Get in the frame for the fashion market

Paul Mellor on how his start-up developed a range of optical frames that appealed to opticians and high street retailers alike

We conceived eyewear brand Originals with the idea of developing our own fashion brand. The concept began in east London’s Brick Lane in 2008 and by now the initial phase of the project is complete.

We set up Mellor & Scott Design as a multidisciplinary group, handling product design, packaging, furniture, graphic and digital design and, with medical products a part of our repertoire, eyewear has been a cornerstone of our project work from day one.

It was a logical step to develop our own eyewear brand using all our skills and designing sunglasses has become a major part of the work undertaken in our studio.

We found inspiration for the range of nine optical frames we have designed, developed and manufactured in the music, art and cultural hot bed of our local area – Shoreditch in east London.

The collection is aimed at fashion-focused 15- to 34-year-olds who always want to be on to the next big thing before it happens.We like to think that it has its finger firmly on the pulse of what’s hot right now.

It was lovingly and painstakingly created – it took nearly 12 months to get each of the frames perfect, so that customers could buy a little bit of east London without being there.

As part of our promotions for the range we are sponsoring a number of UK bands and singers, some of whom are wearing the Originals frames on our website, which features a pop-out record player playing a mix of tracks while the customers browse the Internet.

Predominantly based in Brick Lane, the musicians include Kal Lavelle (who is releasing her single this summer) and Kerry Leatham (pictured below) with her album Stories from The Self Obsessed, which is also due for release this summer.

We are also in talks with a couple of the UK’s biggest pop music heavyweights about a partnership between their music and Originals. We have purposely chosen to follow bands and artists who are at the start of their musical careers or are household names already so we can grow together and introduce the brand to as many potential customers as possible.

Since the brand launched in Milan, Originals has continued to generate serious interest on the high street and discussions continue with a number of established UK and European high street stores.

The range initially launched as a collection of optical frames, generating interest mainly from retail opticians.

However, a larger than expected number of fashion stores are expressing an interest in purchasing the collection as a fashion accessory. We’ve been surprised by this, but with the geek chic trend running so heavily at the moment, we expect to see the interest grow rapidly. We have grand plans for the future, too. With the current strong interest from retailers to stock the brand, sales and brand exposure is set to increase rapidly.

We are planning to grow our support of new music, have a bigger presence at gigs and concerts and promote Originals at summer festivals. We feel that, with the current level of interest and on-the-street support, we can grow the brand quickly, enabling us to reach as many customers as possible.

Work has already started on the next range of frames to support the 2010 collection, so hopefully we will increase the size and scope of our offering in time for next year.

Ride the geek chic wave

  • Take inspiration for your products in the culture of your local area – especially if it is somewhere suitably fashionable like east London
  • Consider sponsoring new and established bands and singers to create exposure for your range
  • Promote your products at gigs and summer festivals
  • Court the high street fashion store market, which could bring you a far bigger audience

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