Frank & Oak has yet to announce the actual street address for the Halifax location, but the Toronto shop was also a bit of a surprise coming as it did immediately in the wake of their Toronto FC soccer-themed pop-up shop on Queen Street West.
The men’s fashion pioneer is already well known for having staked out a unique place in the ecommerce clothing retail space, long before having any physical locations. But lately it’s broken the start-up mould by opting increasingly for a brick-and-mortar existence.
The Frank & Oak website, which allows men no matter where they live to order clothes through the mail, a little like the old Netflix DVD rental service used to function, counts over a million subscribers, processing over 35,000 orders per month.
Frank & Oak has also been getting involved in the real-life fashion world, making their third appearance at New York’s Fashion Week this past September.
A recent Forrester Research report anticipates that online retail will reach $34 billion in Canada by 2018, after hitting the $21 billion mark last year.
With Amazon announcing recently that it intends to open a brick-and-mortar shop on 34th Street in New York, directly across from the Empire State Building, these might appear to be confusing times in tech, with e-tailers opening shops and physical retail heading online.
In fact, while mainstream shops struggle to figure out the world of ecommerce, pure-play online retailers are increasingly looking to complement their online business with a physical presence. The purpose of technology is not, contrary to popular belief, to move every aspect of life into the digital ether, but to make our physical lives easier and more enjoyable.
So while a lot of the tech journalism commentary regarding the Amazon shop uses words like “retro” to describe their move into physical retail, this same impulse strikes Frank & Oak as an absolutely natural evolution, complementing their online service rather than diminishing it.
The future of retail is not an either-or proposition. It’s omnichannel.
“It’s not physical or digital,” wrote consulting firm A.T. Kearney in a recent report. “It’s physical with digital. Having multiple channels is good for business.”
It also remains the fact, despite the inevitable growth of ecommerce, that physical retail still rules. In the United States, only 6.4% of total retail sales, or $75 billion of a total $1,174.1 billion, were carried out online in Q2 2014.
Although the Maritimes may seem a natural fit for the old-school, rugged, seafaring aesthetic favoured by Frank & Oak, the region’s men are probably ready for a little instruction on the finer points of escaping the Trailer Park Boys-type clichés that define us.