November 2018

In Short

Words: Tristan Ceddia Images: Franks

Whilst visiting New York a few months back, my girlfriend stumbled across these great swim shorts called Franks. While she neglected to return with a pair, she directed me to the Opening Ceremony website, where I could view them online. Drawn in by the simple design of Franks shorts and their great yardages, I decided I needed a pair for summer. After Google failed to grant me any more information on the brand, I got a friend visiting the States to pick me up a pair. To my surprise, Franks ended up to be a local label from Melbourne and stocked all around Australia. Knocking on summers door, I visited Franks founder Tim Garbis and art director Patrick Crea to find out more about the brand.

Tristan Ceddia: Franks look like they would be found in a boutique in the south of France. When you started designing shorts did you see a calling in the Australian market for classic beach shorts?

Tim Garbis: I have been to the south of France recently, and they do have classic beach shorts in a lot of boutiques, although I didn’t come across a beach short that focused on the youth market like we do.

But yes, I saw a calling in the Australian market, I saw a need for a swim short as an alternative to the typical surfers board short. Not every guy is a surfer, so why should they have to wear surfers shorts. I wanted to provide a short for the type of guy who parties by a pool or on a boat or needs some light weight shorts to kick around in on a summers day.

TC: What is your background? Have you always had a keen eye for fashion?

TG: I come from a marketing background, though like most Australians I love the beach and I love the sun. I’m not really a fashion type person I just know what I like. My philosophy with fashion has always been about quality, something different and a good price point. I like designs to come from a creative place and love to see an art influence in designs.

TC: Your business model is straight forward – strong graphics on quality swimming shorts. Do you have plans to expand into other areas of clothing?

TG: Not really. I want to keep my offering pure. I want to be known for what I offer and be a leader in what I do. You can’t be good at everything. I think you need to do something well, be known for it and build trust in your consumer following. Too often brands confuse the consumer as they don’t make it clear to them what the brand stands for.

TC: What is the story behind the name Franks?

TG: My grandfathers name was Frank, he was English and lived in India. He spent a lot of his time on the beach there. I see a lot of myself in him, I love to travel, I love the tropics and I wanted to emulate what he was about with the brand. On the flip-side Franks is also very Australian, being frank is an attitude that resonates through the mindset of Australians.

TC: Along with stores across Australia, Franks are stocked in stocked in high end boutiques around the world including Opening Ceremony in New York, Wood Wood in Berlin and Boutique 1 in Dubai. How have you gained this international distinction?

TG: I launched into these markets this year. It has been an organic growth, although it’s always been part of my plan to expand into offshore markets.

TC: Franks cater to a northern market. In other words, your shorts are available overseas six months before they are available here in Australia. Does this help you keep ahead of Australian market?

TG: I actually see Australia as market leaders in swimwear. Overseas they get our shorts six months earlier though this is only due to their summer falling before ours.

TC: You work closely with your friend Patrick Crea who designs all of the graphics for Franks. What is his background?

TG: Patrick studied Fashion at RMIT. He has his own label called Rest In Peace and is a brilliantly talented person. He is a real asset to my company and is the backbone of the art direction. I focus more on sales and distribution. We work as a team, there is a good mix of skills between us that create a healthy balance. Running a fashion business is a lot more than design, it’s distribution, finance, marketing and a lot of mundane stuff that needs to be rock solid so you can deliver what you’re promising.

TC: Heavy emphasis is placed on your graphics to reinvent each range. The latest range comprises of hand drawn/painted yardages. What do you guys draw on for inspiration?

TG: We draw on lifestyle imagery, architecture, photography and graphic art. Our motivation is to create something new and different. I’m not a great fan of just recycling the past and writing it off as retro – design needs have elements of something completely new and relevant.

TC: Do you find that you are watching global trends or are your ideas emerging from elsewhere?

TG: Our seasons colour palate is partly derived from a global trend but also inspired locally. Our prints, however, are completely original, they derive from our own think tank and every print has been hand drawn. We do watch global trends even though our ideas are home grown.

TC: Where do you see Franks in the future?

TG: Last season we were heavily into geometric designs. Designs drawn in Illustrator. I saw a swing away from that kind of artwork and a swing back to hand drawn home grown art. We saw an opportunity to draw the whole collection by hand and in contrast to last year the progression has worked out brilliantly.

Franks

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