Can Frame Denim Be a Fashion Brand?

angels – There’s probably no better place to see Hollywood in action than the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel on a Friday morning at 9am. The team behind denim brand Frame (co-founder and creative his director Erik Torstensson and his CEO Nicolas Dreyfus) find themselves in a kind of lacquered place. Wood booth in the center.

Nicky Hilton Rothschild walks in with a Birkin and is soon joined by her friend, Oscar de la Renta designer Fernando Garcia. Ben Schwerin, senior vice president of content at Snapchat walked out with Bob Iger just days before it was announced that he was retiring to rejoin Disney as CEO. Torstensson and Dreyfus nod and exchange greetings. Soon, RXBar founder Peter Rahal is standing at the table, trying to show off the tag on his shirt. He wears the frame from head to toe, he says, and Torstenson is delighted.

“I couldn’t have arranged it better,” he laughs.

Rahal’s impromptu appearance fits neatly into Torstensson’s carefully crafted narrative. Frame, a premium denim venture he started with Jens Grede in 2013 when consumers were more interested in lululemon leggings than jeans, was not only successful, but thriving, and a no-nonsense denim brand. It has become a lifestyle brand rooted in denim. .

Now, Tortenson is looking for fashion authenticity and has hired a yet-to-be-named designer (a European heavyweight) to give the collection a true identity in 2023. Can Dreyfus and Torstensson go where no denim brand has ever been before, namely outside of Los Angeles? And LA, in terms of technology and modernity,” could be “the most exciting thing in American fashion,” if it’s done right.

Financially, Frame Denim is solid. In 2022, the company will generate about $170 million in sales, a 50% increase from his pre-pandemic levels. (The company declined to share his 2021 figures.) Profitability on an EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) basis saw e-commerce sales triple. As a result, it has increased by more than 90% since 2019. (The business is now generating 30% of revenue through direct-to-consumer channels, up from 20% pre-pandemic.)

After co-founding (and selling) French contemporary brand The Kooples in March 2020, despite a difficult economy, Dreyfus is confident Frame can continue to build its talent bench in Los Angeles. increase. Not only in the United States, but also internationally.

Torstensson attributes Frame’s early success to his and Grede’s slightly unorthodox approach to date. In 2012, the London-based creative duo, best known as marketers for his agency The Saturday Group, chose to embrace a tired concept rather than dive into the hot categories. . Premium denims such as J Brand and Diesel dominated his 2000s fashion, but most of those brands (mainly run by manufacturers rather than brand builders) have been optimistic as consumers transition to athleisure. I couldn’t stay in a corner of my head.

Torstensson and Grede led the brand, introducing the standard skinny jeans (the de facto silhouette of the time) but positioning them as the supermodel’s friend’s choice. (A pair of super elongated flares in collaboration with Karlie Kloss in 2015 were an early win.)

Ten years later, the jeans are still selling well, accounting for half of the company’s overall revenue. Items such as silk blouses and satin mini skirts are also available.

“They’ve built a strong brand around timeless versatility,” says Pete Nordstrom, president and chief brand officer of his family’s eponymous department store chain, noting that the frame added that it provides a “core piece” for the wardrobe of The line “always feels relevant”.

Much of it has to do with the early frameworks established by Torstensson and Grede. Frame wasn’t about a particular style of jeans, it was about his style of life. After an initial misfire in which his first attempt focused too much on denim, Torstenson said relaunching his men’s collection was a risk, but it paid off. As a full-fledged stand-alone line, it still accounts for a small percentage of sales — Frame didn’t disclose that amount.

For many, the obvious next step is to sell the company as soon as the market tilts in their favor, or if the right deal is made. Grede and his wife, Emma, ​​now help run his Kardashian empire by managing Skims and Good American, so he’s less involved on a daily basis. Dreyfus, who sold The Kooples to Lacoste owner Maus Frères in 2019, is the kind of executive who could help set up Frame for such a deal.

But Torstenson insists a sale isn’t the goal. “We definitely don’t want to sell the business,” he says. Instead, he’s dedicated to building his Frame Denim by continuing to act like a denim brand.

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