When you step into the brand new Frye Company flagship space on Newbury Street, it hits you. The distinct, inimitable smell of fine leather: rich and warm, at once familiar, rustic and undeniably expensive.
The leather company, known for its signature boots — though they also sell a range of handmade goods that include flats, sandals and bags — unveiled their newest flagship store in the space formerly occupied by Charley’s restaurant. It’s a bit of a homecoming for the brand, which has deep roots in New England and was founded in Marlborough more than 150 years ago (then the John A. Frye Shoe Co.) and once outfitted Civil War soldiers.
Frye’s staying power can likely be attributed to both the quality of their product and the timelessness of their aesthetic. Each boot is crafted by hand, in fact by hundreds of hands. “It ranges between 150 and 190 steps to make each pair of boots,” says creative director Michael Petry. “It’s astonishing to see the number of people that touch your boot before it gets packaged and put in the box.”
The Newbury Street store is understated and expansive at 9,000 square feet, marked by dark wood and raw metal accents. A handcrafted installation constructed entirely from the metal rings you’ll recognize from Frye’s signature Harness Boot hangs in the entryway. The art piece contains 9,000 rings in total, hanging from leather straps. Vintage suitcases, old metal fans and other retro decor are interspersed artfully throughout displays of leather boots, Mary Janes and even a wall of aged leather sneakers. In the menswear section there’s a space where guys tagging along with female shopping companions are invited to chill out on a comfy leather couch.
The new flagship is one of just a handful they have planned. Petry says they’ll soon be opening Georgetown and Chicago flagships as well but have no plans for a big retail expansion. “Two is twice as many as one, I think?” he jokes. “I’m not great with math; I do design.” They have no interest in opening stores in malls or giant shopping centers. Rather, they just hope that these new flagships help spread awareness of the Frye brand.
And lest you question the business smarts of opening a leather boot store just at the start of summer, Petry assures, “Boots have become a 12-month-a-year business.” He continues, “Really, we just want to make products that we’re really proud of and hope that everyone enjoys them as much as we do.”
284 Newbury St., Boston