Ethan Song, cofounder and chief executive officer of Frank & Oak, never imagined that he would work in fashion.
Three years ago, he founded the Montreal-based direct-to-consumer e-commerce brand that focused on the men’s lifestyle segment, or what Song called the “25-to-35-year-old creative male shopper going to Soho House or NeueHouse.”
“We realized that the power of technology wasn’t just access to products that you didn’t have access to before. That was 15 years ago or even 20. We have access to everything, so what’s the next thing?” Song said.
Along with cofounder Hicham Ratnani, the two set out to make the lives of men easier, starting with shopping and looking good. They created a personalized styling service that was cool, modern and less expensive than what was offered in a traditional department store format.
“Other than throwing out words like authenticity and consumer behavior, there was a need for the consumer to be global and localized at the same time,” Song said. “You can be at a bar in Williamsburg [in Brooklyn, N.Y.] and know the bartender but be on Tinder making a date for [your trip] to Paris.”
This is the philosophy behind the mobile focused e-commerce business, which was listed as one of Fast Company’s 10 Most Innovative Companies in the World. Song said that Frank & Oak currently has more two million members on the site and more than 500,000 using the mobile app.
Earlier this year, the company expanded its personal stylist feature and opened its first U.S. pop-up stores in Boston and Chicago. A Canadian flagship opened late last year in Toronto’s Queen Street West district.
“We created a platform where the community shaped the identity of the brand,” Song said. “ It’s highly contextualized, community-driven and always first to invest in new technologies.”