Two online men’s wear start-ups — Frank & Oak and Mizzen + Main — have received venture capital funding.
This story first appeared in the September 4, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Frank & Oak has closed on a Series B funding round of $15 million, led by Goodwater Capital. Additional new investor participants include Greenoaks Capital and Investissement Québec, as well as individual investor John Currie, the chief financial officer of Lululemon Athletica Inc. The company raised $5 million in a Series A round in September 2013, and $1 million in a seed and angel round before that. Prior investors in the early rounds included Rho Canada Ventures; Real Ventures; Version One Ventures; Lightbank, and Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments. Some of those investors, such as Rho Canada and Bertelsmann, also invested in the Series B as well.
Separately, Howard Starr, former president and chief executive officer of Tommy Hilfiger International, will become a member of its board of advisors.
Ethan Song, who cofounded Frank & Oak in 2012, said the company will use the funding to continue to build out the site and add staffing.
The aesthetics of the Frank & Oak line targets creative entrepreneurs, individuals such as Song who tend to have an interest in fashion, Song said. The operation is a vertical one and there is a new collection every month.
“We have about 60 to 75 new pieces every month. The collections have specific themes, and there is a monthly feed on the site on what to wear and how to wear it,” said Song. He explained that while digital content on the site changes every week, there is also a print magazine that comes out twice a year for its members. And while the business model is not a subscription format, the site does require individuals to sign up, so it can obtain personalized data to better target the site to its users based on personal preferences. The company currently has 1.5 million members who shop the site, both online and via a mobile app. Price points range from $45 to $75 for a shirt to $125 to $200 for a jacket.
Chi-Hua Chien of Goodwater Capital said he was attracted to the company as an investment because of the “sense of design, integration with its factory and deep technology platform. Most of the time you see one or two of those components. It is rare to see all three in one company.”
Chien also noted that what was impressive was that Frank & Oak grew organically. “This company didn’t spend much money on marketing. This was a word-of-mouth phenomena. It’s the next generation of young, professional men who are passionate for the brand….They made it fun for men to shop for clothes,” the investor said.
Over at Mizzen + Main, also launched in 2012, the company has secured $1.25 million in Series A funding.
The investment fund is led by former Astor & Black founder David Schottenstein and includes VegasTechFund, which was started by Zappos ceo Tony Hsieh. Also included in the round are Silicon Valley and Dallas hedge fund partners.
The Mizzen + Main brand started as a shirtmaker featuring performance fabrics that offer moisture-wicking and wrinkle-free dress shirts. The production in the wrinkle-free component has since been expanded to 15 different dress shirts, six Henleys, a long-sleeve T-shirt and a blazer, with the latter first shipping later this month. Both the blazer and its lining feature four-way stretch. Also new and shipping later this month, is a performance stretch denim pant.
Kevin Lavelle, cofounder and ceo, said, “I was soaked in sweat one day in D.C.’s summer heat and I thought why not create a dress shirt out of the same performance fabric. In the world of golf, it wasn’t initially acceptable, but then it became more acceptable. We spent a year in product development before launching. This fabric is not going to show you sweating. Unlike other no-iron dress shirts that have a treatment applied to the cotton fabric, our fabrication has the wick-free technology built into the fabric.”
The company started with $250,000 in a seed round, and earlier this year launched a Kickstarter campaign to test interest for its blazer — the same one scheduled to ship later this month — before going into production after receiving orders totaling $50,000.
Price points are $125 for the dress shirts, $58 for the Henley, $165 for the denim pants and $400 for the blazer.