Simon Jablon for Linda Farrow, building dreams

His frames are world renown: Linda Farrow sunglasses need no introduction, and Simon Jablon is the current general and creative director of the luxury eyewear brand. He shares his mother's values: exclusivity, innovation and elegance. What matters, as he underlines in this interview, is to leave nothing to chance. Building dreams is very serious business.

What is fashion to you?
It's a dream and a form of art, something precious and untouchable. Yet we can make it reality and turn it into a business. The reason why the majority of people love art and would like to work in this field is that it is a true wonderland.

What is your objective in this magical world?
To make fashion even more fun, playful and aspirational.

What were you doing before Linda Farrow?
I was very young when I started this job. Before that I was helping my father in the business aspect; my mother was always managing the creative side of the company. I studied economics at college and believe business and creativity go hand in hand. 

What do you mean?
You have to find a balance between the two aspects: they're both necessary to have a successful product. I don't want the business side to cripple creativity, but if you have a vision and want to realize it you need a solid practical foundation or nothing will come of it. It's a chain: I deliver my dream to consumers, so I need quality, distribution, delivery, everything has to be perfectly calibrated and arranged. There's no space for improvisation.

What is your mother's heritage?
Her DNA is visible throughout the brand: my mother created a lifestyle. Think of Coco Chanel and how still today the label speaks volumes of her and her style. The crucial point is to build an inspiration: we don't make glasses just to go through the motions. Believe me, consumers can tell what energy is behind a product. There's something spiritual about creating fashion.

Once you took the reins, what did you do?
As I said, my mother left a very strong identity: she was a pioneer in this field, she pushed it beyond the boundaries of creativity. Before her, making sunglasses was basically an engineering process, whereas my mother created an aesthetic desire, a real change in the mentality of the consumer. Our task was to take this even further. To this effect we re-launched the vintage collections, knowing that what people are looking for is individuality.

So what do people want now?
Precious and refined collections. For example we select the best materials, such as titanium, platinum... And we keep the exclusivity of the brand through a careful choice in distribution: we're not selling candy you know? The way in which the product is presented is also very important: we want to offer pieces that make the wearer proud. In this sense fashion is like a bubble: from the team that designs the product to the marketing branch, only when everybody gives it their all and works in synergy is it possible to maintain the bubble up to the very end of the process.

Making sunglasses: what are the biggest challenges?
You always have to know what you're doing to perfection: it's not a field in which there's any room for error. You need great technical know-how and lengthy experience, but personally I adore challenges. It's important not to rush things though: that could potentially ruin everything.

How do you see the future of eyewear?
That's something the public will decide. Now that the gap between the rich and poor keeps growing people can afford either luxury products or ones that are cheap. Our business is focused on that upper 1% of the population. Our clients have an open mentality, they travel, are informed and spend with great attention to quality.

Is there such a thing as a routine in your line of work?
Definitely not: everyday has different priorities and demands. I also travel a great deal, about 6 to 8 months a year, on business trips concerning marketing, sales or various inaugurations. In addition the creative process is never the same and rarely happens just at the drawing board: it's rather a continuous acitivity.

What are your favorite spots in your city?
The premise is that I'm rarely in London, however I adore Selfridges: it's the classic "place to be" for shopping. I live in Carlton Way, where Zaha Hadid had her office: there are phenomenal buildings and furniture shops all over. And queen Elizabeth is here. I also really enjoy the West End: it has everything you could need.

And abroad?
The newest and most evocative boutiques are in Korea. It's a country, and market, that is rapidly expanding; the younger generations absorb everything, like sponges. China too, obviously. I bet Chengdu will soon become a fashion capital: the shops are fantastic.

How do you choose the designers to work with?
I almost have to fall in love with them, feel there's a good energy. They have to be passionate about the mission of creating products of excellence and brilliant new ideas. They have to be willing to work, have an open mind, be creative, have that extra something and apply lateral thinking.

You work in the family business: pros and cons?
Linda Farrow was entrusted to me, it's true, but I never felt any sort of pressure from my parents. I work in conjunction with my brother, who's in charge of the operational part of the business: we're completely different but complementary. When you work in the family business it's easier to openly communicate your ideas. Sometimes even with too much emphasis – we're very passionate – but that motivates us to always give it our all.

And your mother?
She took a step back. In the past I've asked her for advice, but she replied: "It's your vision that matters". She has always been very humble: what she wanted was our happiness and to give our ideas space to develop .

What are your main sources of inspiration?
Many, very many... At the moment I'm obsessed by design furniture. We're opening a new retail store and I'm immersed in the world of interior decoration and furnishing: I love it.

Your favorite outfit?
I love Dries Van Noten and I also like Tim Coppins. 

Is there a model of sunglasses you love more than others?
It's hard to single just one out, but the 479 is among my favorites of all time.

Interview by Marzia Nicolini


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