Faherty Shines Spotlight on Growing Women’s Business

Faherty Shines Spotlight on Growing Women’s Business

Women’s wear has become a major growth category for the Faherty Brand, and the casual lifestyle label is beefing up its team in hopes of continuing to expand its reach and product offering.

Jennifer Cole, who has worked for Global Brands Group, Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Kors and Theory, has joined the company as design director of women’s and is overseeing the creative offering for the growing category.

Faherty Brand, which was founded by twin brothers Alex and Mike Faherty in 2013, cut its teeth in men’s wear, providing an East Coast-skewed alternative to the brightly colored California surf brands. The Faherty brothers, who grew up surfing in New Jersey, offered up a collection of sustainably sourced sportswear with a beach-inspired, muted color palette. Mike Faherty, who had worked for Ralph Lauren before launching the brand, serves as creative director, while his brother Alex has a finance background, and oversees the business end.

While men’s sales are still strong, women’s has grown to the point where it now accounts for half of the company’s overall sales.

“We’ve had women’s since we started,” Alex Faherty said, “but men’s was the focus for us for the first five or six years. Last year, we really invested in women’s, built out the team and launched a full collection for spring 2020 — right before the pandemic.”

But thanks to its comfortable, relaxed and casual aesthetic, the brand managed to hold its own during the height of the coronavirus spread this spring. Although its 12 stores were closed, and its wholesale business took a hit, Faherty’s online sales remained solid.

“One year ago, online was 20 or 25 percent of the business, but now it’s approaching 50 percent — and we’ve seen a lot of momentum,” Alex Faherty said. He attributed that to the fact that Faherty’s clothes are “quarantine-friendly.”

In women’s wear, the most popular item is dresses, which account for 40 percent of all women’s sales, Faherty said. Washed cotton and linen fabrics and comfortable silhouettes are “one-piece, easy to put on and super simple,” said Henry Spear, vice president of merchandising and planning. “They feel easy and elevated, not frumpy or overthought.”

Most recently, the brand collaborated with Onia on a collection of women’s swimwear that feature a selection of the brand’s vintage-inspired Hawaiian shirt prints.

Faherty’s own stores, which are located on the East and West Coasts in resort communities such as Martha’s Vineyard; Newport Beach and Malibu, Calif., and Spring Lake, N.J., as well as other popular spots such as Greenwich Village in New York City and Boston, account for around 20 percent of sales. Wholesale, which is 30 percent of the business, includes a strong specialty store client list and its “anchor customer,” which is Nordstrom, Alex Faherty said.

All but the store in Hudson Yards in New York have reopened, he said, and the locations in resort and beach communities are outperforming those in cities. At this point, there are no plans to add other units, but he said the company is “always looking,” and views this time as ripe to “see where opportunities might come up.”

Although Faherty feels mainly like a summer brand, “Our business is actually pretty split between spring and fall,” he said.

In the colder months, the brand switches from lightweight sport shirts and sleeveless dresses to sweaters, Spear said, in cotton and traceable cashmere, alpaca and other sustainable materials. “We like our clothes to be happy and have a sense of optimism,” he said.

Looking ahead, Spear said the goal is to continue to expand its women’s offering into other categories. “We’re going to continue to capitalize on the popularity of sweaters and dresses, and we see opportunity in fashion tops and knitwear including fleeces, zip-up hoodies with a novelty/retro aesthetic. That’s closely linked to outerwear, which we’re also hoping to expand.”

Overall, Alex Faherty is optimistic about the continued growth of women’s wear, saying: “We are finding a good lane and we feel really good about it.”

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