A rustic Irish heritage, luxury Italian fabrics, and an age-old love story characterize Audrey McLoghlin’s all-American brand Frank & Eileen. In lieu of the upcoming holiday, your Daily sat down with the designer, whose ultimate ethos is made in the USA, to delve into the history of the brand, find out what it is that makes her oxford shirts one of kind, and more! Modern yet classic, feminine yet relaxed, we can’t think of a better way to outfit ourselves this Independence Day.
BY JULIANNE ZIGOS
Your brand has deep roots in The Emerald Isle. Where does Frank & Eileen’s Americana feel come from?
Frank & Eileen is a story of love, named in honor of my grandparents, who began their love story when they married in Co. Wicklow, Ireland in 1947. My parents also met in Ireland and a few years after they got married they decided to see if they could pursue the American dream and move to the United States. I was born in Toronto and grew up all over the U.S. We lived in New Jersey, New Orleans, and Atlanta, Georgia, where I went to Georgia Tech and studied engineering.
Wow! Engineering seems a world away from designing a clothing line.
Growing up I always loved math and science and I knew I wanted to go to engineering school, but when I graduated, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to purse it. I moved to Boston and worked for an MIT startup until the dot-com bubble burst and everything changed. I always had a passion for working in retail; as a kid I worked at Gap and J. Crew, and I wanted to learn how to manufacture so I moved to L.A.
What were you doing before the idea for Frank & Eileen was conceived?
In Los Angeles, I opened a women’s specialty store called Una and soon after created a knit line called Aude. When I was working on that, I accidentally found this Italian mill, fell completely in love with it, and decided to start a completely different brand based on this fabric mill.
How often do you visit this inspirational mill?
I go once a year, and when I go there I lock myself in their archive for the better part of the week. The mill started in 1897 and they have these huge old books of every fabric they’ve ever developed since the 1800s. I go through these old, dusty books and then we’ll reproduce fabrics from 1947, for Frank and Eileen’s anniversary, or pick different dates, like 1977, the year I was born.
Why did you choose to focus on the Oxford-style shirt?
When I fell in love with this men’s shirting mill, I saw and loved how classic the fabrics were. I thought, “What if I could take these beautiful fabrics, traditionally made for men, and make them into a sexy women’s shirt that’s very feminine and shows off your figure?” That’s what I would love to wear everyday. So that’s what I set out to do.
Are there other ways that your brand is influenced by your Irish heritage?
Absolutely! We just opened a brand new Los Angeles showroom last month and we built it to look like an old Irish country house. We have a tea bar, that is always serving Irish tea, and we also have Irish beer. Our website is modeled after an old Irish newspaper, and our blog is called Good Craic. Every time they want to talk about having a good time, like a chat or a good laugh they call it ‘good craic.’ In Ireland, it’s all you’ll hear about!
What are some of your key U.S. outposts?
For the first five years we sold only to specialty stores and Barney’s. This year, for our five-year anniversary, we decided to partner with Neiman Marcus as an exclusive major partner and rolled out the women’s collection to all 42 doors. Now they need to do the men’s…
You fabrics are created in Italy, and the shirts are produced in the U.S., have there been challenges to staying made in the USA?
There are two challenges to being made in the U.S. It’s expensive to manufacture domestically and it’s more expensive to manufacture in California. The other challenge is scalability. Everything is much more artisanal and small scale, so it’s been a constant challenge for us to train people how to make our detailed product. But the advantages outweigh the challenges. To be able to provide jobs for Americans, support the economy and pass on the American dream that my parents created for us, that means a lot to me.
What’s your Frank & Eileen uniform, at least in the summer?
I’ve worn Frank & Eileen every day for the past five years! Except for my wedding day. In summer, I wear Frank & Eileen with white J Brand chinos and K. Jacques sandals…pretty much every day.
We love that Frank & Eileen is such an all-American brand. Any tips for the upcoming holiday?
My first tip is to get your red, white, and blue Frank & Eileen—no Fourth of July is complete without one! That and BBQ ribs are the two things you need for a successful Fourth.
We can just see you with your sleeves rolled up enjoying some ribs now!
I would love to be having a BBQ with my husband and Hunter, my Labradodle, in Napa Valley! But I’ll be enjoying Palm Beach, doing a three-day trunk show at the Four Seasons for three days, so I’ll get to work with customers, tell them all about Frank & Eileen, and get everybody else dressed for the Fourth of July.