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Some relationships are just meant to be: Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra… and Frank and Eileen McLoghlin. That last one was the inspiration for T-shirt company Frank & Eileen, started by their granddaughter Audrey McLoghlin in 2009.
When McLoghlin was looking for branding to introduce her T-shirts to the world, she turned to Andrew Egan, founder of branding and advertising agency CoolGraySeven in New York City. He was so impressed by one of her shirts he instantly asked, “Does that come in men’s sizes?” he recalls. That mutual appreciation for fashion marked the beginning of yet another fated relationship that transformed yet another T-shirt brand into a celebration of heritage. Says Egan, “We realized we were the perfect fit.”
An Ode to Ireland
Fashion wasn’t the only thing McLoghlin and Egan had in common. He says “We both have an Irish heritage, and when I started working with her, it was clear that it was something that was really important to her.” Not only is the company named after McLoghlin’s grandparents (wed in Ireland in 1947), but the names of all the shirts are derived from McLoghlin’s other relatives as well. It was important to incorporate that heritage into the branding. “We’ve put an Irish slant on things,” Egan admits.
Case in point: Any good Irishman knows that tea is the panacea for all of life’s woes. So Frank & Eileen launched a collection of T-E-A shirts, he explains. To convince fashion lovers that these “tea-shirts” were something special, CoolGraySeven came up with a unique way to package them: inside tea tins, which “made the shirts more of a gift item.”
Wrapped around each tin is a generic label that reads “The Irish celebrate everything with a cup of tea.” A secondary label acts as a seal and displays the shirt size and color. They chose matte paper for the labels because “we like everything to have a slightly toothy feel so that it has a tactile quality,” Egan says. “We were trying to do something that would make people take notice.”
A Whimsical Touch
The Irish influence was woven into other elements of the branding, too. Washing instructions for the shirts read, “Put the kettle on, make a cup of tea, put your shirt in the washing machine.” Likewise, the shirts, made of the best Italian fabrics, include a tag that says, “Born in Ireland, woven in Italy, made in sunny California with love.”
A series of catalogs that launched last year feature images of three red-haired models frolicking in Mexico. “Again, it went back to the idea of the Irish, kind of Celtic look,” says Egan.
Other elements created by CoolGraySeven include an eCommerce website and store design/merchandising concepts for a Frank & Eileen retail shop in Tokyo, of all places. The studio also created a logo with a heart that declares, “Love, Friendship, Loyalty” – a riff on the traditional Irish Claddagh ring — which once again goes back to the company’s brand values.
Tying everything back to the McLoghlin family’s rich heritage and familial love has given the brand not only an air of continuity and a unique voice, but it also lets customers feel like they, too, are a part of something larger — an extended family, perhaps.
“It’s all about the story of love,” says Egan. “Love is essentially what generated the brand in the first place: Frank’s love for Eileen.”
- Paper for labels: ProTac Uncoated PSA Label w/splits
- Laura Howell, art director
- Andrew Egan, executive creative director
- Christopher Westendorf, interactive designer
- CoolGraySeven, ad agency
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