Tradition meets innovation with Oscar Deen

By Bombinate

Founded by good friends Oscar Phillips and Sheriff-Deen Showobi, eyewear brand Oscar Deen was born from a desire to collaborate, create and share. The two founders spend weeks, sometimes even months scouting, re-designing, modernising and adding their very OD touch to the frames they hunt down. Every pair of Oscar Deen glasses is crafted using carefully sourced materials by the best manufacturers. The acetate frames are handmade by artisans at the historical family-run Mazzucchelli factory in Italy, who've been perfecting their trade since 1849. The Italian acetate glasses are then accompanied by CR-39 coated lenses to offer not only style but optimal protection from the sun.

Did you know? Every pair of frames comes with a recycled leather case, handcrafted by the co-founders themselves. We've sat down with the Oscar and Sheriff-Deen to learn more about their journey so far and the road ahead.

Founders Oscar Phillips and Sheriff-Deen crafting leather cases in their London workshop

What's the biggest inspiration behind your designs?

SD: Every collection is inspired by a pair of classic vintage frames and influenced by the journey of finding them. This summer’s collection is inspired by two particular frames. Both made in the 1950’s, originally his and hers Safety frames. The Oscar Deen colour palette borrows a lot from what’s around us – especially things that naturally interact with light or are translucent. Like street lights reflected in the river, honey, jasmine tea against porcelain, olives and leather... all sorts.

What's your favourite pair of OD sunglasses?

O: This is such a tough question! One of the luxuries of building your own sunglasses brand is that every morning I get to decide from the entire collection which pair to wear! At the moment I'm definitely in love with Morris in smoke, I guess it's because they're our new babies and they look so slick.

SD: Unlike Oscar, I’m happy to choose a favourite from the kids. Mine is Fraser in Mocha. It's the first style we made, I love the acetate and they make me feel cool.

Oscar Phillips, co-founder of Oscar Deen

What's been the best trip you've been on together?

SD: Our trip to Turin in Italy, really stands out. The city was beautiful and had such a nice pace to it but the best part was the hunt. We went from vintage shops to markets and had no luck finding any frames, and then we started hearing rumours about a guy that had a collection. Bit by bit, we got closer and closer and eventually found this eccentric Italian bloke who had a spot in an odd cavernous space with no windows. The collection was amazing though, he talked us through each pair so passionately. It took a couple of days to find him and it's the perfect example of how finding frames is often a case of following our noses – having a laugh along the way.

What is it like working together?

O: Luckily for us, it’s great. We’ve known each other for a long time and we trust each other's experiences, knowledge and instinct. Our positions are quite fluid, each taking the lead on various projects whilst handing things over when one or the other runs out of steam. That said, we work on most things together which is what makes it so fun.

How long does it take to create a pair of OD sunglasses from design to final pair?

SD: Including the hunt, I’d say about a year or so. We go on trips together to search for our frames and inspiration, come home and then begin to sift through what we’ve found. We then both begin to sketch the frames ourselves and bounce ideas off each other as to how we think we should adapt them, once we're happy with that, we have them made into technical drawings. We see how those look and request changes if we feel the need. After this, we play about with lens and acetate combinations on lightboxes we had made. This part is great fun but it's hard to choose between all the amazing acetates and lens combos.

What does quality mean to you?

O: To us, quality means sourcing the highest quality, tactile and satisfying to handle materials and combining them with a design that is aesthetically pleasing, functional and structurally sound. We want our customers to feel excited when they feel a pair of OD's as if they’ve discovered the best-kept secret, and we know that quality and detail have this effect.

Have you been watching/listening to anything you've been loving lately?

O: After persistent recommendations from Sheriff I’ve finally got into Afro beats, which has been great. Perfect music to bubble along to whilst working and not really being able to go out and about!

SD: Well, I’ve been listening to quite a lot of Afro beats myself. That’s the pan African sound emanating from the continent at the moment. From the smooth grooves out of Nigeria to my current obsession amapiano house music coming out of South Africa.

What's next for OD?

SD: We’ve got some exciting projects coming up including a couple of collaborations that may or may not tap into some of our obsessions noted earlier... More long term we can't wait to develop more frames, maybe introducing metal or rimless frames to the collection. It might be a year or two away, but really excited about that!