No, that headline isn’t a joke: Frank & Oak, a Montreal-based men’s fashion/lifestyle brand that came into the world as a digital business, recently decided to put its brand in print.
The project launched at the end of May, with the first issue of biannual magazine Oak Street available for purchase online and at select coffee shops and other venues. The premiere contains editorial pieces on everything from the expected (men’s fashion) to the very unexpected (trends in humane fishing and artisanal coffee) with more on the blog.
For context, Frank & Oak has received quite a bit of media attention from both general publications and tech blogs since launching in 2012 thanks both to its status as a mobile commerce-turned brick and mortar retailer a la Warby Parker and its custom apps.
The decision to launch a lavish print mag feels especially unusual for such a forward-thinking business. We asked Ethan Song, CEO and co-founder of Frank & Oak, to explain the strategy behind it.
What led you to decide that creating a brand magazine would be a valuable move for Frank & Oak?
Our goal at Frank & Oak is to always be a trusted advisor, in part by creating immersive and informative content. Oak Street is one way we create and build community, make personal connections with our readers, and depict a lifestyle they might aspire to.
How does the editorial process work?
As the Creative Director behind the brand, I laid out the direction and theme for the issue. Then, our internal content and photography teams and I—along with external contributors—brainstormed ideas that fit within that theme. Once all of the content was set, the magazine was designed, edited, and curated in-house. Oak Street is definitely a collaborative project.
The Frank & Oak team at work
How would you like Oak Street to affect readers’ relationships with your brand?
Frank & Oak is a products company, and this magazine falls in line with the products we create–it just happens to be content. Regardless of what it is that we’re making, we’re always focused on the user experience. Oak Street is another signal to our customers and followers that we care, and we want to continue to build a relationship with them.
We hope that readers of Oak Street will take inspiration both from the creative people and ideas featured, and from the magazine itself and its commitment to quality and design.
How specific is your target audience, and do you eventually see the magazine appealing to people outside that key demographic?
We see our target audience as individuals who are interested in culture and creativity across many different topics—business, travel, fashion, art, community, design. Surely some may be Frank & Oak customers, but many may not be.
A screenshot of the company’s products
I noticed some products featured in the magazine that do not bear the Frank & Oak name. Are they partners or paid advertisers?
In Oak Street we feature products—whether from Frank & Oak or not—we feel will be interesting and inspiring to our readers.
How does the general “progress vs. tradition” theme of the first issue tie to your brand’s identity?
Everything we do—be it our website, products, or partnerships—is about combining technology, creativity, and innovation, while maintaining a respect for tradition and craft.
What do we think of the magazine project? Is the old school new again?