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In the 1970s, a young man named Dick Hayne planted a seed in the intricate maze of streets and trees that make up West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He opened a store and named it Free People. Free People nurtured the young individuals who lived and shopped there, seeking a touch of their own freedom in the clothes they adorned.
As Dick's store expanded from one to two, the name underwent a transformation from Free People to Urban Outfitters.
Over time, his wife Meg joined to oversee Urban's private label division, supporting products exclusive to Urban Outfitters. The demand was immediate, prompting Meg and Dick to create a wholesale line. The response was so positive that Dick decided to separate the businesses. For a while, the wholesale line took on various personalities: Bulldog, Ecote, Cooperative, Anthropologie, and in 1984, a new life was breathed into the name Free People. And that's us.
In 2001, they realized that it was truly Free People that invoked some of their favorite images — those of femininity, courage, and spirit. It was time to return to their roots.
Free People shed its junior image and evolved into a more mature, contemporary brand. This shift allowed twenty-something women to connect with a clothing line that catered to their intelligence, creativity, and individuality while maintaining great quality and affordability.
And that's just who they wanted to reach: a 26-year-old woman, smart, creative, confident, comfortable in all aspects of her being, free and adventurous, sweet to tough to tomboy to romantic. A woman who loves to keep busy, push life to its limits, travel, hang out, and everything in between. She loves Donovan as much as she loves The Dears and can't resist petting any dog that passes her by on the street.
Today, they draw, design, sew, and buy for her. They offer countless options within the Free People collection, ensuring that even if she shops with her best pal, they won't come out looking alike. And if she wants her colors and patterns all mixed up, that's even better, picking through their sweaters, knits, and skirts. The design team anticipates offering even greater variety in their intimates and accessories business.
Free People boasts four wholesale showrooms — in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and London. Their sales team is enamored with the Free People customer, constantly searching for accounts that believe in their aesthetic and want them to be part of their lives. Today, the line sells in over 1,400 specialty stores worldwide. Some department stores, such as Nordstrom and Bloomingdales, have established in-store concept shops to enhance the beauty of the clothes, providing their customers with the quintessential Free People experience.
In these boutiques, their aesthetic is immediately apparent. A vibrant and cozy lounging area invites customers to sit back and soak up the lovely surroundings. All Free People fixtures are handmade, down to the crocheted hangers.
The very first boutique opened in Paramus, New Jersey, in the fall of 2002. They now have boutiques throughout the United States, as well as Canada, and the number will continue to grow.
Free People launched a virtual journey through FreePeople.com in October 2004. In 2012, Free People introduced a Free People UK site followed by the Free People France site in 2022. The sites have garnered tremendous success with online shoppers worldwide seeking a little something special in their online experience.