Co-founder Erik Torstensson: ‘I don’t want Frame to be a hype brand’

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Since the birth of Frame, Erik Torstensson, co-founder and creative director, has always envisioned the clothing line becoming a lifestyle destination. In the decade since its debut, it has expanded beyond a denim-focused assortment to include a wide variety of clothing and accessories.

“I don’t think there is an enormous urgency to Frame, and I like that,” Torstensson said on the latest Glossy Podcast. “I don’t want Frame to be a hype brand, necessarily.” Frame projected $200 million in annual revenue for 2021.

Frame’s designs are inspired by the men and women who surround Torstensson. Recently, he has drawn inspiration from his two step-daughters, Bella and Ava, and girlfriend, Natalie Massenet, co-founder and managing partner at Imaginary Ventures. Torstensson expressed his self-awareness in understanding that, as a straight, 40-year-old white man, there are many aspects of women’s fashion he does not know. 

Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.

Failing and growing
“I was always told, ‘No, don’t do this,’ which triggered me to try to do [everything]. I haven’t always done it in a successful way, maybe never. Everyone told me, ‘Don’t take pictures, because you’re not a director,’ ‘Don’t design a pair of jeans or do a fashion brand because you’re not a fashion designer,’ and ‘Don’t edit the magazine, you’re not an editor.’ You don’t have to like it, but I’m going to try it. It’s very Nike ‘Just do it,’ and sometimes we fail. That’s OK. But no one’s going to remember the person who waited… We tried to start this little brand at one point called Grace. We had hubris from starting Frame, and it was a little black dress brand. We always say it wasn’t a failure, but we learned so much from that. So there’s almost no failure. Not trying is the failure, in my opinion. [I’m] humbly learning.”

The difference between menswear and womenswear
“The question is always, ‘Would you wear it, and how are you going to wear it?’ When we relaunched menswear, I photographed guys of all sexualities, nationalities, sizes, ages and different professions. I asked them to style themselves because the whole idea is that, for men, it’s more [about] style, and for women, it’s more [about] fashion. Men are like, ‘Dress your character,’ and for women, I just try to learn and listen.” 

The business of collaborations
“The third [part of Frame] is collaborations, which I love. That’s [where our] energy [comes from]. Brands need energy at all times. Also, newness and getting people to play with your DNA is really fun. When we first launched, we were lucky enough to have a collaboration with Karlie Kloss. Maybe sadly, but [we work with] friends and family. It’s literally about having fun together. I always say, ‘Is it work if you have fun with your friends?’ That brings energy and newness to the brand in a way that is unexpected.”

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