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Freesoul

A change of ownership has given the Italian brand the confidence to look beyond its denim heritage

The past two years have been full of change for Italian streetwear brand Freesoul. It has been taken over by private investor Balham Holding, moved its home from Florence to Vicenza, and set up a UK subsidiary. As a result, the brand claims to have experienced significant growth and undergone a global repositioning.

So much for the corporate speak. The fact is that while it has always claimed to be anchored to denim, the brand’s look has changed markedly. Where once it used to shout, Freesoul now seems confident enough to whisper its style credentials.

In menswear, it is a story of dark and gently laundered denims, heavy-gauge and soft-touch knits and contemporary-styled shirts in inky blue and cool grey. Womenswear includes skinny jeans, silk blouses with ruffled sleeves, cropped leather jackets, fine-gauge knits and city shorts in a similarly dark palette.

Premium quality fabrics have become a key element and autumn 10 sees the brand continue to up the ante on that score. Womenswear focuses on draped, soft-touch alpaca pieces from £32 to £36 at wholesale while angora/wool mixes are used on smarter jackets for £100. Jeans - for men and women - include a range of premium Japanese and US denim, with treatments including leather-spray and popcorn-effect finishes, and wholesale at £32 to £34.

Menswear also includes checked shirts with bleached finishes and cleaner styles with metal inserts. The metal inserts carry over into jackets, where padded styles wholesale for £100. Burn-out treatments are used on soft leather motorbike styles, which wholesale for £140.

The brand has 50 UK stockists with sales split 50/50 split between menswear and womenswear.

UK and Republic of Ireland country manager Marc Faure aims to quadruple that figure but is realistic about the challenge. “The size of the market is not growing and the only way to take space in stores is to offer a better total proposition than the client’s existing brands,” he says.

How to do this? Faure focuses on increasing brand awareness, “via strong editorial, high-quality advertising and celebrity endorsement with maximum investment from the company”. And he says there are yet more tangible ways in which the brand is looking to service its stockists: “To become a serious player in the denim market, Freesoul will offer a comprehensive never-out-of-stock service on 50% of the seasonal denim grid.”

The brand currently works on two forward-order collections, but from spring 2011 there will be four a year with two preview collections and two main drops.

Essentials

150 Menswear pieces in the range

250 Womenswear pieces in the range

2.5 to 3 Mark-up depending on order size

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