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Monday, December 19, 2011

In Talks With Tommy Ogara - Creative Director, Dita Eyewear

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I was invited to the private launch of Thom Browne for Dita Eyewear recently to experience firsthand the details and exquisite materials that go into a pair of glasses or shades in this collection. Inspired by the powerful figures in the 40s - 60s, the collection features round lightweight titanium frames for the shades, with some of them featuring 60s square frames in lightweight plastic. The shades were especially well made - they were literally featherlight and the curavture of the frames seemed to be tailored specially for Asian faces. All frames were finished off with the trademark red, white and blue stripes signature of Thom Browne.

I managed to catch Tommy Ogara, one of the creative directors for Dita Eyewear and interviewed him regarding the collection and his work. Tommy was really fun and affable, a delight to chat with because he brings forth so many stories and ideas into the conversation.

How did the collaboration between Thom Browne and Dita come about?
Thom Browne approached me regarding the collection and at the same time Jeff and John (founders and creative directors of Dita Eyewear) also received the news when they were at Bergdorf's in New York. We’ve always seen ourselves creating trends and going against mediocrity and uniformity.
Thom Browne is the only fashion brand that we believe is truly worthy enough to join us in the uprising. So since then, we've been doing the eyewear collection with Thom Browne for his men's shows.

The inspiration for the frames come from mostly the era of 50s - 60s and it takes a man that has already has refined taste and developed style to carry it off - would you say that attracts an older clientele?
Not really, because increasingly more and more young hipsters are donning vintage clothes, or rather vintage inspired clothing. But at the same time you know that no one would actually wear some vintage items. You wouldn't wear a dress that is made entirely out from lace and tulle, would you? But because the quality of lace or other fabrics that were made in the past is so good, a lot of designers are remaking clothes from vintage finds through alteration or the addition of extra details. I think Courtney Love does that - you should call her!
So what we're doing here at Dita is to take inspiration from that and use the newest technology and highest quality modern materials to make our frames. Also a form of reinterpretation, I suppose.

Tommy - tell me about how you got to join Dita Eyewear.
I joined them in 2001 and it was because Dita was having problems with their then distributor in Japan. Because I had lived in Japan for a period of time, I can speak fluent Japanese, so I am now in charge of distribution and production at the Japan side and I've always been inspired by the creative buzz in Tokyo. I frequently have Skype meetings with Jeff, John and Mike Castello in our headquarters in LA to discuss about our design and I send prototypes back to LA as well.

I heard that you've got a factory in Japan. How is that contributing to the development for Dita?
The factory in Japan is great. We're constantly developing new ways to make our frames and I can control the quality of the materials that we use in our frames. We use a lot of titanium because it's lightweight, strong and unreactive. These days a lot of Asians are concerned about their skin, so titanium is just right because it will not cause skin irritation.

Any new developments for Dita or for yourself?
Well, actually tomorrow I'm attending the launch of a new eyewear collection in Hong Kong and it was a recent project that I was involved in. I resketched and tweaked the designs based on the original designs of a 50 year heritage eyewear label that was under William Cheung. I did it for free because I thought it'll be nice to be able to contribute to something like that.

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The launch was held in the boutique of SURRENDER, located in Raffles Shopping Arcade. Originally started off in Far East Plaza with a focus more on streetwear, they moved to the shophouses off at Somerset before finally relocating to Raffles for around 2 years. They stock more than 10 menswear labels including Thom Browne and the boutique was tastefully decorated to ressemble almost like a mini-museum in an attic. They carry a carefully curated selection of men's suits, casual apparel, shoes and leather accessories. Definitely worth a visit, for both metropolitan men that are already possess refined style, or for some others to discover their style.

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