The eyewear brand in search of diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry

Photo credit: Arne Zacher

Few would deny that the fashion industry has a diversity problem, but many probably don’t quite understand the magnitude of it and the great lack of inclusion that some marginalized communities face when doing business. shopping. An issue that has not been fully addressed by fashion brands in the past, and which is central to the new brand Crop, concerns the design of the glasses.

Co-founders Ackeem Ngwenya and Shariff Vreugd set out to tackle a problem they’ve faced all their lives: They could never find glasses that fit their face shape. The couple realized that their personal frustration was due to the fact that most glasses are designed with Caucasian nasal characteristics in mind, which means narrow and high nasal bridges. For this reason, people with low and wide nasal bridges (mainly blacks and people of East Asian descent) are forced to wear ill-fitting products.

Photo <a class=credit: Arne Zacher” data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTcyMA–/–~B/aD0xMDgwO3c9MTQ0MDthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/”/>

Photo credit: Arne Zacher

“The most frustrating thing was that my nose wasn’t made for the majority of glasses. At the time, I didn’t know that there was nothing wrong with my nose, but that in fact the products themselves were not suitable, ”says Ngwenya, adding that the experience had done it. feeling “unappreciated and invisible”.

“Reframd solves this problem by designing sunglasses that are right for people, not the other way around. These are frames designed to fit each person instead of a single singular beauty standard.

The brand uses a frame algorithm coupled with a premium nylon 3D printing process to digitally create a perfect fit for each wearer’s unique face geometry, meaning that every style is created with that particular face shape. in mind, making the product as inclusive as possible. And, while every design is personalized, Refrad is also committed to keeping prices low to ensure they can remain available to everyone. The company does this by operating a direct-to-consumer model, going slow and taking feedback as it comes.

“The biggest lesson for us is that perfection is the enemy of progress,” says Ngwenya. “Waiting for the release of a perfect product is a waste of time and resources. So we launch, get feedback from the market, and improve the product based on what we hear. “

Photo credit: Arne Zacher

Photo credit: Arne Zacher

The company is currently raising funds for Kickstarter, having caught the attention of design experts, and hopes to make real progress in the fashion industry with a product that eliminates no one. Sadly, Ngwenya believes that it is up to companies like his to create the change, rather than expecting the industry to do it from within.

“I don’t think the eyewear industry itself will change, it has no incentive to do so, at least not as long as most of the big brands are controlled by one entity. Lasting change requires outside brands like ours to bring new perspectives and not do things as usual. “

Photo credit: Arne Zacher

Photo credit: Arne Zacher

For a broader change to take place in the industry as a whole, Ngwenya says it all comes down to being more inclusive in these top jobs.

“There must be a diversity of voices and entrances in different departments of the fashion industry, especially in positions of power,” he says. “In general, we all have biases, and if everyone around us has similar biases and there is no one to challenge those biases, we keep making the same mistakes that are made to the detriment of others. or belittle them. We can remedy our blind spots by taking a variety of perspectives. “

Ultimately, the designer wants to hope that greater awareness of diversity could lead to significant change.

“You can see discussions around inclusive representation and participation in different sectors of society; Whether this will lead to lasting change is a puzzle. But I would like to be optimistic.

You can donate to Refrad’s Kickstarter campaign here, and can find out more about the label here.

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