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.
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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