Ladies, get set for cool, affordable basics from the brand that has shaken up the retail scene with menswear. Frank+Oak, the Montreal online startup has already garnered 2.5 million subscribers and opened 15 stores in North America since 2012. It’s a full line of almost 100 pieces, priced from about $50 to $165, to be sold only online for the time being in the fall. We got an exclusive sneak peek at the line in Toronto, and spoke with co-founder and CEO Ethan Song earlier this summer.
Why women and why now?
“The first two years of Frank+Oak were about a new concept in menswear. The last two years were about building a community around our brand. When we look at our employees, our customer base – it’s a mix. At some point, it just makes sense to include everyone and to be inclusive. And I think our brand speaks the value of both genders.”
Does the new women’s line play into the trend to genderless dressing?
“In some ways, menswear has become more feminine and women’s wear has become more masculine. This whole idea of gender neutral looks–that’s where our position is going to come into play. On the women’s wear side, we’re starting from strong basics, the same as we do on the men’s side, and then modernizing them, making them a little more exciting for our customer.”
What about changes to the stores to accommodate women and their fashion?
“Our big focus in the next few months is not just to launch a product online but also to engage a female audience. How do we create content that is relevant for them? The brand has been built on this idea of a certain lifestyle, in Mile End, or let’s say Queen West, and what we’re looking at is extending that lifestyle to the other gender. We’re going to be doing community events and retailing the product on our web site. That’s where we’re going to start.”
Who’s your customer?
“We don’t see our female customer necessarily as the girlfriend of our male shopper. She could be, but we see her as an independent woman who has plans, who’s ambitious, who is entrepreneurial in her own way. Age is difficult, but I call them the new creative professionals–people who work in advertising, marketing, technology–that’s who our customer is.”
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