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Menswear Start-Up Frank & Oak Goes Upscale with United Tailors

Nine months ago Montreal-based Frank & Oak launched with a simple mission: release a new, limited collection of on-trend menswear every month at a maximum price of $50 per item. The formula seems to be working: Since February of this year the company has grown from 10 employees to 45 and has accrued 250,000 online members who have access to its monthly collections.

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Recently it unveiled its new upscale United Tailors collection at its Mile End Shop, a pop-up boutique in New York City's SoHo named for Montreal's hippest neighborhood (think Williamsburg or Silver Lake, but with poutine). The aim, according to Frank & Oak CEO Ethan Song, was to release something more formal with luxurious materials like Mongolian cashmere and Italian wool. United Tailors is also a tightly edited collection, a boon for men who need a little sartorial guidance and want to, according to the brand's slogan, "spend less time shopping and more time looking good."

"Our idea was, if you were going to leave for a trip to Paris, what are the 10 pieces you would bring with you in your suitcase?" says Song, adding that "the whole collection can be mixed and matched. So a double-breasted, silk-wool-blend jacket can be paired with a gingham shirt for the weekend and a striped collared shirt for work." There's even a foolproof, step-by-step online guide for building an outfit for any occasion, be it date night, family time or a night out on the town.

With pieces like a slim-fit chambray shirt in light blue ($75) and a chestnut blazer made from Shetland wool ($195), Frank & Oak is betting that its regular customers are willing to stretch their budget occasionally for something more fashion-forward. Like all of Frank & Oak's collections, United Tailors has a short shelf life, in this case until the end of December. That's another part of the label's appeal. Each piece is available only for a limited time, decreasing the chances that you'll see someone at a party wearing the same Frank & Oak sweater as you.

The company is also sticking to its e-commerce roots: While you can browse the collection in person at the New York pop-up, ordering is done online and clothes are shipped to the buyer. "I don't think there's a menswear brand out there that's this integrated," says Song. He may be right. From the design to the marketing, everything at Frank & Oak is done with the web experience in mind, and as shopping online becomes the norm, expect more new fashion brands to do the same.

—Keith Wagstaff is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Follow him @kwagstaff.


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Photos: Frank & Oak
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