When Jay-Z declared the masses should be on their “grown and sexy,” fitted caps and button downs were immediately implemented as a replacement uniform for the throwback jerseys and baggy jeans. And when Jay got on his well-tailored suit and tie shit, thanks to the help of stylist June Ambrose, the masses followed suit – literally. It’s safe to say that when it comes to the hip-hop game, the Brooklyn native is a trendsetter.
But the key thing about Jay-Z’s formulated wardrobe seems to be his ability to play strong messages into seemingly innocent articles of clothing, and he proved that yet again when he stepped out in a “Blame Society” t-shirt while on date night in NYC with Beyonce. Alas, we needed to know more about the masterminds behind the double entendre t-shirt slogan.
Check out what the pair had to say below.
Let’s start off with a little background about your line and when you started designing frank & jan:
We are a husband and wife team based in Los Angeles. We started frank & jan in 2007 after we both grew disenchanted with our 9-5 jobs in marketing. After 10 years working in the apparel industry for other brands, frank had decided to give it a shot on his own. At that time, jan was working at Yahoo! and before “YOLO” was an actual term, we decided to say fuck it and cashed out her 401k to fund f&j.
Though we paid heavy financial penalties in cashing out early, it was one of the best decisions we ever made. We knew we liked t-shirts and felt like we each had an eye for design, so we decided to just go for it. It was really born from necessity and the desire to create t-shirts we wanted to wear. Since that time, we have grown beyond a brand, to a full service design and production house that quietly works with some of the biggest names in the industry.
The t-shirt designs clearly push the envelope, so let’s talk about the thought process behind slogans that read “raise rebels not sheep” and “blame society.” They’re clearly loaded messages.
We certainly do push the envelope. As for those two particular phrase tees, Raise Rebels was actually an idea that came from our friend, Josh Madden. He suggested it last year and we finally got around to putting that tee out this season. That said, we have a daughter, “baby jan” that is quite the rebel in her own right. As for Blame Society, it’s pretty simple – a finger pointing of sorts. If you blame society, you are society, so who’s really to blame? – thus the actual name for the design is Blame Game. In addition to our knack for phrase tees, we also work with some amazing photographers and illustrators. Definitely well rounded.
What is the mindset of your target demographic?
Unlike most brands, I’m not sure we have a specific target demographic. Our line has lived in retail accounts in Japan, Colette in France, Urban Outfitters, KarmaLoop and so on. There’s no theme or box we fit into as a brand. The designs are all nods to our own mentality and nostalgia. From the interactions we’ve had with our customer base online, we can tell you they’re savvy (Internet and otherwise), a little rebellious and definitely share our humor. They are also very sarcastic.
What was your reaction when Jay was spotted in your design? How did you find out?
We had just woken up and saw a couple of @ messages on Twitter referencing Jay-Z and frank & jan so after pouring the morning cup of coffee, we followed the links and there he was walking with Bey wearing our tee! I believe the reaction was something like: Holy Sh*t!!! After the initial shock wore off, the feeling was surreal and gratifying. And not really because of the celebrity aspect of it, but just that he liked it enough to wear it on a random Sunday movie date with his wife.
How did he get his hands on the T-shirt?
A few years back we were featured on his site. We were so honored to be asked for an interview, we decided Jay needed every design we ever made. So that’s what we did – we literally reprinted 1 of every design from our archive specifically for him. Apparently he still has a few…
Who are some other celebs you’d want to see in your shirts, and celebs that you would not want to see wearing your brand?
We don’t have a list of celebs either way…. it’s really for whoever connects with the brand and wants to wear it. But we would not be mad at Mrs. Carter herself wearing f&j. 😉