Before I Begin:
If this post inspires anyone to give Frank and Oak a try, feel free to use my referral link: http://vnlink.co/S5B7dYb (you’ll get $25 credit for signing up, can’t complain about that).
EDIT: We recently provided an update to this review, 'Frank and Oak - Reviewed and Revisited,' which can be found here. Enjoy!
As promised, here is Wide Eyes, Tight Wallet’s first full-length brand review. More to come in the future!
Frank and Oak is an online-only men’s clothing start-up service based out of Montreal, Canada. Their goal has been to offer stylish, modern, quality clothing at an affordable price by effectively cutting out the middle man. Instead of having a designer sell clothing designs to manufacturer, who then sells to a retailer (at a profit), who then sells to the consumer (at a bigger profit, those bastards), Frank and Oak does the whole process in house. The result (originally) was that nothing they sold cost over $50. More and more they have been surpassing that price point, but with the goal of offering some higher end clothing (their United Tailor collection is pretty damn sharp), and a wider range of articles (i.e. blazers, jackets, etc.). However, thus far their pricing has remained very manageable on all fronts. Frank and Oak are proud to make every effort toward sustainability, including using recycled goods for packaging and keeping a small selection to avoid overstock and wasted materials. They are also proud of their diverse backgrounds, stating on their website “We are you. We are designers, web geeks, architects and artists with a simple goal: to create high quality clothing and accessories and share them at a remarkable price.” Frank and Oak actually just celebrated their one-year anniversary this past month, so they are still just a bunch of young pups and I’m sure will continue to develop as time goes on.
In addition to standard online shopping, Frank and Oak offers a monthly trunk or ‘crate’ service called ‘The Hunt Club,’ of which I am a proud member. Honestly, this service is great. They do a much better job of explaining it on their ‘How It Works’ section, but here’s the gist: Every month you get to pick out three items, which they ship to you free of charge. You get to try on the clothes, decide what you want to keep, and send the rest back, at which point they charge you for the selections you’ve made. Not only does this give you a great, commitment-free way to try new clothes, they throw free shipping on all orders (crate and otherwise), which makes the whole thing worth it regardless of the crate in my book. I love free shipping. Some people worry with these kinds of services that you will be duped into buying things without realizing it, but Frank and Oak is great at keeping you on top of selection and return deadlines through great e-mail contact, and in the few cases where I’ve had issues with timing they’ve been more than forgiving. Final kicker? Hunt Club members receive 8% of every order back in store credit.
What I’ve Bought:
- Light Blue Oxford-Cloth-Button-Down (OCBD)
- Red Chambray Dress Shirt
- Charcoal Chambray Button-Down
- Charcoal Taylor Trousers
- Brown Wool Blazer
- Cotton Tie
I have to preface this section by admitting that I am no master clothier. I don’t know the difference between types of stitches, and I couldn’t pick out a fused collar at a glance, but I do think I recognize a quality garment. In my honest opinion, Frank and Oak really delivers when it comes to quality for the price you are paying. Everything I’ve bought just feels sturdy. Well-made. Like it won’t fall apart after a few washes, or split at the seams in the middle of my workday (I’ve had this happen with a pair of H&M pants and will never go back there again). The OCBD seems especially rugged, and is the one garment I’ve bought that seems borderline coarse (personally, I’m not complaining, I love the shirt, but if you want something lightweight, look elsewhere. Then again, if you want something lightweight, and OCBD probably isn’t your best bet to begin with). While this isn’t bespoke, hand sewn, custom-cut clothing, it beats the hell out of anything your going to get for the same price at a mass-produced joint like Express. I’d put fabric quality on-par with what I’ve purchased from J. Crew, but the prices are much more reasonable (and I’m so much more of a fan of Frank and Oak’s fit).
As of yet, I haven’t had any big issues to test out Frank and Oak’s customer service, but what interactions I have had have yielded no complaints on my end. The only mistake they made was they (once) sent me the wrong shirt as part of a Hunt Club crate selection. They offered to extend my selection deadline and send the correct shirt, but it was honestly something I was just trying on for fun, wasn’t going to buy, and liked the shirt they sent me instead anyway. I’ve contacted them a few times with minor questions about sizing and they have always been quick and friendly with their responses.
Also (and I’m not sure if this belongs in the ‘Customer Service’ section of the review), but they do go beyond just selling clothing, which is fun. Their main page every month includes a section called ‘The Edit’ which is along the lines of a monthly blog and includes interviews with a variety of people (from other players in the menswear world to musicians), lookbooks for some of that month’s selection, videos, and more. They also host a weekly #NecktieFriday competition on Twitter and Instagram that I have a blast participating in every week (in fact, I love it so much I already wrote about it)!
These guys are so great, in honor of their anniversary they made every competitor from that week a winner (which is how I scored that great cotton tie seen above).
What’s To Love:
The first thing to love about Frank and Oak is their price/quality ratio. By cutting out the middleman and encompassing the design, manufacture, and distribution of their products, they are able to offer high quality clothing at incredible prices. Blazers are the only thing that will cost you more than $50, and even those top out at little over $100. Even better, price aside I would still take one of their $45 shirts over a $75 shirt from J. Crew. As this blog focuses a lot on how to improve your wardrobe without breaking the bank (hence the Tight Wallets moniker), this is a huge plus in my book.
