Free People is a retail clothing store which is part of the Urban Outfitters family of companies.
In the early 1970s, Dick Hayne opened a store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with his first wife, Judy Wicks, and named it Free People. His store attracted the young people who lived and shopped in the area. When his store’s popularity grew, he opened a second store and he changed its name from Free People to Urban Outfitters.
Urban Outfitters’ business began to grow rapidly. Dick’s wife, Meg, oversaw the development of Urban Outfitters’ private label division, which supported product exclusive to Urban Outfitters. This proved to be quite successful, so in 1984 they decided to create a wholesale line, which they ultimately named “Free People.” The brand was sold in department stores and small boutiques across the country.
In 2001, Meg and her team determined that it was time for Free People to shed its junior image and to evolve into a more contemporary brand that would cater to women in their 20s who wanted to find fashion forward, uniquely styled clothing. Today, with three wholesale showrooms in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, Free People is selling in over 1000 specialty stores worldwide. Additionally, Free People product can be found at many different online retailers.
In the fall of 2002, the first Free People Boutique opened in Paramus, New Jersey. The boutique was decorated with brightly quilted chairs, intricate seasonal displays, and handmade fixtures. Their goal was to create an environment that would inspire their customers with both unique product and a serene atmosphere. Currently, Free People has over 81 Boutiques in the US and 2 in Canada.
In October 2004, Free People launched its website. The site has grown to host a multitude of products, including items from outside vendors like Jeffrey Campbell Shoes to accessorize Free People's apparel. In July 2009, they began shipping internationally and currently their website ships to 132 countries worldwide. In November 2012 Free People launched their first international website, targeting customers in the United Kingdom.
In early 2010, Free People identified five different customer types: "Meadow" the bohemian customer, "Candy" the girly customer, "Ginger" the body-con customer, "Lou" the tomboy customer, and "Sandy" the beach customer.
In 2013, Free People produced its first short film. Titled "Roshambo", the film follows actor Christopher Abbott and model Sheila Marquez in a chance meeting on the streets of Brooklyn. The film is slated to be the first in a series of brand-oriented short videos produced by the company.
Additional lines have been developed within the Free People brand, including “Intimately FP," "FP Beach," “We The Free," and "New Romantics." "Intimately FP" contains a variety of bandeaus, bralettes, slips, and undergarments. FP Beach is a more casual concept with emphasis on basic shapes with a twist. We The Free was launched to target Free People’s tomboy customer.