I was pondering the aesthetic in men’s fashion recently, and noticed on my Instagram feed that I’ve come to appreciate some of the asymmetrical looks of late. Not everything has to be mirrored on both sides of any centre, as long as it is tastefully done. Similarly, no clothing retailer has to follow the exact same business model.
These thoughts crossed my mind recently when we received our invitations to the Frank & Oak flagship store pre-launch party in Gastown, Vancouver’s fashionable garment district and a great urban trend spotting site. This upscale men’s clothier, the formerly online-only company is set to open its doors to the public in historic Gastown, allowing clients and new customers to directly engage with them in Vancouver.
Frank & Oak have turned heads with their mix of casual styles, but manufactured and served to buyers using elements formerly exclusive only to luxury couture houses. We tied this week’s opening party for an unorthodox, innovative company with a similarly asymmetric yet chic knot, the Diagonal Knot in a classic Brooks Brothers cravat.
The Diagonal knot is both simple yet difficult at the same time. The trick is coordination. This doesn’t need a lot of fabric, so lay the tie as you would a conventional Windsor knot, as you’ll be working with the big end. Cross the wide end around the front at the neck, twice. After the second loop around the centre, feed the large end over the anchor point and pull it to your left. You should have an overlapping flap on the left, and you will see the cylinder in the middle. Loosen the centre cylinder a little. Wrap the wide end around the back and feed it – very gingerly! – through the centre cylinder. Be careful not to do this too fast, or the entire tie will unravel. This is a simple step, but doing it wrong will undo all your work. Pull the wide end down the centre. At this point, the little end may start to wander around the front, but use the big end to cover the little one, straighten out the overlapping flap and the centre cylindrical loop, and you’ve tied the Diagonal knot. This works with a slightly thicker as well as a thinner tie (although if your tie is very long, you’ll find the excessive fabric unsightly and will want something more complicated, such as the Viper knot).
Originally from Montreal, Frank & Oak have become popular with a business model that thrives on a variation of vertical integration. They start off with great garments, and send them by mail order to the customer based on preference, size and price point, tailored for the right cut. Any clothing that doesn’t fit can be sent back. They produce their own clothing line and cut out the middleman by selling directly by mail order to the customer. In other words, they turn the traditional fashion retail model on its head by controlling everything from design to production, therefore incorporating the same attention couture ateliers devote to their clients but at more entry-level price points and casual styles. It’s a tweak on conventional commercial fashion activity, done on a mental diagonal (even if it’s more vertical), much like the knot I’m wearing. Frank + Oak’s ingenuity is modeled on combining high-fashion elements in more casual styles for everyday wear.
Frank & Oak are officially launching the new location at Saturday, December 5th at 316 West Cordova. We were fortunate to shoot at their pre-launch event, and congratulate Sophie Desbiens and the team on their new location.
Tie carefully, yours in knotwerk,
(All photographs by Helen Siwak of THEClosetYVR)