Frasers has announced plans to open a further six Flannels stores next year, at a time when some of the UK’s most traditional department stores are closing stores.
While it may seem like a move against the game, it’s banking on its established customer base: well-paid, typically stay-at-home young people who have that rare commodity in a cost-of-living crisis: spending money. It was precisely this demographic group that attributed luxury in 2023.
Flannels clearly studied the tastes and concerns of this generation. The store and website stock brands that are popular with celebrities that Gen Z admires and are often seen on social media. For women, these include Mugler, a brand worn by Megan Thee Stallion and Dua Lipa, and Bottega Veneta, favored by Hailey Bieber. Men, meanwhile, can shop established streetwear brands like Off White and Stone Island, which is enjoying a renaissance thanks to celebrities like 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. Stores in Nottingham, Birmingham and Newcastle followed. The Liverpool store reopened this summer as a seven-floor one-stop shop for those concerned with looking their best at all times, with Botox offered alongside Barry’s Bootcamp classes.
And while London’s Oxford Street now boasts a large, bright flannel shop, with art installations outside, the north still dominates its list of more than 60 venues.
Their ads on public transport are titled “Welcome to the new luxury”. They feature a diverse selection of styles and trends you’re likely to see on TikTok, including see-through thongs, beige vests, and crop tops. A Prada bag with her name written on the front stands out. Men’s sneakers online range in price from £28 on sale for a pair from Novesta to £1,350 for a pair of Alexander McQueen Court Crystal trainers.
Customers’ tastes in flannels tend towards glamor and signaling luxury. Top-selling brands include Saint Laurent, Gucci, Vivienne Westwood, Burberry and Balenciaga (despite the recent scandal). Articles included in the best sellers 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 with the signature plaid. For men, McQ logo t-shirts and streetwear brand Palm Angels are popular.
With brands like these, and the model of a destination store like Liverpool, Flannels’ success proves that bricks and mortar still works, even for a generation that lives its life online.