unglasses have a story to tell. The shade, shape and style all work to represent the eyes behind the lens. And just like shoes and bags, they're one of the most coveted items in any Middle Eastern wardrobe. However it's not very often that a stand-alone brand will enter the market with a product offering that includes just one product type, sans clothing. Which is why, when Hugo Taylor and Charlie Morris, the men behind the namesake brand Taylor Morris, jetted into Dubai from London to launch their collection exclusively in Harvey Nichols, Dubai, Buro 24/7 Middle East had a slew of shade-inspired questions...
Welcome back to Dubai! Harvey Nichols is a great location for your label. What about the rest of the Middle East?
Hugo: We have an exclusive partnership with Harvey Nichols. So we'll start off here first in Dubai and then expand to Abu Dhabi and then to the rest of the Emirates, of course. There's lots of potential.
In the UK we started with 11 frames and one rack and we're now stocked nationwide with as much display space as Tom Ford and Chanel.
Hugo: Of course. We are just about to start an e-commerce store hopefully in three or four months.
Charlie: We'll also change our IP address too so that when you land on the page in Dubai, it's in the right currency. I'd be less likely to buy it if it's not in the right currency because I don't know what the exchange rate is.
So how did Taylor Morris start?
Hugo: Charlie and I did everything when we started from being the photocopy boy to delivery boy to designing and marketing.
Charlie: I'm obsessed with sunglasses. We just got together and we've had that same kind of upbringing and the same parental influences. We were into Rolling Stones, that kind of vibe. We like that classic English feel but with a modern twist. If you look at our collections we've got the classic frame shape but you can see the colouration of the lens.
Hugo: Charlie hit the nail on the head. I remember being on the Isle of Wight and buying these sunglasses... I loved them so much, I remember crying for two days without them. I was 11-years-old. So it's obviously that passion has always been there. When I look back at childhood pictures of me, when I was eight, I was wearing what I thought were really cool sunglasses, maybe not quite now.
Charlie and I worked in professions which didn't allow for creativity and doing this has been one of the best experiences we've ever had. I think we're lucky that we've been rewarded for our enthusiasm. People see how much we care and love what we do. Charlie really is 'Mr. Small Details'. He even hand-designed the hinges and everythingis hand-engraved. There's such a duty of care. A lot of fashion labels use sunglasses to draw people in, to support the rest of the brand. Our margins aren't where they should be because we try to give people the best product we can.
How many pairs of sunglasses do you own?
Hugo: Obviously all our collection. I even have a problem trying on other brands in store.
Market research, no?
Charlie: I try on brands but obviously I'm not going to buy another pair.
How does Taylor Morris stand out?
Charlie: We have already started designing our own acetate. Three pairs in Harvey Nichols are bespoke acetates that we've made in Italy. No one else has these.
Hugo: A lot of other brands will have something fairly similar because we buy all of our acetate from a company called Mazzucchelli in Italy. They're the oldest manufacturer in the world, which started in 1849. They were doing things well, before anyone else was.
Hugo: Also we buy all of our acetate in Italy, our lenses and hinges are bought in Germany and then it's all finished back in England.
How long does it take to put a pair of sunglasses together? From the time you design them, to completion?
Charlie: It's quite a long time. The company we use in Italy put our sunglasses into these huge big tubs, drop in different colours and then mix it all around. But we plan ahead. We've already designed our collection for April.
Hugo: I think a lot of designers will tell you that you're never quite living in the moment. You're worried about things that you have down the line. But when you do eventually get the product line and you see it for the first time, it's always a great feeling.
How do you pick the perfect pair of sunglasses for your face?
Charlie: Hugo is actually really good at this. He kind of works it out based on a certain hair colour. If you've got blonde hair you'll look better in brown frames.
Hugo: If you've got black hair I'd say you should go for something which is really dark or something very colourful. If you're blonde always go for something brown. Also it's a lot to do with face shape. If you've got a face shape like mine, with a bigger nose, then you could do with something with a straight bar across the top because it brings balance to the face. If you've got a very rounded face, I would tend to stay away from anything round. I would go for an aviator, just because the depth at the bottom helps accentuate the sharpest angle of the face. But mainly when we design we also design around personality. It's also about how you like to dress. We try to sit on both sides of the fashion-forward fence and the very classical fence. For example, if you were a British gent, you could easily wear this kind of classic green and brown tortoise shell and that would go nicely with your suit. But then if you're a young lady, then wear the shades in something bright and colourful. It's the same shape but a completely different attitude. It really comes down a lot to personal preference but I would also say to the buyer, if you go into a store normally the first pair that meets your eye, is the one. The eye does it for you.
Taylor Morris is available exclusively at Harvery Nichols, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai.