[TEST] How Two Londoners Created A Boutique Sunglasses Brand Inspired By The Past
Oscar Phillips and Sheriff-Deen Showobi knew they wanted to make something together; it just took them a little while to figure it out. The London-based friends eventually discovered their shared passion for vintage sunglasses, so they set out to improve on the classics. From there, they combined their names to form the moniker, Oscar Deen, now the official label of their growing brand.
Before lockdown measures worldwide, Phillips and Showobi were perpetually traveling, chasing summer, and seeking out new inspiration. They started by scouring markets and antique stores across Europe, in hopes of finding vintage treasures to inform the quality and vision of their new collection. They studied the antique glasses they found before deciding how to update each pair’s original designs with signature Oscar Deen touches. The final frames are crafted in Italy from hand-finished acetate made by Mazzucchelli, a manufacturer who’s been in the business since 1849. All lenses are made from lightweight plastic and coated for UV protection. Finally, each pair is delivered in a bespoke case, crafted in collaboration with London-based leather artisan (and personal friend), Otis Ingrams. The sleek carrier is handmade from two pieces of recycled composite leather and finished with four brass rivets and one brass stud.
Priced at around $160 each, Oscar Deen glasses provide a rare mix of value and quality for the price point. Styles are intentionally designed for consumers in search of authentic, timeless products. “We wanted each pair of Oscar Deen glasses to have a bit of vintage mixed with street, to tell a story about travel or something slightly off the beaten path,” describes Showobi. “And each unisex design has a story of its own.”
Phillips and Showobi created Pinto after hunting through a Paris flea market and finding a French design from the 1940s called the “Crown Panto” (which they admit to initially misreading as “Pinto”). They transformed the shape of the original style by raising the key-hole bridge and lowering the frame, in order to create harmony with the angled brow.
Upon discovering a 1950s style of American sunglasses at a beachside market in Barcelona, Phillips and Showobi got to work on the Nelson silhouette. The pair they found ended up being a standard issue from the Army, so it wasn’t necessarily seen as “cool” in its day. Oscar Deen enhanced elements of the original pair with a keyhole bridge, broadened face, and chamfered brow. They named the pair after Nelson, a helpful guy who they met on the same trip in Spain.
Italian bifocals from the 1960s inspired this retro Fraser style, which has soft lines and a strong bow. The pair also has an angled, central brow for a more contemporary look.
Once, when Phillips and Showobi were visiting a collector in central London, the man asked if they wanted to see some “treasure.” He ended up sharing a special pair of sunglasses from the ’80s, which featured a heavily sculpted bridge and brow. Oscar Deen remixed their own version by adding a gentle trim and modernizing the shapely silhouette.
Inspired by a sharp, American style from the ’70s, first found in a Madrid market, the Carril glasses have a softer brow angle that’s relaxed yet still means business.