June 18, 2024

When stylist and creative consultant Caitlin Burke was in her 20s, she stumbled upon the Lower East Side store The Frankie Shop while dating someone who lived in the area. It was filled with minimalist, oversize suits and button-up shirts she assumed she couldn’t afford, but when she looked at the price tags, she found herself pleasantly surprised. “I remember seeing a trench coat for like, $200 or something, and I was so impressed,” says Burke, now in her 30s. The relationship endured — and so did her love of Frankie Shop. “When I first started shopping there, I used to joke that I never left without buying something.”

Turns out, she’s not alone. Over the last decade, the small concept store, founded in 2014 by Gaëlle Drevet, has grown into a booming online business and recognizable brand name, with numerous viral best sellers, celebrity fans including Gigi Hadid and Hailey Bieber, and wholesale partners like Net-a-Porter and Moda Operandi, which carry the brand alongside “quiet luxury” relatives The Row and Jil Sander.

“It was just a small store in the Lower East Side, and I can safely say that we grew super organically,” says Drevet, a Frenchwoman and former journalist who first moved to New York in the late ’90s and interned at the Village Voice. “We didn’t even have a website in the beginning.” Instead, the brand relied on word of mouth and, of course, Instagram, where it now has more than 1 million followers, many of whom love to share how they style their minimalist #FrankieGirl looks, often without being paid to do so. The Frankie Shop has four locations worldwide, including two in Paris, where it recently launched a menswear and unisex shop. This summer, Drevet decided to make its 2,500-square-foot Soho pop-up permanent after sales tripled. There will be more stores, including one in London in the near future, and perhaps Milan and Los Angeles down the line, but “not too many,” says Drevet.

But before there was The Frankie Shop at 100 Stanton Street, there was Pixie Market, a concept shop Drevet co-founded with Magda Pietrobelli in 2006. When Frankie took over the space roughly eight years later, it was marketed as “the Pixie Market girl’s older sister,” or the less girly and twee, more androgynous and cool upgrade. “Frankie doesn’t wear a cocktail dress to a party; she wears a tux black jumpsuit or a mock-neck chunky sweater with a black sequin pencil skirt,” the release said at the time. This was around Jenna Lyons’ peak at J.Crew and Phoebe Philo’s reign at Céline, and the desired look was modern basics with an elevated twist. Frankie found its niche somewhere in the middle, both in terms of price point and aesthetic.

“[The brand] followed my own journey as a person who always loved fashion, and was looking for a certain look that I couldn’t find, which was really mature, minimal, and contemporary, without being contrived or too dolled up,” Drevet says. Her muses were Diane Keaton, Kim Basinger in 9 ½ Weeks, and the late Jane Birkin — specifically Jane Birkin in her 40s wearing pajama tops and beat-up sneakers, carrying her Hermes bag.

Oversize blazers were one of The Frankie Shop’s first hits, and they remain a bestseller today. “I probably own like 15 oversize blazers, and theirs is the best, and the one I style the most often,” says Burke, who has the brand’s Gelso blazer, ($399) in tan, gray, and black. She credits its fit — “oversize without feeling like it’s too big on you” — as being just out-there enough to make it stylish, but not so out-there that it looks ridiculous.

“It was always about finding a little edge in clothes that are everyday,” Drevet says. Other hits, including The Frankie Shop’s sleeveless Eva muscle T-shirt, ($75), which has built-in shoulder pads, and its oversize quilted Teddy jacket, ($285), also play with volume in ways that make the brand’s pieces feel modern — and more unique than what you might find at High Street stores like Zara. The Eva top, named after influencer Evangelie Smyrniotaki who helped inspire the idea, has consistently sold out since it launched in 2019, landing on The Lyst Index’s “hottest products” list in Q2 of 2020. The Teddy coat was one of the “hottest products” in Q4 of 2021. “It was very much what people wanted to wear when we were still doing mental health walks,” says Diana Tsui, a Brooklyn-based writer and stylist.

“It was always about finding a little edge in clothes that are everyday,” Drevet says.

“It doesn’t look like something else — it became its own recognizable thing,” says Burke of the brand’s aesthetic. In other words, rather than following trends, it starts them. In January, The Wall Street Journal asked: “Why Is Everyone Drowning in Their Oversize Blazers?” (The answer: The Frankie Shop.) And yet, it’s still considered somewhat in-the-know among the style set. “A lot of people outside of fashion, who may not know about Net-a-Porter, don’t really know about Frankie Shop, either,” says Cortne Bonilla, a fashion writer who often recommends the brand’s trousers and button-ups to her readers and followers. “They’re always shocked and super excited when they discover that [the shirts] are $150.”

You’re unlikely to find yourself at a wedding with five other people in the same Frankie Shop blazer. But even if you did, it wouldn’t be a big deal, because each person would style it differently. The Frankie Shop’s pieces are designed to fit in seamlessly with those by other brands — something the store encourages by carrying names like J.W. Anderson, as well as emerging designers from Australia, Copenhagen, and Korea, in addition to its own line. “I always recommend [the brand] as a wardrobe basic that should be mixed in with stuff you already own,” says Tsui, who has included pieces by The Frankie Shop in her shopping newsletter, A Concept Store. “The price point makes it really approachable and easy for people to not overthink a purchase.” Her only issue is that the brand’s sizing is “rather limited” and sells out quickly.

The low stock is by design. “I make people wait a little bit to really gauge, do you really want this again?” says Drevet. “And if the waitlist grows, OK, then I’ll bring it back.” Unlike other brands at this price point, like & Other Stories and COS, The Frankie Shop will bring back its most popular styles season after season, rather than discontinuing them, adding new colors and fabrics to keep them fresh and customers wanting more (while keeping their other ones in their closet for years). “We’re not trying to predict what’s on the runway,” Drevet says. “It’s more sensitive to understanding what could really modernize your look today, right now.”


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