It all started in 2015. Two pals, obsessed with the summer, were having a natter at a day party and realised that their sunglasses were one of those items they never left the house without.
After a chance meeting with an eyewear collector, Sheriff-Deen Showobi and Oscar Phillips decided to team up and start creating their own vintage-inspired frames but with a modern, contemporary twist. We pinned them down and asked them a bunch of questions about their craft, favourite designs and where they see themselves in the future. Read on to get to know.
We hear that Oscar Deen is the result of a chance conversation at a day party, how did that conversation go?
Oscar: We crossed paths back in the day in Manchester, it was long over due we had a mad amount of friends in common back home in London. The day party was one of those long sprawling summer days where you’re having the best time with your mates. We both started chatting about ideas we had, stuff we liked and things we wanted to do. Then down the line came a chance meeting with a vintage eyewear collector & that's where all the dots started to connect.
Sheriff-Deen: Through this collector, we learnt a little about the manufacturing process and lots about how beautiful vintage frames could be found, if you knew where to look, in little spots across Europe and the world. I reckon it was the idea of getting to travel, essentially on a treasure hunt and turning our finds into something new that was the final hook.
Are there any designers, artists or fashion eras that influence your designs
Sheriff-Deen: Well the designs themselves are all influenced by frames that we find, and they’re all from different eras. Our Panda’s are based on a pair of perfectly round 1920’s acetate frames we found in Millan, while the Pinto a 1940’s shape called Crown Panto found in Paris, but our overarching design philosophy is based on combining classic and street/skate styles with subtle/hidden details to hint at the hunt each frame starts as.
What’s your process? How does a pair of Oscar Deens begin?
Oscar: First step in the mission, we work out where in the world we want to go to find some vintage frames. Sometimes we get tips or the odd nudge but as you can imagine, these eyewear collectors keep their cards close to their chest! We get out there and start asking questions & follow our nose hoping to find some gems. We’ve always done pretty well, never coming home empty-handed. When we get back with our stash Sheriff & I will then pick out the pieces that really stand out to us.
We then take them away and each do our own sketches of the frames to see what we would do to change them and make them our own. We take on board each other's sketches and then roll with a combination of our two styles OR whichever one feels strongest.
From here we get technical, developing CADs, while making tweaks. Then ahead of prototyping comes one of the funnest parts…picking acetate and lens combinations. This is a really tactile process, where we play with light conditions and really appreciate the density of the Mazzuchelli acetate all OD frames are made from. Once we’ve decided we prototype and tweak until happy.
Do you have a favourite piece or collection?
Sheriff-Deen: Every year I have a little affair with the newest shape, but I always return to our first piece, old faithful. Fraser.
Oscar: I get the luxury of being able to chop and change what my favourite piece is, but at the moment the Fraser M Series. This is our first metal frame so a slight difference in process, but we’re chuffed with how they’ve come out.
How would you describe the Oscar Deen aesthetic?
Sheriff-Deen: In a word. Metropolitan. To us this means juxtaposition. Chic meets street, global meets local, new meets old.
What is the five-year plan for you? Do you have any big goals for the brand
Oscar: Great question. For us it's about balanced growth. Pushing ourselves design-wise for more drops while never overproducing and steadily increasing our recognition globally through partnerships.
You’re based in London, how does the city influence your pieces?
Sheriff-Deen: Completely I think. How could it not. I mentioned earlier, chic meets street, global meets local, new meets old. There are few places in the world that push together the polarised like London and fewer that make it look as good. Like Skepta said "we mix the Palace with the Celine"
Are there any London-based creatives that we should know about?
Oscar & Sheriff-Deen: The Sihouettes Project are an incredible collective of musicians that we’ve been following for years headed up by Eerf Evil. Not only do their tunes slap but they’re got a brilliant vibe as a group.
We also have to shout out Louis Vi, he’s dropped a brilliant album this year whilst also pushing the conversation about climate change.
There’s also jazzy pair we first saw play at a little warehouse jam session some years back called Bluelab Beats.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Sheriff-Deen: Can't say too much but we've got some really exciting collabs coming up next season, plus the M series will continue through the collection so there will be another Metal version of one of our legacy frames
Oscar: We also have a new piece inspired by some frames found in Hackney dropping SS24