Frances Valentine

Frances Valentine Continues Expansion with New Stores That Build Consumer Relationships

The high-end, inclusive women’s fashion brand is growing its physical locations while creating a seamless omnichannel experience.
Elizabeth Christenson
Editor, Retail Leader
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Pro Tip: Meeting your consumer where they are is not just nice to have, but is now a need to have in the retail industry. Seamless shopping allows the customer to be in the driver's seat, and it allows retailers and brands to create a 360-degree ecosystem for consumers.

Last year, digitally native brand Frances Valentine expanded to six brick-and-mortar stores after the opening of new locations in Atlanta and Birmingham, Alabama. This year, the high-end, inclusive women’s fashion retailer plans to open two more locations.

“We are an omnichannel company,” Elyce Arons, Frances Valentine’s co-founder and CEO, told Retail Leader Pro. “Our customers tell us where and how they want to shop for Frances Valentine. Actually, most of our customers shop across all channels from our specialty store partners and department stores to our own e-commerce and retail shops.” 

Frances Valentine debuted in 2016 following a successful foray into fashion by co-founders (and best friends) Arons and designer Kate Spade. As an omnichannel retailer, Frances Valentine aims to make the customer experience seamless, and offers services like curbside pickup at its retail locations.

Frances Valentine in Atlanta
Frances Valentine in Atlanta

“We make returns easier at any point of sale and use our loyalty and rewards across e-commerce and retail stores alike, so it feels like the same experience,” Arons said.

The retailer uses technologies in store for easy returns, its loyalty program and its Shopify platform.  

“By having our store staff utilize these tools, it creates opportunities for person-to-person conversations, real life try-on and more,” Arons said. “At its core, our in-store shopping experience is centered around the relationship between the sales associate and the customer – giving them a more authentic understanding of what Frances Valentine represents.”

As building consumer loyalty is top-of-mind for retailers this year,  Frances Valentine offers a loyalty program that is easy for consumers to join and encompasses benefits such as: early access to new arrivals and sales; free shipping on all orders; exclusive member-only sales; access to special in-store events; personal styling sessions and point-multiplier events. 

Welcoming by Design

Unveiled in October 2022, Frances Valentine’s approximately 933-square-foot Atlanta store is located in the area’s Buckhead Village, an intimate, walkable, high-end outdoor shopping area showcasing other luxury stores and a number of restaurants within walking distance. The Atlanta location’s in-store design aims to make consumers feel as though they are “being invited into someone’s living room,” Arons said. The bright store offers a sofa and tables with minimal other decor to keep consumers focused on the merchandise.

Frances Valentine in Atlanta
Frances Valentine in Atlanta

Frances Valentine’s Birmingham store opened in November 2022 in Birmingham’s Summit shopping area, which showcases several high-end stores and draws consumers locally as well as from surrounding areas and the nearby states of Mississippi and Tennessee. With each Frances Valentine store design unique, the retailer’s Birmingham location is small, at 550 square feet, but it features high ceilings to create a spacious feeling and allow for the display of the retailer’s signature art wall. Frances Valentine used mid-century furniture and colorful vintage rugs along with personal art throughout the store. 

As a brand, Frances Valentine aims to be sustainability conscious, especially as the retailer continues to open up more brick-and-mortar storefronts nationwide. 

“When moving into a new location, we use existing materials already available in the space whenever we can and build from there to create a beautiful environment for our local customers,” Arons said. “Fortunately, the Atlanta store was almost in perfect condition and needed very little construction work — we really just needed to patch and paint. Our furnishings have really been the focal point that finished the space off, giving it a classic Frances Valentine look with mid-century modern style tables, a sofa and beautiful art.”

Frances Valentine in Atlanta
Frances Valentine in Atlanta

Originally when Frances Valentine launched, the retailer only sold shoes and handbags. In 2019, the retailer began merchandising apparel pieces, and since then it has evolved into a whole lifestyle collection. With Frances Valentine’s vast collections of inclusive-sized, high-end women’s fashions now, determining what merchandise to display in-store (and how to display it) has changed. For example, as product categories evolved, the retailer moved from mostly shelves in stores to a combination of hanging racks and shelves. As the Atlanta location offers more hanging space for apparel than any other of its locations, Frances Valentine’s focus in Atlanta will be on showcasing its apparel items. 

On the other hand, Frances Valentine’s Birmingham store is almost half the size of the Atlanta store. “With 550 square feet to work with, it is challenging to be able to showcase the collection while also keeping the spacious feel, but we added hanging wall racks and were able to utilize the cabinetry of the previous tenant for our shoes and handbags,” Arons said.

Two new stores are set to open later this year, and Frances Valentine will disclose the locations as it moves closer to opening date. In turn, the retailer aims to continue to reach more consumers nationwide.