Hype Reimagined: A Conversation with Frankie Collective
In a world where mass-consumption reigns supreme and big-box retailers flourish, Frankie Collective arises as a breath of fresh air. Located in an industrial warehouse space in Vancouver, the Canadian e-commerce retailer, Frankie Collective, is changing the landscape of vintage fashion. We took a visit to their studio and met with the talented team behind some of most hyped & coveted repurposed looks.
Frankie Collective has quickly established itself as the authority of reworking the best of 90s vintage sportswear and streetwear. From their latest Supreme drop and their Adidas mesh bodysuits to their reinterpretation of the famous Glossier makeup bag, Frankie Collective’s creative approach to streetwear has provided inspiration for hype-gals & industry figures alike.
We sat down with Frankie Collective’s creative director, Sara Gourlay, to hear more about her artistic approach to design, trend forecasting, and what's to come for the brand.
Does Frankie Collective strengthen the vintage marketplace or disrupt it?
I think our brand strengthens the vintage marketplace. We bring vintage to a wide audience that would maybe not otherwise be exposed to it. Hopefully we are the stepping stone people need to get more creative with vintage in their wardrobe.
How is Frankie able to source fabrics and samples that are sourced from highly coveted brands such as Supreme?
Our parent company F as in Frank is owned by Jesse and Drew Heifetz who have been in the vintage game for years and they have the grails to show it. We hustle hard and have vintage pickers all over who are always looking in weird places to uncover gems.
How do you select these brands? Are they selected based on current trends or in hopes of creating future trends?
We do a mix of both. We select brands that are trending as well as present new and upcoming brands. We are always looking to the future and in many cases are showing our girls what’s next.
How do you maintain the Frankie brand identity when working with so many other established labels?
We maintain the Frankie brand identity by creating interesting reworks that stay true to our vision through existing brand labels. How we style these brands is important in keeping up with our aesthetic as well.
Aside from utilizing vintage fabrics, how else does Frankie maintain a sustainable design approach?
Aside from working with vintage fabrics, we also create styles that utilize garments that are damaged with stains or holes that would otherwise end up in a landfill. The scraps left over from our reworks are also recycled and used for things such as insulation. All our production is done locally in Vancouver by our team of girls.
What’s the biggest challenge in repurposing vintage? Is it sourcing, manipulating delicate fabrics, or conceptualizing new designs?
The biggest challenge of repurposing vintage is manipulation of the fabric as every piece is unique. Unlike producing new garments where layers of material can be cut at once, we have to examine every piece for limitations such as damages, logo placements and size of the material. Each piece is cut individually by hand.
From start to finish, how do you and your team turn a vintage t-shirt into a new Frankie garment?
First we create the rework style. We trend forecast and design based on what the Frankie girl wants to wear. We also make designs with the purpose of utilizing materials to reduce waste. We then draft patterns, sew samples, and do fittings on a model. Once the sample is approved the pattern is graded into a size range.
After the vintage is washed I will look at every piece and re-image it into a design and then sort by design. The bundles of clothes are then taken to our sewing studio. The pattern pieces are placed onto each t-shirt individually and then traced, cut and sewn.
Do you think these popular vintage brands like Champion, Adidas, and Tommy Hilfiger, and would be as coveted if it weren’t for social media?
I think these brands would still be popular. Fashion is always repeating itself and it has been this way much before social media was a thing. That being said, social media definitely drives trends much faster—clout is created when influencers post photos in the brand’s clothes.
On a similar note, how has social media impacted Frankie Collective?
Social media has allowed us to reach a worldwide audience and become a leader in women’s streetwear while living in Vancouver. Before social media, you would have had to be based in the bigger fashion cities such as New York or LA.
Frankie frequently receives press from media outlets like HypeBae. Do you keep the HypeBae reader in mind when releasing new collections? Who is the ideal Frankie girl?
We in a way keep the Hypebae reader in mind as like the Frankie girl, she too is strong and empowered. The Frankie girl has a strong attitude. She can wear fitted crops or oversized men’s pieces and rock them with the same confidence. She’s forward thinking with her style as she respects the classics and has an eye for future trends.
If any, what modern brands will still be relevant 20 years from now and ultimately define this decade of streetwear?
Most brands won’t last 20 years except the true fashion houses. Supreme will always be looked upon as the GOAT of streetwear but when we look back at this era in fashion I think we will remember it as the time when high fashion became streetwear.
What is the biggest way that social media has impacted the retail industry?
Social media has created a level playing field as far as fashion influence is concerned. Anyone has the power to influence and fashion has had to adjust to that. We see everything in real-time so social media has sped up fashion to a crazy pace. Trends rise and fall much faster because they get spread all over the interweb in a matter of hours.
For many women, shopping online is a challenge because sizing always varies. How do you combat this?
We list lay flat measurements of every garment to combat sizing issues. When we create rework designs, we make sure that all of our girls try on our samples to try and include as many body types as possible. We make lots of custom orders as well for girls with different measurement requests.
Do you envision a retail space for Frankie in the future?
From working with Complex Con and Tommy Hilfiger, what is in store for Frankie Collective in 2018?
Look out for some more collaborations with heavy-hitting brands as well as a pop-up tour!
What’s your dream partnership?
Working with Nike would be a dream!
Follow Frankie Collective on instagram here.