Spotlight On: Favorite picks from Frank & Oak

October 24, 2012 · 20 comments

in Spotlight On

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Hey gents,

I wanted to shine a little light on Frank & Oak (aff link), a Montreal-based clothing upstart selling basics and more around the $25 – $50 range.

A few of you guys mentioned F & O to me in previous articles’ comments, and although I’ve heard of them, haven’t really had the opportunity to evaluate them up close.

I finally had a chance to see exactly what the deal is, and bottom line (if you haven’t already), I suggest you add them to your short list of places to shop.

A little background

Frank & Oak is among the new crop of online menswear brands that are making “dressing well” more accessible and affordable for guys like you and me. Prices are kept low because they control practically the whole vertical, from design to point of sale.

F & O doesn’t own the manufacturing (as far as I can tell) but they work directly with factories in China, Canada, and the US. Good relationships with factories can help keep costs relatively low, which is good news for you. There is no middleman between you and F & O since they sell directly via their website. This also helps to keep costs and prices at bay.

Roughly every month, F & O releases a new offering. It’s a little different each time. One of their recent releases featured 100% wool V-neck sweaters ($50) and a trio of tweed blazers. Getting on their email list is a pleasure as well; they often send out great deals and the complementary editorial content they produce is very helpful.

Here’s an example: One of the more recent emails I received was a shirt + blazer deal; buy one of their featured shirts at $45, and get their new Westmoore corduroy blazer for $50 (aff link).

One thing though… I can’t promise those items will still be there when you click on any of these links. For one, they release products in limited runs, so items are sold out fairly quickly.

Two, they have a unique shopping algorithm in place that determines what you’re most likely to be interested in. This is based on the style survey you fill out during signup, and your shopping habits (you’re being watched! but in a good way I suppose).

Therefore you get this unique offering meant for you, which means the suggestions you see are different from what I may see. Cray, right?

Two types of shopping

So if you’re new to the site, you may notice this thing called the Hunt Club. Essentially, each month you’re given a curated selection of items from the Frank & Oak shop. You pick five (Ed. note — some are saying this has changed to three) and have them sent to you. You can try everything on at home, keep what you like, and only be charged for the things you keep.

You won’t be charged for any of the items you return. Shipping is covered as well, so you wouldn’t have to worry about that. In case you don’t want to be sent any items for the month, you can choose to skip the month. You can also cancel your membership to the Hunt Club at any time.

In the Shop section, you can pick your items a la carte, as you would any other store. The offerings are cycled quite frequently, so if you’re going to wait a couple months to think about something, well, that item probably won’t be around. The upside of small runs is that you get a unique piece that not everyone in your hometown is wearing. Downside? Stuff sells out quickly.

In case you need to return an item, you get store credit applicable towards any other purchases in the future. Not a big deal to me, but thought it’d be worth mentioning.

Quality, construction, fit, sizing

I had the opportunity to check out one of their sport shirts in a blue / green mini gingham, a varsity v-neck, and a green necktie. Overall, I’m happy with what I’ve seen. Fabric quality and construction is good for the price point. The fabric is soft to the touch, and both the sport shirt and tie are 100% cotton. The V-neck is a cotton/poly blend and is still as soft as you’d expect.

Construction is decent and of the same quality you’d find in comparatively-priced shirts. It’s not Italian-made from the finest cotton and sewn with thread spun from majestic unicorn hairs, but it’s also not a $350 shirt.

Most of this quality and construction talk doesn’t matter to the average style student. What should be most important to you is FIT.

Luckily, fit is what stood out the most to me when checking out the F & O shirts; they’re very well-fitting for an off-the-rack shirt. They are a slimmer fit, so if that’s your body type, they’re pretty much true to size.

If you’re an in-betweener like me, I’d probably size up. The sport shirt in particular fit me well in the torso (and I loved the minimal fabric at the hip, making it easy to tuck in without excess billowing), but the chest was a bit snug.

To be fair, I have a really wide chest and back relative to my waist; a medium would have probably worked better. The sleeves on the small were perfect, however. So if you’re of average arm length, sleeves shouldn’t be a big worry for you.

I haven’t had the opportunity to try out their pants or blazers yet, but I imagine them to fit in the same way. If you have more or less normal proportions and regularly buy slim fit stuff, you can buy true to size. If you’re an in-betweener, size up.

Bottom line

If you want modern, well-fitting pieces that are easy on the pocket, consider Frank & Oak among your options.

To take advantage of everything, you first have to sign up as a member (aff link), it’s free!

My picks from the current offering

After spending a bunch of time browsing the site, I thought I’d offer my four favorite picks from the current collection. From what I hear, they’re getting ready to release November’s collection any day now, so most likely you’ll have a whole new set of items to choose from.

Anyway, here are some of the things that stood out to me:

1.) Layton Shirt in Cedar
2.) Lennon Square Tie in Newcastle
3.) Craftsman Leather Belt in Forest
4.) Westmoore Corduroy Blazer in Russet

By the way, my four picks plus all links marked with “(aff link)” are affiliate links, which means if you sign up or purchase something through them, you’re supporting EG in a small way (thanks for that!)

If you don’t want to use those links, you can also just go to frankandoak.com and sign up directly. No biggie.

Enjoy!

[images: Frank & Oak, green/blue gingham shirt + tie: me]

About

Barron is the founder and editor of Effortless Gent, a site dedicated to helping guys figure out what looks best on them. He's based in San Francisco. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

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