Frank & Oak: disrupting the fashion industry
There are several tech start ups that have begun to disrupt their respective industries not through new technologies but by developing user-centered systems that deliver to consumers what they want when they want it.
One of these retailers is Montreal based Frank and Oak, that through a combination of great clothes, a unique delivery system and the focus on turning consumers to participants has created one of the newest thriving businesses in the fashion scene.
Frank and oak is a custom fashion online fashion service cater primarily to males between the ages of 25 – 40. The company began with the insight The shopping experience for males was rather broken, many retail stores had limited male collections and the ones that did were primarily more expensive . Beyond that males typically dislike the in person shopping experience and are rather functional about finding and buying clothes Frank and oak went from this by shifting the shopping experience online in a way that was different from other e-commerce retailers . Based in Montreal they built a network of suppliers and created a system that gave people more control and eliminated a lot of the drawbacks from buying online.
Firstly the business started with the idea of offering great clothes for guys for under 50 dollars cad (35 euros) this included shirts and blazers. Which was a huge initial draw for users. Frank and oak users begin by answering questions on their style and preferences. this helps frank and oak curated and show primarily items from their collection they feel you would like, much like a the personal shopping assistant. They also differ from other retailers in that they change their collection every month, based on a theme. So the users are coming back at least once a month to see what’s new. From there you have the option of signing up for the hunt club a members clubs that Is one of the main value offerings for Frank and oak. Here they eliminate one of the main drawbacks of buying online primarily the fact that you cannot see the cloths before buying them. With hunt club they allow their users to try – out 3 articles of clothing every month when they introduce a new collection. The box comes to them free of shipping, and they get to try on the clothing. They have 5 days to pick the items they want to choose by confirming the rest and return the rest in the same box it was shipped in using a prepaid shipping label given to them once they confirm. The user drops it off at a post office and once received frank and oak emails a confirmation the package was returned. They leads to an easy experience where users can view. Try and purchase all at their own pace without the pressure that can come from buying on the spot at retail stores. Beyond that there are different email and phone communication touch points that you can access if there are any issues. They also built a wide network activating local Montreal artisans who specialize in clothing accessories such as belts, tie bars and cufflinks.
In a recent in a recent Fast Company article Ethan Song spoke about two aspects core that are essential to F&O and any successful service design project for that matter. The first being the need to involved users at every step of the way, and the second being working in a multidisciplinary environment.
Ethan spoke about how they approached the process of designing a new line of Chinos. Rather than just assuming what they liked best, they polled users what they want to see. Made a limited run of 200 pants, and sold it to various consumers, and then interviewed these consumers to see what they liked or didn’t like about them, and then adjusted the pants design to this feedback. In the end they created one of the best-selling items in their collection. This attention to detail is something that can be seen in their entire business model.
Secondly Ethan also pointed to the working environment of F&O wherein, graphic designers, engineers, fashion designers, and marketers all come together when discussing and created new website features. Rather than working in silos, which can create rifts between departments, collaborating in a cohesive way allows for new ideas to come to the surface and allows for the best possible digital product to come to light.
Service design projects thrive when they are the direct collaboration of many different disciplines coming together to co-create a new solution. The strength of service designers in this is to be able to connect these disciplines together in a way that the end product doesn’t just become a frankenstein of different features but a fluid system that is not only easy to engage with but enjoyable to use as well.