale collection. In addition to its men�s wear line, Freemans operates a barber shop, restaurant and bespoke suit department at its Rivington Street store, a concept that it will be bringing to Japan.
The Tokyo store is being billed as the first Freemans Lifestyle Compound outside the U.S., and the 6,500-square-foot space will be located in the Minami-Aoyama retail district. Thom Browne opened a store in that area last week.
The Freemans store was designed by company founder and architect Taavo Somer and is intended to be reminiscent of a New York City brownstone. It is opening in partnership with Yagi Tsusho Ltd., which licenses and distributes the FSC brand in Japan along with other American and European labels including Moncler, Mackintosh, Barbour and Woolrich. Urban Research is a sublicensee and the retail partner. Under the terms of the deal, Urban Research will also open a yet-to-be-determined number of FSC in-store shops at its 104 stores in Asia.
�We�ve always had a relationship with the Japanese since we opened the store seven years ago,� said Somer.
�And we have a pretty passionate following of Japanese here,� added Kent Kilroe, Freemans managing director.
Somer said Freemans had been approached by several Japanese companies who sought to bring the brand to that country, �but we said it had to be whole package � the restaurant, bar, barber shop and store,� Somer said. �And these guys said they wanted to bring our vision to Japan.� Kilroe noted: �They appreciate how each element has to work together. That�s what separates us from the myriad of men�s wear brands out there.