INTRODUCING: FREDA BANANA
Created in New York in 2014 by Alexia Jane Hebet, sunglasses label Freda Banana started initially as a creative passion project but quickly gained international acclaim thanks to its instantly recognizable round, fancifully embellished frames. Each piece is handmade in Greece and then hand-embellished in London – the pearls are meticulously glued on, one by one, in the brand’s atelier in Notting Hill, taking between 30-120 minutes to create a pair, depending on the complexity of the design. We sat down with the founder to discuss the unique style of Freda Banana sunglasses, their raising popularity and the company’s future steps.
What is your background and what led you to create Freda Banana?
I was born and raised in Paris, then moved to New York to work in fashion. I came up with Freda Banana whilst working on a project for Burning Man. One of the “ten commandments” of the festival is “radical self expression,” which I think is what my sunglasses are all about.
You have established an identifiable style of your own. How did you decide on the shapes and materials?
The style I go for is trendy and luxurious but still different. I envisioned the sunglasses in my head, then got them to get produced in the factories in Greece.
How much have you grown since your first collection? In what ways and aspects have you evolved?
Material- and direction-wise, we now know our target customer better. We went from fun accessory to luxury.
Based on what criteria did you choose your manufacturing locations?
Every pair of sunglasses, from the screw to the shape, is made in Greece, the factory I work with has been in the business for 150 years with a particular savoir faire.
Business-wise, have you set up a timeline for brand expansion or do you let things happen in their own time?
I am hoping to take the business to another level in the next five years.
Your products were also successful with fashion press, being featured in SheerLuxe and Man Repeller. Was it all word of mouth or you had a certain policy? Which do you believe to be the best approach to fashion press for emerging designers?
In our case, it was all word of mouth. Press started picking up once we launched at net-a-porter! The best approach for emerging designers is networking and word of mouth.
Your products are already stocked at renowned online retailers. Could you please discuss how this happened as well as how you are working towards expanding your stockists network?
Because we stock our product with renowned online retailers, we are lucky to not have to look for stockists – we get to choose who we stock with.
Would you transfer this inspiration and style to eyeglasses? I think it would be very interesting!
Yes, hopefully in the near future. However, we have a lot of work already with our sunglasses.
What are your future plans?
A lot of work, a lot of new styles and an exciting collaboration with a famous brand – that’s all I can say for now!