FrizmWORKS With Joe Sharpe

Joe Sharpe is the Managing Director of Options – a global fashion distributor that connects labels from around the world to European stores. Options is highly respected in the industry and uses its vast expertise to provide a platform for brands to grow in new regions and markets. The company upkeeps the identity of its labels whilst introducing their product to new stores, raising brand awareness in the process. One of Options’ key labels is FrizmWORKS, having brought the brand to the European market leading to it being stocked in our menswear collection at HIP.

FrizmWORKS is centred around new takes on military and laid-back Americana styles – presenting a reliable everyday wardrobe with considered details and quality fabrics.

We caught up with Joe to talk about the process of bringing labels to Europe, the state of Korean menswear and what inspires FrizmWORKS’ version of contemporary style.

What drew you to look to Korea and when did it first come onto your radar?

We first started exploring Korea as a market in 2018, when we were looking for brands which could complement our American brand mix. Ebbets Field Flannels & Pendleton are fantastic brands but sit at the higher echelon of pricing, and we began to search for brands which had a similar aesthetic but a more commercial price point. Korea has always been known for making fantastic quality products and we’ve found Koreans to be progressive and forward thinking in their outlook, but only Eastlogue had really started being noticed in the European market. We saw a massive opportunity, especially given how influential Korean culture has been in the western world over the last few years, to make a name for ourselves and bring some really exciting products to the market. Uniform Bridge became our first brand to onboard, and we haven’t looked back since.

What was the process of bringing FrizmWORKS and other Korean brands to Europe?

This has been the hardest thing to do! The process of persuading FrizmWORKS to work with us took the best part of a year. Their home market is really buoyant, without doubt one of the most exciting globally, so getting them to look at markets so far away is difficult. I think that trust is a huge part of the process, that they trust myself and the company to place their brands in the best stores outside of Asia, which in turn aids growth and perception for them in the home markets. Options is a one stop shop, we look after everything from the logistics of shipping and customs clearance, wholesale, and the brands European social media’s and websites so it does really feel like a European head office for the brands. We allow them to concentrate on making great products and content, and we take care of the rest. I’d like to think it was worth all the hard work! 

How is the brand perceived in its home country?

FrizmWORKS is perceived to be a growing and exciting brand in Korea. It’s got a reputation for providing extremely high quality product which also represents great value. You’ll see FrizmWORKS worn in Korea from the likes of famous movie stars and sportsman to your less engaged shopper who wants to wear something long lasting and well designed. With the help of being stocked in the likes of HIP and the European stores we work with, FrizmWORKS has continued to grow in Korea and gain respect for its worldwide recognition. 

Where does FrizmWORKS draw inspiration from?

FrizmWORKS draws inspiration from both Military and Vintage pieces, and reinterprets them in a modern way. I think the way An Jong Hyuk, the designer and owner of the brand, creates products is really fantastic. He really designs for the customer, he’ll use the best fabrics he can, and really knows how to translate the brand to a European demographic. You’ll see it particularly in the new collection, which he’s labelled ‘Concentration’ – designed to make it as relevant as possible for the market here. 

Are there any other key style trends you have noticed in Korean menswear?

The Korean menswear market is really interesting to see, especially when you go and visit Seoul. I would say generally there seems to be a trend there towards clean menswear coming through from the likes of Andersson Bell, but predominantly we saw a huge shift towards Americana, varsity & military inspired products, really interpreted in a Korean way to show a more oversized, relaxed fit. There is not a huge amount of colour in the products, a lot of Black, Military Green & Navy is consistent. I think the post-sneaker era is really coming through in Korea, we saw a huge amount of Paraboot worn over there!

Follow Joe here and FrizmWORKS here.

FrizmWORKS SS23 at HIP – Online now.