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Frank and Oak Showcases Sustainability Through Blockchain

Canadian lifestyle brand Frank and Oak has planted its flag in the Asian market—and its newly launched Shanghai location raises the sustainability benchmark through the integration of experiential blockchain technology.

Situated downtown at the Chinese city’s new Tai Koo Li mall, the store expands upon the certified B Corp’s mission to reduce waste, having been built with components designed for disassembly and reuse. What’s more, the location served as a venue for the launch of Frank and Oak’s winter collection this month, which includes a fully traceable yak sweater and accessories collection.

The luxury yarn for the line was created with China’s UPW, using wool from sustainable textile firm Shokay, which sources directly from Tibetan farmers. Each party involved in the collection has committed 1 percent of their proceeds to grassland conservation in Sichuan, where the yaks are raised. Shokay has also leveraged its relationship with blockchain technology company VeChain in helping Frank and Oak track deep and accurate supply chain data, giving the brand a means of communicating its ethical and sustainable production processes to shoppers.

Certified as a B Corporation in 2019, Montreal-based Frank and Oak’s range of apparel is designed for durability using fibers like organic cotton, hemp, recycled polyester and mulesing-free merino wool, as well as denim made from post-consumer textile waste. By the end of this year, 75 percent of the label’s products will be designed with materials that offer a greater sustainability profile than previous collections, including low-water and low-pesticide fibers, like those derived from the Kapok tree, along with recycled fabrics and trims.

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Frank and Oak's apparel is made largely with recycled, organic and circular inputs.
Shoppers need only scan in-store QR codes trace the supply chain journey of their potential purchases—from farm through factory and finally, to store shelves. Frank and Oak

VeChain, which also serves H&M and sister brand COS, provides companies with a turnkey solution for developing a fully visible ecosystem of sustainable manufacturers, the technology firm said. Blockchain offers the dual benefits of offering upstream providers the collection and management of production evidence, while also giving brands an easily accessible mechanism for communicating provenance insights to consumers. The firm’s VeChainThor blockchain serves enterprise users from all levels with advanced technical features, the technology provider added, noting that the insights are streamlined efficiently and securely.

The Shanghai store opening and blockchain integration represent a part of the brand’s strategy to grow its retail footprint, with stores also opening in the Kitsilano neighborhood of Vancouver, as well as Chicago. Frank and Oak is poised for further brick-and-mortar expansion and e-commerce exploration in China in the new year, backed by parent company Unified Commerce Group, which acquired the brand in 2020.

Under the new leadership, the label has evolved from a “cult favorite brand among male consumers in the tech and startup community” to a full lifestyle brand, offering women’s casuals, intimates, swimwear and sleepwear, Frank and Oak said in a statement. These new categories, launched within the past 12 months, are on track to make up 5 percent of the company’s overall sales in 2022.

As a part of this growth, Frank and Oak’s new store locations will leverage Unified’s newly launched Internet of Packaging (IoP) technology, which supports stores being used as fulfillment centers and other opportunities to streamline operations between e-commerce and physical retail.

The brand’s president, Dustin Jones, said that the fashion industry’s “next generation of global brands are being led by a totally different type of organization.” Speed to market and that cachet of a designer name are bound to fade in importance, he said, and instead be replaced by “purpose, and a tribe of consumers that subscribe to that purpose and serve as daily brand ambassadors.”