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Linda Farrow Creative Director Simon Jablon revived his mother’s eponymous 1970s eyewear label after discovering boxes of forgotten glasses in 2003. Since then, Linda Farrow has expanded into the world’s most progressive and fashionable luxury eyewear brand.

From London, Simon speaks to The Style Sheet about iconic moments, life in lockdown and the world’s most universally loved eyewear style. 

1. Linda Farrow has collaborated with some incredible brands. Do you have a favourite that you’ve worked with? 

We’ve worked with so many great brands and had such different experiences with each of them. My all-time personal favourite brand is Dries Van Noten, so that was a big one for me because I’m quite obsessed with what he does on a personal level.

2. How often do you spot Linda Farrow designs on the street, and do you go up to the wearers?

I’ve seen it a lot, luckily for us, and it’s always a weird thing. I wouldn’t want to say anything to them — I get a bit shy — but I love it at the same time. The child in me gets really excited. I don’t have the ego to go up to someone and say something like ‘I created what you’re wearing on your face!’ but it is really such a compliment. I think that feeling never goes away, no matter how big you get.

3. You live in London. What do you love most about the city?

I think it’s the energy — that’s what Linda Farrow is built on. Our heritage is 1970s London and that kind of uptown, downtown, rock ’n’ roll, hedonistic cultural mix of everything. There’s always energy where there’s music, fashion, the arts, and all different types of people from every different culture, and that’s London. It’s the beauty and the chaos all mixed together.

The limited-edition Debbie was created from recycled materials hand-finished with gold foil to celebrate Linda Farrow’s 50th anniversary

4. Could you give us a recommendation for next time we’re in town?

I like Exmouth Market in Clerkenwell where our office is based. There are a lot of independent bars and cool little restaurants. It’s a little part of London that most people don’t know about; it’s a weird hidden gem.

5. Linda Farrow has a very impressive following. Is there a moment of seeing your eyewear that stands out?

There were two really high-profile moments that happened in a very short period of time. It was when Lady Gaga wore them in her music video Paparazzi and then in the video Telephone with Beyoncé. It was quite a moment, and it’s hard to get moments like that. You can’t plan for those, they just happen and it becomes iconic overnight.

6. How did those moments come about? 

The glasses got borrowed by Lady Gaga’s stylist Nicola Formichetti but we didn’t know what for. When you lend stuff out, you keep an eye out. You’re not sure if they will be worn at all, or if it’s just going to worn to the supermarket, so when that came out, it was a bit like ‘Wow!’

7. What’s your work-from-home situation been like this year?

Most of our people are working from home, and I’m working from my attic half the time but, because product is tactile, sometimes you do need to be face-to-face and touching things. So me and the design team go into the office two to three days a week.

8. What’s the biggest lesson your mother taught you?

She always told me to follow my heart. There are always going to be doubters, everyone has an opinion, and you can’t let that interfere with your vision because then that vision becomes unclear and in the end consumer feels that in your product. You can’t be something to everybody.

9. Which pair of Linda Farrow glasses are you most likely to be sporting yourself?  

It’s going to sound quite cheesy! We’ve given names to a lot of the glasses in our core collection, and there’s a pair called Simon because I wear them all the time. I didn’t really like the idea of them being named after me but it was a unanimous team decision!

10. How do you think Linda Farrow has changed the trajectory of eyewear?

I think one thing Linda Farrow did is put eyewear on the fashion map. I think previously it was very functional, it wasn’t that interesting and it was never on the runways — we made eyewear a fashion accessory again. And I feel like that trend is continuing, with the eyewear industry becoming more and more solidified in the fashion world.

The new-season Jerry sunglasses epitomise the brand’s style, with an oversized angular cutwork frame finished with gold-plated titanium hardware

11. If you didn’t uncover your mother’s archive of eyewear what do you think you would be doing now?

I’ve always been interested in design. I would’ve loved to have gone into like furniture and interiors, something with a technical design aspect. I love the technical side of things, and I think that’s where my love for creating eyewear comes from — it’s a very technical product.

12. What’s been the biggest lesson of 2020 so far?

It’s cliché but I think the world was obsessed with expansion and growth, and now less has become more. People want fewer things, but they want better things. People want quality items that they are happy with and proud of. I think that’s the same with friendships as well — I don’t need a million friends or to go to a million parties. I’d rather just have a dinner in with good friends. We appreciate our family more, our time more, our friends.

13. What’s been the biggest silver lining of this year?

I had a daughter six months ago, so being able to have that time at home this year, when I’d usually be travelling so much, has been a massive silver lining.

14. What do you miss most about travelling?

I live in London, so seeing the sun! No, to be honest, for the last 20 years I’ve been travelling like a maniac. At one point I was travelling 10 months a year. It wasn’t sustainable, I was tired. And while I loved every minute, I haven’t missed travelling this year.

15. What’s on your travel bucket list post-pandemic?

The last trip I went on, just before the pandemic happened was down to Cape Town, South Africa. To be honest with you, I love it down there, it’s absolutely stunning. I’d be happy to go back there again!

16. What kind of eyewear styles have you noticed Hongkongers gravitating towards?

It’s always been about slightly bigger shapes there. I think that’s why we do quite well, because our heritage is steeped in the 1970s, which means bigger frames but still statement, and with quality.

Sculpted from recycled acetate and hand-polished, the D-frame glasses from the Linear collection are elevated with custom hinges and gold-plated titanium fittings

17. What are the key eyewear trends at the moment? 

I think light lenses are coming back, with a big, oversized light lens so you can see the eyes. I also think we’re going to see a spike in neon reflective lenses again.

18. Do you think there’ll be a trend shift post-pandemic?

Generally, I think post-pandemic people will want to have a bit of fun. Everyone’s been sitting at home wearing sweats all day, so I think people will want excitement when it comes to everything, including eyewear.

19. Where do you like to shop for menswear?

I have a soft spot for Prada, and I love Dries Von Noten. Then I’d mix it in with some streetwear brands like Nike. As I’m getting slightly older I can’t go too streetwear-y, otherwise, I feel like I look a bit ridiculous!

20. Do you think there’s a universally flattering eyewear style?

Yes! Our number one selling style is and always has been the Calthorpe. It’s named after where our office is, which was also were my mother’s office was. So we named it after that — the home of Linda Farrow. Everybody that tries them on really likes them.

Discover Linda Farrow’s eyewear collection at Puyi Optical, Pacific Place.