Frank and Oak Interview

Location: My bedroom via iPhone

This is my 6th fashion week, so I’ve seen many different types of designers, collections and concepts.  Most brands release two to four times a year, so I was extremely excited to do an interview with Ethan Song, of Frank & Oak, who releases 12 collections per year.  Yes, that means that they release a new collection every single month.  

My interview with Ethan was unlike one I have ever done.  Ethan is the co-founder, CEO, and creative director of the company, which means he interacts with many aspects of the company.  As creative director he oversees the direction of all collections and designs most of the pieces with the support of his team.

Here is a Q and A with Ethan where I find about how he ended up creating a men’s lifestyle brand based out of Montreal.

Freddy: How did you get into fashion?

Ethan: In university I studied film directing and acting.  I’ve always been interested in the different ways of telling a story.  My interest in directing subsided and I realized that fashion is the one place where I can design and interact directly with an audience on a daily basis.  I enjoy design in the broader sense… of shaping a feel, a mood or a piece of material. We start each collection with a storyline that ends up creating an entire world.

F: Does NYFW excite you?

E: I am very excited about getting the opportunity to present during NYFW. New York has an amazing aura and is just right for menswear right now. That said, we always like to do things our way and don’t tend to follow the established norm. You know we design, make and retail directly to our customers… we don’t sell through retailers or work with showrooms… in fact, we don’t have seasonal collections. So what we are showing is not spring but the October, November and December collections. We like to live in the near future.

F: What are your biggest goals for the show?

E: I think that this is a great opportunity for people to get to know us, our story and aesthetics. We only retail online through our shop and its always great to get to interact with customers and members of the community in person. I’ll be happy if we can bring the community together around a fun event.

F: Traditional brands have a tough time releasing 2-4 collections a year.  Your team is able to do it every single month.  How do you make this possible?

E: We are able to create many collections by looking at seasons as a curve and then creating singular themes for each month.  We produce in small quantities so that customers can look forward to different original pieces each month.  We are very hands on.  It’s a tremendous amount of work—- but we are always researching new fabrics, new techniques…  Our montreal office is a creative studio and we are proud to handle every step of the way.

F: What inspires each collection every month?

E: At NYFW we are showcasing the combination of 3 collections titled -  Reinvention, Progression, and The Highlands.  These themes are inspired by artists and entrepreneurs I’ve met in my travels… when you look at the pieces, there is a feeling of globalization… its eclectic with touches of Europe and Asia but all fits together. The collections represents the constantly evolving modern man - the places, the cities, the colors encountered along the way.

F: What is the concept behind the presentation?

E: As I said before, the inspiration for the collections presented really comes from creativity and innovation. So I decided to go back and set the collection in the laboratory of the ultimate innovator… a bit of a mad scientist actually, Nikola Tesla. Tesla had such an interesting and at times dark life… it reads like a tragedy and yet is so inspiring.

F: How are you different from traditional brands?

E: We really care about what we stand for and try to be relevant to the men who identify with our values.  We design with them in mind.  We don’t like to follow the set rules of traditional retail or fashion - we just do what feels natural. We also handle everything about the clothing and shopping experience ourselves - from design to photography, from the design of the online shop to the service we offer. Finally, we care very much about making fashion and style as democratic as possible.

F: You aren’t currently based in NYC.  How does that affect your brand?

E: We are based out of Montreal, Canada.  It’s only a 90 minute plane ride—- but being there allows us to have a different creative mindset.  Our style has elements of american workwear integrated into a modernist european lifestyle.  We like to be in Montreal but its always fun to have a foot in New York City.

This isn’t your normal company and talking to Ethan reinforced that for me.  I can’t wait to see what else they have up their sleeves and I am really looking forward to their presentation later today.

Make sure to go see their presentation today at 2:00 PM at the Highline Stages. #FrankAndOak #FOWorkshop

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