Frank & Oak: Ethan Song

Frank & Oak: Ethan Song
Written by: Geo Hagan

In a few short years, Montreal-based online retailer Frank & Oak has established itself as a home of sensible, affordable clothes for young, style-minded men. Their offerings are expertly curated to suit all the needs of their quickly growing customer base. Whether it’s a dashing suit for an interview, an outfit for a date, clean denim for the weekend, they have it all. We were eager to find out the secret behind their success, and luckily, Frank & Oak co-founder Ethan Song decided to oblige. See the interview below: 

Our clothing is a mix of modern American workwear staples and European silhouettes

How would you describe the overall Frank & Oak approach to men’s style?

Our overarching goal is to make shopping simple for men. We’ve got a curated experience with everything you need to dress the part when you’re out at dinner or on a job interview.

Our clothing is a mix of modern American workwear staples and European silhouettes. Whether we’re drawing inspiration from vintage menswear or modern art, our goal is to push the boundaries of fashion, retail, and technology to help men upgrade their styles.

Being that the company is based in Montreal, is there a particular style aesthetic of your city that influences your collections?

Montreal is an incredibly vibrant, multicultural, and creative city, so it’s easy to take inspiration from what we see and feel in our daily lives. Our head office is in the cultural hotbed known as the Mile End. On every corner, you’ll find stylish boutiques and cafes, filled with young people who share a passion for building anew while maintaining the local legacy. This constant flow of imagination is our inspiration.

What is your e-commerce model – is it subscription-based or is it a straight-forward online shopping experience?

It’s a personalized online shopping experience. We make product suggestions based on each member’s personal style preferences (determined through style and lifestyle questions), and shopping habits (eg. purchases and returns).

Our members choose from a curated selection of modern apparel, and clothing is shipped right to their doors.

They can also choose to join the Hunt Club, our risk-free membership service offering free at-home try on (try the clothes before you buy), free shipping both ways, 8% back in store credit on every purchase made, and special pricing offers.

How often do you put out new collections – is it every three months, six months, etc?

Unlike traditional retailers who offer seasonal collections, we offer a new collection every month in order to respond quickly to market trends and customer feedback. This way, we’re able to offer the right product to the right client at the right time.

It’s interesting when it comes to men and style. Some men just get it and others just don’t care– what are the type of customers Frank & Oak caters to?

The typical Frank & Oak man is 20-35. He’s creative, has entrepreneurial drive, and he wants to have an impact on the world.

Most online retailers use editorial content centered on their clothes to drive traffic and sales – has that method worked for you?

We think of content more as an educational tool for our customers, rather than something to drive sales. It’s important to us to teach guys more about style, and to help them develop their own personal styles.

Does Frank & Oak do collaborations with other brands to broaden the consumer base and create more exciting and varied collections?

We do collaborations because they allow us to learn from the other brands, and to offer something distinct and interesting to our customers.  As long as the partnership makes sense and the result is something new and unexpected, the collaboration is worth trying.

With regards to your personal style – what are the core essentials in your wardrobe?

When it comes to personal style, I really like the simplicity; I’m an efficient dresser. I like to wear simple tone-on-tone clothing, like black raw denim, a gray t-shirt, and a layering piece like a blazer, jacket, or sweater, depending on my schedule. I usually finish off my look with the vintage-inspired Nike Waffle Racer, or the classic Adidas Stan Smith.

What do you feel are the most important accessories a man must never skimp on?

There are a few things a man should never skimp on. First, shoes – quality is important, and they’re a key part of any outfit. Second, he should have a study and stylish bag. You carry your life around in your bag, after all. And finally, every man should invest in a good umbrella.

You are still a young brand – what is the ultimate vision for Frank & Oak say 5/10 years now?

Our goal is to dress the Internet Generation all over the world, from NYC to Stockholm. Whether it’s two, five, or ten years from now, that’s what drives us to succeed everyday.

Sometimes people tend to take this fashion/style thing a little too seriously – how do you define style in your own life?

For me, style is about expressing your own personality. There are no restrictions, and no wrong answers. If it helps you to express who you are as a person, feel free to do it!

Lastly, what can we expect from the upcoming Spring and Fall 2014 collections from Frank & Oak?

In the coming year, we’re moving from a heritage-inspired look to something more global and minimal. We’ll be adding lots of textures for the guys who want to quietly stand out, and incorporating athletic pieces into formal looks for interesting and unexpected styling.

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