Having established a successful Australian collection of polarised sunglasses for women and men, BRV designer Gisu Mobarhani has taken the bold step to develop her inaugural optical collection. mivision spoke to Gisu about her background in design, her drive to build the BRV brand and the inspiration behind her new optical collection, which she describes as “really her”.
How long has Blue Reef Vision been around?
Since 2000. My family immigrated to Australia from Persia in 1995 and my parents started the business five years later, initially as an importer of fast fashion eyewear. Then they opened retail shops, which sold our own and other brands of sunglasses – it has been very successful for them.
How did you get involved in the company?
I have always designed fashion – until a couple of years ago, I had my own label of clothing – the Gisu label. It was going well but I wanted to open the next chapter in my life. I wanted to design sunglasses.
Customers in our retail stores told us they didn’t like the compromise they had to make between quality, design and price when choosing eyewear. My brother Arian and I decided we’d like to fill that gap with a collection of fashionable polarised sunglasses at a mid price point. My parents agreed to the strategy.
I think the best thing to do in business and life is to concentrate on what you do… as soon as you start looking around, you tend to draw on what others do rather than relying on your own creativity
We launched the BRV brand at ODMA in 2011 and it has grown rapidly. It’s very hard to find fashion-focussed sunglasses with polarised lenses for women, so that point of difference has really helped us establish our brand.
After just three years, you’ve come up with an optical collection – why so soon?
That’s really what I’m like – when I have something running smoothly, I like to shake things up a bit; to set myself a new challenge – so last year I decided that even though I love designing sunglasses, I’d like to begin designing optical as well.
How do you enjoy designing optical compared with sunglasses?
What I love about designing optical as opposed to the BRV sun collection is that it really opens up my creativity. The sunglass collection has been very much built on customer feedback. Now that we’re more established, I feel I’ve got the freedom to be more true to the BRV style and my own creativity.
How would you say your optical collection differs in style from the sunglass collections?
Our women’s sun collection is very feminine – there are significant crystals and jewels in the detailing. The optical collection is simple – it’s about using textures and colours to make the point of difference rather than jewels. This is important because an optical frame is something you’ll be wearing all day, every day.
Who is the BRV woman?
The BRV customer is someone who is slightly sophisticated and fashion conscious… a business woman with a very active life so her optical frame has to be designed for comfort.
Where do you seek inspiration?
My design process is not all about sitting down with a design pad – it’s something that’s happening all year as different things inspire me – a picture from the latest fashion show, the sense of style I notice about someone I see on the street, the colours and textures I come across on a holiday. I cut out photos and images of inspirational things and put them in a folder and I’ll often look back through all of them before I start designing.
Did you look to up and coming trends when designing your optical collection?
I love the high fashion runway look but I’m aware that if a person is going to spend $200 or more on an optical frame – before having lenses fitted – they don’t want to choose something that will make them look great this season and ridiculous next year. So I’ve chosen more simple designs, something that will stand the test of time.
What’s the greatest challenge about design?
Getting it right. Something I think is fantastic could be the opposite so I show it to Arian first – as my younger brother, he is my best and worst critic. I also speak to customers about the design and functionality.
Your first optical collection will launch in January 2015, what are the key design elements we can look forward to?
Acetate has been my main concentration, and in terms of colour, tortoiseshell. We’ve also used a lot of translucent colours – greys and turquoise for instance, always in contrast on black or brown frames to give a point of difference while remaining conservative in style. Within the optical collection we have 15 frames, each available in two to three colour ways. While most are designed for women, there are also some unisex frames.
Where do you have your eyewear manufactured?
We work closely with a great manufacturing company in Japan. I design the frame and all specifications; they provide feedback on functionality and whether my blueprint is achievable. Then we determine technical specifications and recommend alternative materials we could use to get the best from the design.
Right now I’m so excited about launching the optical collection. Next my aim is to grow our company, to have our brand established in Australia and to build an international market. We already have a distributor in Germany.
Now the big question… as the company founders, what do your parents think?
My parents are really proud – they really do believe in me – I think because I’ve proven myself with the success of the sunglass collection.
Blue Reef’s new optical range can be viewed now. Contact BRV on (AUS) 02 4271 8382.