The co-founder of MenWith shares his fashion journey from Instagram to a retailer near you

If you’re going to cut someone’s head off, try t do it with the affectionate gentility that Daniel Frank and the team behind MenWith demonstrate almost every day.

On Instagram accounts like MenWithClass and MenWithStyle, you’ll see some of the best-dressed men on the Internet — but only from the neck down. Their pictures are usually paired with a caption along the lines of, “Love this photo of our dear friend (insert name),” tagging the creator of the original image.

This simple formula — which started in 2015 as one account and has since evolved into many, along with an eponymous digital agency — has amassed more than five million followers on MenWithClass alone. More recently, it has also led to a partnership with a major retailer, H&M, that almost completely subverts the process in which men’s fashions have been designed.

 

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We’re live #MenWithxHM

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This past summer, for example, H&M launched a capsule collection in select stores and online that were all directly inspired by posts shared on MenWith Instagram accounts, based on likes as well as comments and other forms of engagement. This included a knitted roller neck, hoodie, slacks with contrast piping, a plaid scarf, beanie, suede cap and biker jacket.

 

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Tap to shop the #MenWithxHM collection! 🔥 #ad Repost from @lukaszgler

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For Frank, who cofounded MenWith alongside Erik Simmingsköld, the capsule collection represents a tipping point from what started as a hobby and has turned into a more fully developed brand in its own right.

“We had been approached by some brands over the years of doing a design collaboration, and it made a lot of sense to do our first design collaboration with H&M when they approached us,” Frank told Swagger. “They’re one of the global leaders in making fashion and style available for a wide audience, as well as niche consumer groups, which aligns perfectly with our ambition, which is to play a pivotal role in making male style broadly accessible.”

To understand the significance of this collaboration, you might have to revisit a scene from The Devil Wears Prada, the 2006 firm your girlfriend or wife might have made you watch (or that you secretly watched yourself).

Early on, a magazine editor played by Meryl Streep chides her assistant for failing to show an interest in fashion by explaining how the assistant’s choice of a lumpy cerulean sweater was influenced by forces she didn’t fully appreciate. This boils down to: a designer has a grand vision, it goes into stores and eventually inspires cheaper knockoffs.

 

The MenWith partnership, on the other hand, shows how a brand can take its design cues directly from what’s already in market and on the street, and possibly reimagine it or make it easier to obtain.

“Social media platforms overall are already playing a big part in democratizing the whole fashion scene,” Frank says. “We will probably see it go even more in that direction.”

Of course, curation has always been a key aspect in how tastemakers use social media, but MenWith’s activities aren’t limited to scouring Instagram for influencers. Instead, the influencers come to them: Check for almost any men’s style Instagrammer and you’re likely to see MenWith accounts tagged and #menwithstyle or #menwithclass listed under their captions. This means it’s not only the engagement behind the MenWith posts that led to the H&M partnership: you could argue that MenWith and its followers have helped co-create the capsule collection.

 

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Thank you so much everyone that joined our first MenWith event! 🗽 #MenWith

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At a time when a lot of social media results seem to involve paid promotion, in other words, MenWith is showing that “organic” success can transcend likes and shares and turn into real-world impact.

“We always have a lot of ideas, and sometimes [it can a] crazy big one.

This was one of the big possible ideas we had in an early stage, but we knew that we needed to develop a ‘pull factor’ at first, just by building a strong brand and following,” Frank said. “We felt the the rest would come if we did that part right.”

Frank said MenWith is happy with the capsule collection’s products (“We really love the hoodie, such a great fit and cool design,” he says), while for H&M, the collaboration gives instant credibility and relevancy — kind of like when a pop star includes a highly-respected rapper on their next single. And much like when those kinds of duets top the charts, it could mean MenWith continues to build something that takes it far beyond Instagram.

“It feels like we’ve started to create a fully working ecosystem to-do the stuff we love and are passionate about,” he says. “This feels like a breakthrough point.”


Header: Featuring Blake Scott of @BlakeScott on Instagram. (Photo: Courtesy of MenWithCo) 

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