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Free People Company Spreads Bohemian Vibe

Allie Stote

A new Free People clothing store opened in Harvard Square about three weeks ago. The new store is located on the corner of Church and Brattle streets, to the right of American Apparel.

Free People—a new women’s clothing boutique at 63 Church St.—provides Square customers with another outlet for urban fashion, according to Store Manager Rachael M. Quinton-Medeiros.

Though there is already a Free People store in the Boston Prudential Center, the new branch hopes to target the region’s young “artist types” and college students, Quinton-Medeiros said.

While the store has the feel of a local business, Free People is part of a national brand that was started in 1970 and later changed its name to Urban Outfitters. Free People became a wholesale subsidiary of the company and sold apparel to small boutiques until current CEO Meg Hayne opened the first retail store in 2002.

Harvard Square is now home to three divisions of the company, including Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and now Free People, which opened on Aug. 12.

Free People’s Harvard Square location is one of 54 stores throughout the country, while the other divisions have hundreds.

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“[Free People] completes our family here,” said Kenneth M. Bowker, store manager at Anthropologie in Harvard Square. “We cross over so much and work to promote each other, but our styles are also different.”

Urban Outfitters sells both men’s and women’s clothing, while Anthropologie and Free People sell women’s apparel exclusively. Bowker described Anthropologie’s style as sophisticated, while Free People is more bohemian.

Free People’s clothing line features five different styles, including Lou for the relaxed type, and Meadow, a bohemian look. Quinton-Medeiros said the five different styles try to appeal to each girl’s personality.

“The vision for the store is to try to stay a little bit ahead of fashion. We offer really easy to wear, gorgeous but comfortable items,” Quinton-Medeiros said.

The employees identify with the brand’s California vibe in style and attitude, said Visual Manager Nicole M. Fletcher, who graduated from MassArt’s fibers program and is responsible for the interior design of the 1,200 square foot store.

“I do display and appreciate the creative freedom I have here,” she said.

As a tribute to the company’s history, the store front in Harvard Square was modeled after the first store in Philadelphia.

The store plans to connect with the community through customer-exclusive events held on its rooftop, including a fashion night out. Quinton-Medeiros also hopes to work with the University for future events.

“You guys are our demographic. We want to work with you and get to know you,” she said.

—Staff writer Kerry M. Flynn can be reached at kflynn@college.harvard.edu.

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