Internet-savvy men are running out of excuses for not having a sense of style. Bonobos and Trunk Club have been among the leaders in rethinking men’s retail but since launching in February, Montreal-based Frank & Oak said it’s attracted 200,000 members and is adding 60,000 more every month.
On the heels of that growth, the online men’s retailer is announcing that it has raised $5 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Lightbank, the venture fund founded by Groupon co-founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, and included participation from BDMI, Rho Ventures Canada and Real Ventures.
With the new funding, CEO Ethan Song said the company plans to grow its business development, product and merchandizing teams as well as expand into new product categories.
While many compare it to Bonobos and Trunk Club – both of which also seek to simplify the men’s shopping experience – Song said Frank & Oak really wants to take on the Banana Republics, Gaps and J.Crews of the world.
Similar to online eyewear retailer Warby Parker and t-shirt and accessory maker Everlane, it designs and manufacturers all of its own items. As my colleague Eliza Kern has written about, digital fashion brands take a catalog style approach to retail but leverage new technology (as well as prepaid shipping labels for returns) to appeal to a new consumer.
“Our whole mission is to make shopping really easy for men – and to make it highly accessible for most men,” Song said.
The company, which charges nothing to users who sign up, rolls out a new collection every month and doesn’t price any item over $50. It personalizes through user feedback, preferences and buying patterns.
Members also have the option to join its “Hunt Club,” which enables them to receive a few items every month to try on before paying, as well as free shipping and other perks. The initial cost is free but once a member makes a purchase through the program, they are charged the cost of a shirt (which is credited to their account) during the months that they don’t make a purchase.
Consumers are increasingly becoming comfortable with purchasing apparel online, trying it on at home and then returning what they don’t like. So targeting men with reasonably-priced, Banana Republic-type option makes sense. But even mostly online retailers like Warby Parker and Bonobos have opened offline stores and it will be interesting to see if Frank & Oak follows suit.