Frank & Oak’s “Oak Street” magazine is a lesson in both broad and niche

Northeast of Montreal’s city center in a trendy neighborhood known for its stylish boutiques lies the headquarters for a fashion/tech startup called Frank & Oak. The startup integrates design and technology for the purpose of helping men buy the clothes and accessories they crave at reasonable prices. Though the men’s lifestyle brand came into a digital world, they’ve recently put their brands in customer’s hands to create their own printed branded publication, simply known as Oak Street.

Oak Street is a biannual magazine from Frank & Oak’s in-house team that aims to cover the intersection between “work, culture, and community.” The men’s lifestyle brand takes a page from the likes of GQ and Esquire to create more straightforward editorial for its other content marketing, but its magazine is something else entirely. With themed issues centering on creativity and culture, it covers beyond the standard fashion editorial to include subjects like business, travel, fashion, art, community, design. The result is a branded publication that feels both broad and niche all at once.

Oak Street via Sachlin Bhola

The ideal Oak Street reader is among the stylish and sophisticated crowd of young professionals in creative fields—like ad agencies and tech startups—living the urban life in cities like New York and San Francisco. Whether they’re Frank & Oak customers or not, Oak Street wants to appeal to them. Like any good lifestyle magazine, the editorial appeals to men of a certain age that depict a lifestyle their readers can aspire to in a niche magazine.

Most importantly, Oak Street is not a catalogue. Instead it’s an editorial featuring their favorite products—many of which include some product placement from Frank & Oak—but clothing and accessories that fit in with the theme of the issue that they’d recommend to any stylish reader. The fashion brand’s CEO Ethan Song in an interview with AdWeek says, “Our goal at Frank & Oak is always to be a trusted advisor, in part by creating immersive and informative content.”

Oak Street via Sachlin Bhola

Oak Street is printed onto 100-plus pages of thick paper stock and available for $12 USD and CAD at a variety of independent locations around the US and Canada. MediaBistro lists their circulation numbers at about 60,000 copies per issue while other reports claim 15,000 and 40,000 copies for the first and second instalments, respectively. Though no numbers have been released about the magazine’s revenue, Song says that they do generate money and that it’s “not very costly for us to produce.”

With an emphasis on the construction and layout of the physical magazine, Frank & Oak are betting big on tangible. As Song says to CNN, “We don’t see it as advertising. We see it as a product—an extension of the brand.”

What we can learn

  • Content should be treated as an equal to a company’s product. Song says of Frank & Oak’s approach to branded publications, “Frank & Oak is a products company, and this magazine falls in line with the products we create–it just happens to be content. Regardless of what it is that we’re making, we’re always focused on the user experience. Oak Street is another signal to our customers and followers that we care, and we want to continue to build a relationship with them.”
  • Remember: content marketing is an extension of the brand and given equal respect to the product. In fact, content is a product.
  • The medium matters, but it is not “going backwards” for brands that pride themselves on technology. Contrary, print magazines can blend tradition and innovation seamlessly. As Song puts it, “Everything we do—be it our website, products, or partnerships—is about combining technology, creativity, and innovation, while maintaining respect for tradition and craft.”

Image credit: Oak Street

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