Four and a half years ago, Canadian-based retailer Frank + Oak was born from a lack of high-quality, highly functional fashion catered to the "millennial male," aka urban sophisticates who are drawn to modern-day classics. Well, the lifestyle brand was clearly onto something—it has since garnered a fanbase of more than 2.5 million people across North America. And now, that fanbase is about to get a whole lot bigger. Today, Frank + Oak has announced its plans to launch a womenswear collection come fall, with a 100-piece range that comprises clothing and bags.
"As we were building our community, we realized that women were joining, and even though we never intended to create products for women, they were becoming customers," says Ethan Song, CEO and co-founder of the brand, who called out the shirting collection, sweaters, and backpacks as top hits among women. "Once we realized they were already buying from Frank + Oak, a womenswear collection felt like the right next step." (Interestingly enough, the distinction between men's and womenswear has blurred—a fact that Song muses and notes as the aesthetic they're striving to achieve.)
But first, the team spent nearly a year establishing the direction and design vision by polling real women and looking at their current customer base. What they learned: 1) The need to create easy, versatile clothing that you'd feel comfortable biking in to work, wearing all day at the office, and grabbing after-work drinks, 2) The importance of a solid layering system, as in pieces that look good on its own or paired with others, and 3) An emphasis on quality materials, like the right weights and textures, which is an aspect of menswear that's often lost in women's.
Once that was set, the design process itself was a breeze. With a new womenswear design team in place led by Melissa Donaldson, the collection boasts functional, modern-day classics that stay true to Frank + Oak's masculine origins, but with a feminine touch.
"We definitely wanted to take some aspects from menswear," Donaldson says. "Any woman can buy a men's shirt, but it's great to have a mens-like shirt that's made for a woman."
In addition to shirting, Song says he expects the outerwear collection is going to resonate among women. "It's functional and elevated at the same time; it's fashionable, and it can protect against the rain and cold," he explains, going on to list the range of toppers, including winter parkas, bomber jackets, and trench coats.
Unfortunately, we have a few more months until we can get our hands on the womenswear collection (a hard date hasn't been set, but expect it to land late August or early September). In the meantime, preview the collection with a look at the sketches above (the pieces themselves are still being kept under wraps) and shop the menswear collection at frankandoak.com (we hear the shirts are pretty great).