The biggest reason I personally love Frank and Oak is that everything fits me. Perfectly. I have never had this happen at any clothing company, and in fact I usually struggle to find brands where anything fits me great right off the rack. The dress shirts especially fit like a glove. I’m a pretty skinny guy and often suffer from shirts ballooning at the waist and through the arms (even from mid-high range brands like J. Crew and Ben Sherman), but I have none of those problems here. Everything seems very true-to-size and is cut with a modern, slim fit that is hard to find from any similar-priced store.
Additionally, the Hunt Club service is a huge benefit for a guy like me. I love shopping online (almost obsessively), but have a hard time committing to buying anything due to my afore-mentioned issues with fit from most brands. Being able to try things on risk-free gives me so much more confidence when making purchases and makes my shopping experience so much more stress-free.
Lastly, some might complain about the limited selection, but I think it’s another great part of what sets Frank and Oak aside. Sometimes, I find shopping from stores like J. Crew or other big-name brands to be overwhelming. With pages and pages of options in every category, it can be a chore to browse through a selection of pants just to decide there isn’t anything that happens to catch your eye. With the smaller, rotating selection that Frank and Oak offers, it is so much easier to take in the entire selection and make a quick decision about whether or not I want to make any purchases. Nine times out of ten there are still plenty of things I want, and that one time that there isn’t, I know it’s a mere 30 days until I have a whole new pool of items to pick from.
I personally have very few complaints when it comes to Frank and Oak. I have read that some customers have been displeased with variations in fit between similar garments. I will say that I have noticed this, but only very slightly. For example, my small OCBD fits a little bit looser than either of my small chambray shirts. However, the difference is small enough that I’ve still been very happy with the fit on all three shirts. I will be keeping an eye out for this issue as I continue to order, and if my opinion here changes I’ll be sure to mention it.
Another issue mentioned by other customers and noticed by myself is processing time. This seems (to me) to especially be an issue at the beginning of each month as Hunt Club orders are processed. Sometimes it has taken up to a week between submitting my selection and getting a shipment notice. However, I am very forgiving in this area. I think the benefits of the Hunt Club service more than make up for any wait time issues, plus I am inclined to be pretty forgiving as I keep in mind that this is a small startup with quickly growing clientele, and that’s half of what I love about them.
A final aspect that I have seen other customers take issue with is the fact that you have to sign up in order to browse the selection. If you ask me, this is a really silly gripe. There is no obligation in signing up, they don’t spam your e-mail address, and you can cancel at any point. So really, all you have to complain about is that hard, hard work you are going to put in typing your e-mail address and contact information. I know this can be exhausting, but I promise, it will be worth it.
Beyond that, I’ve noticed a few loose stitches here and there, but always in hard to see places and never to an extent that I feel significantly affects the integrity of any given item.
Conveniently, today Frank and Oak released their March selection, so I’ll let you all know what I’m ordering in my crate (whenever it comes I’ll give an update on how everything turns out):
Definitely getting the Newport Chinos in Olive. I checked with their customer service, and this is indeed more of a khaki color than olive (my new Olive Chukkas are more of a dark green). They did say it is a darker khaki, so hopefully it will be what I’m looking for. I’ve been needing a pair of khakis for way too long and have been waiting every month for Frank and Oak to offer their Chinos in the color I want.
I’m also going to get the Valmont Shirt in Pearl. This is another one I’ve trying to find for a while - a nice, great-fitting white shirt. It’s one of the most versatile items a guy can own, but while I do have a white shirt, I’m not a fan of the fabric or the way it fits, so I never wear it.
Lastly I want to try the Crosstown Bomber in Khaki. Honestly, I probably won’t keep this one. It’s a little out of my price range and not exactly what I’m looking for, but I’ve started keeping an eye out for a lighter spring jacket that I can wear with my office clothing, so I figured I’d at least give this a try.
Honestly, my selection is a little boring this month. I usually take advantage of the Hunt Club to try on things I wouldn’t normally wear. However, there are just those standards that I’ve been hunting for that have finally popped up, so I can’t resist and will have a lot more flexibility in my choices next month. I will say I was very tempted by the color selection for the Taylor trousers. I love my pair in charcoal and would have really liked some more colors, but the Chinos came in top priority. I also wish there had been a blazer that caught my eye, but not this month! Hopefully they have some nice lightweight ones coming up soon for the summer. They also (as always) have a great selection of ties and pocket squares, but I already have a go-to source for those that is a tad easier on the wallet (I’ll fill you in later).
Let me know what you think of my choices! I’m not ordering until tonight (gotta let the the girlfriend peruse the selection first), so you might be able to convince me to get something else (if you really care about what I’m wearing that much, sheesh. Just kidding, I love suggestions).
Anyway, sign up here (http://vnlink.co/SK2IDBd) and shop away! I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Has anyone else tried Frank and Oak? What did you think?