Photo Credit: The Frock
Founders of The Frock NYC: Chaya Chanin and Simi Polonsky-Hoffman.

Every woman shares the desire to have a wardrobe filled with pieces that, regardless of the occasion, will always feel chic. On a daily basis, I struggle to find the perfect balance between dressing casually for running around with four kids and teaching my students, and dressing in a put-together, stylish way that represents my strength as a woman. It’s a hard task to balance the two, but thankfully more brands are trying to make that possible.

One brand that has been delivering quality clothes with the intention of giving women this balance is The Frock. The Frock was started in 2010 when sisters Chaya Chanin and Simi Polonsky-Hoffman decided to share their unique fashion sense, which was influenced by the easygoing surf culture of the beaches of Sydney, Australia, and their upbringing in an Orthodox Jewish home there.

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Their clothing has an easy-to-wear vibe with a high-end aesthetic. The design duo offers a refreshing take on versatile essentials that are both distinctive and seemingly effortless. To view and purchase their gorgeous modest pieces, visit https://thefrocknyc.com.

Michal Goldfein: What inspired you and your sister to start your brand?

Simi Polonsky-Hoffman: When my sister Chaya and I started our brand, our initial vision was to create clothing for ourselves that we thought was impossible to find. There was a huge gap in the market, and it was difficult to find clothes that had sleeve lengths that covered the elbows as well as dresses that covered the knees. We were very interested in fashion, and loved a high-end aesthetic that wasn’t at a high price point. At the time, we had a consignment business, and many of our customers would say, “We love this dress but can we add length here?” or “We wish it had a higher neckline.” We decided to just make dresses the way we envisioned them, incorporating our clients’ needs. That was the impetus behind our brand.

How would you describe the aesthetic of your brand?

We have designed clothing that provides full coverage that doesn’t compromise on style, affordability, and wearability. The whole idea is that the connection between fashion and modesty is seamless. I also want someone who is interested in a modest look to be able to have clothes that they don’t have to layer. Additionally, I want a woman who may not necessarily dress modest to love our pieces because they fit in with a modern woman’s lifestyle. I want that woman to be able to wear our clothes as well.

It’s really special that you work with your sister. Do you share the same fashion sense?

We are so blessed that we have a really strong relationship. Of course, we are human beings and sisters so we do have our kinks. Chaya and I are so different; she’s calmer and I’m much more high-energy. We usually have a complementary discussion with each other. We’ve definitely evolved and grown a lot; we have learned how to communicate with each other for the betterment of our company. We have an amazing time together and I couldn’t imagine doing it without her.

You grew up in Sydney, Australia. How would you say the environment and atmosphere influenced your aesthetic?

It definitely influenced us! We grew up in a suburb called Coggee. When we moved to the Chabad community in Crown Heights, we definitely had a different approach to style which incorporated a lot of layering. Many people gravitated towards us and our style but didn’t necessarily know how to incorporate that style into their wardrobe. They thought, “We want a little bit of what you are having.” It’s an honor that we were chosen to be in the position that we are in. Our attitude is that we are here to bridge a gap between our spirituality and our creativity. We want to make the clothing that we see in the magazines attainable. We want to incorporate our spirituality with what we want to wear. Thankfully it’s been received so well and is vastly growing.

Modesty means different things to so many people. It’s amazing that you want to give people more options. Can you describe your design process?

It comes from an innate sense of what we are missing from our wardrobes. When I say “we,” I’m talking about my friends, my mom, and my mom’s friends. Today there’s a lot of fashion and modest fashion available. We want women to be able to reach into their closets with ease and not have to think about what they are going to wear or how it’s going to hold up throughout the day. We want our clothes to be trans-seasonal, modest, and to be able to be worn to different occasions. We take into account the lifestyles of our clients and what women want.

What do you think about fast fashion?

When I design our clothing I want people to wear it for a long time, so often we will design pieces that already go with what we have designed for past seasons. I’ll even introduce the same silhouette that they wore three years ago in a different fabric or bring it out in different colors so women can have more options.

I love your shirt dress and the customized tee; how would you recommend dressing up those pieces?

I think if you want to dress up a more basic piece, you can add a dressier flat or heeled shoe.

What have you learned from the challenges that you have faced?

The biggest thing that I’ve learned is that challenges are such a blessing. I realized that if we make mistakes we can only learn from them. If we hadn’t made mistakes in the past – for example, a huge fabric order that went wrong – I would never know how to be more precise about choosing and ordering fabrics. Every mistake I’ve made has given me an opportunity for growth. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s OK to slow down, and that no one’s trajectory of growth is the same. It’s enabled me to be much calmer and have greater foresight when I make decisions.

What are your favorite pieces from your line?

I would say our original slip dress. I’ve always felt that the popular 90s slip dress had so much ease to it, and I wanted to create that in a modest way. It’s perfect for every season, and I could wear it to a gala dinner with heels, and then come home and pair it with a pair of sneakers.

What would you say is your favorite part about running your business?

I am so thankful that I am able to release my creativity. I have taken cloth and dresses, and taken it beyond just what we wear – it’s evolved into a community of women I’ve met whom I’m constantly inspired by. I am blessed to say that I have a job that allows me the freedom to do what I love, make an impact, and receive the impact of other inspiring women every single day.

What are your goals for the future of your brand?

I want our voice, which is “I’m a woman and this is what I want to wear and how I feel comfortable and happy,” to continue to inspire the global community as a whole. It’s not just about clothing, so if I can continue to share my truth and story and it empowers others to be themselves and the best version of themselves, then the sky’s the limit in the ways we can grow. I want to keep connecting to women and help them be themselves.

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