Being Friends with Frank: a masterclass in authenticity

Julia, in the Melbourne Showroom / Photography: Jake Roden

We spoke to creative director Julia McCarthy about Friends with Frank’s winter to summertime journey. 

When Julia McCarthy said monochromatic was the way she loved to dress, she said it like someone who revels in the rituals of trend-less simplicity.  

“I find it’s the epitome of chic and it also just simplifies getting dressed every day,” Julia said.

As Melbourne label Friends with Frank’s founder and creative director, Julia’s personal style seems referential to the label’s design principles.

“Our design process pretty much consists of exploring what is a great capsule wardrobe and what that looks like, and then creating those pieces with our take on the classic cut and with quality in mind,” she said.

Indeed, Friends with Frank has an ever-lasting take on fashion; harmonising colour hues and favouring relaxed, timeless silhouettes. And preference for such classic cuts is echoed across the country with the label’s pieces featuring consistently in archetypal fashion magazines, for example.

But despite the long-term relationship with elevated staples, apparel is a relatively new venture. Makers of outerwear until last year when Friends with Frank made its first foray into the world of apparel.

It’s a process of which Julia is really proud.   

“It was obviously a natural progression…but I wanted it to be really considered and make a lot of sense as a brand and then make a lot of sense to the customer as well,” she said.  

“Transitioning into apparel during a pandemic has been the biggest challenge, so not being able to travel… to meet up with new manufacturing partners… but even not being able to travel to get inspiration has been a challenge for me.”

But a silver lining for the label – which designs locally and crafts many of its garments overseas – was sourcing more locally.

This Spring/Summer capsule, of which the first drop has landed, introduces more Melbourne-made pieces including a first step into shirting (dropping October 26). Plus, a bias-cut linen dress available in a zesty apple colourway that solves the case of the missing well-made and effortless summer dress.

THE REECE DRESS | WHITE, APPLE, BLACK | 100% LINEN 

The label’s perennial Cleo rib-knit dress had a similar ideation: 

“I don’t like wearing fitted pieces at all, so I was wanting to bring a knitted piece to the market that had a really beautiful structure that didn’t hug the body but it skimmed the female figure,” Julia said.

And all kinds of bodies have adored the flattering, best-selling Cleo knit… so it’s back without sleeves for Spring/Summer as well as in a tank and skirt. 

THE CLEO SKIRT | SPACE-DYED NAVY | 100% COTTON    
THE SLEEVELESS CLEO DRESS | CARAMEL TWIST | 100% COTTON

In a recent Instagram post, Friends with Frank shared a glimpse into its Brunswick-based manufacturer. A swathe of green linen, stretched out on the cutting table, teased the beginnings of breathable summer bliss.

“Can you guess what we’re making?” the caption read.  

Well, friends of FWF don’t have to wait much longer… Spring/Summer apparel is landing as a bevy of natural fibres and innovative designs: oversized shirts for layering, a cropped take on a trench and light-weight linen trousers in fresh colourways.  

THE CL AS SIC TAILORED TROUSER | IVORY | 100% LINEN

THE DREW TROUSER | COCOA | 100% LINEN
THE WREN SHIRT | BLACK | 100% COTTON BROADCLOTH

It’s been a lockdown labour of love and the new-ish Richmond HQ and showroom still awaits its due visitors. But going through the hard times with the rest of Melbourne has grown the label’s local relationships with fabric suppliers and manufacturers.

“We’ve been able to work really closely with them to bring those pieces to life, which has been exciting.”

FWF Melbourne Showroom / Photography: Jake Roden
FWF Melbourne Showroom / Photography: Jake Roden
FWF Melbourne Showroom / Photography: Jake Roden

Julia’s advice on how to nail a monochromatic look: 

“…wear all one-color but mix it up with textures. So, for example, I would probably wear an all-black look and wear it with our Classic linen trousers…. so there’s a beautiful linen texture there… with an Organic t-shirt, and then our Alfie alpaca knit jumper over my shoulders. So, you’re working in three different textures into one look. I also love pairing our Classic ivory trousers with a fresh white tank or a crisp white shirt…” 

And the finishing touch: 

“…really simple, fine gold jewellery. You can’t really go wrong!”

Julia, in the Melbourne Showroom / Photography: Jake Roden

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