February 24, 2022
Xiwen Zhang , Co-founder and Creative Director
The British eyewear brand, FOR ART’S SAKE has fused a love for art with new possibilities in design for a fashion-conscious customer looking for bold individuality and celebrity-endorsed eyewear style. The result is a unique style blending daring silhouettes, on-point details and fresh and surprising fashion-forward colours. In an exclusive 20/20 EUROPE interview, Clodagh Norton talked to Xiweng Zhang in London about the unveiling of a special new launch for Silmo.
Q: FOR ART'S SAKE was first founded in 2016 in London. Could you tell us the story of how you first got started? The idea came to you on holiday soon after graduating, is that right?
A: I came up with the idea for FOR ART’S SAKE (FAS) on a holiday to Greece where I went shopping for sunglasses but couldn’t seem to find anything at an entry luxury price point that spoke to my taste. After returning to London, an idea struck and my husband and I set about creating a brand that combines entry luxury price point with exceptional handmade quality and after a lot of late nights, FAS snowballed to success that is today.
Q: And how did the name come about and the connection to art?
A: I studied History of Art and was set on becoming an art dealer. My connection and inspiration from art is woven through everything that we design. I wanted to create sunglasses that were different to anything I’d seen, so I design each pair like it’s a little work of art, designing to delight, always. This is why we are so excited to announce that we have teamed up with one of the most iconic artists in history – Frida Kahlo - through the Frida Kahlo corporation in Mexico). Retailers can preview the first Frida Kahlo x FAS collaboration at Silmo!
“This is why we are so excited to announce that we have teamed up with one of the most iconic artists in history – Frida Kahlo - (through the Frida Kahlo corporation in Mexico….” Xiwen Zhang, Co-Founder and Creative Director
Q: What is your background and that of co-founder, Yannis Makridis?
A: Before starting FAS, I studied History of Art at Goldsmiths University in London. And my husband was a lawyer working in Microsoft.
Q: Your celebrity following is remarkable for a small-sized independent sunglasses label with A-listers such as Beyoncé, Eva Chen and Rita Ora wearing your designs, even in your campaigns. What is the secret of this incredible endorsement success
A: Staying true to our artistic DNA and dreaming up unique eyewear pieces has been the secret (or not so secret) to becoming the go-to eyewear brand for A-listers! As the brand becomes more recognized, we are amassing a dedicated following of celebrities and influencers, and will continue to do so I believe!
\\ Frida Portrait in Rose
Q: For Art's Sake currently has two locations - a retail store right in the centre of London's Covent Garden and production in Shenzhen. As the brand grows, what are your aspirations and plans and will you be keeping this structure for now?
A: London has always been the home to our flagship store & HQ, but post-pandemic our team has actually became more international and we are seeing the flexibility and advantages in working with people remotely also. We have plans to open more retail locations, as well as expending our team in London and internationally.
Q: Tell us more about your launch this month. Do you expect new collection to bring you a new following for the brand?
A: We are beyond excited to announce the launch of Frida Kahlo x For Art’s Sake. One of the most important female artists, her short-lived life continues to have a profound influence in popular culture, inspiring not only icons like Beyonce but everyday people encouraging all of us to live our artistic truth, to embrace our creative flair. This is why this collaboration is so important to us, her authenticity and style is ever so inspiring to us! This collection consists of three sunglasses, each available in four colourways.
Q: What are your personal goals in 2023?
A: This is the first year into my 30s, a new decade. I hope to spend more quality time with my family and find time to submerge myself into all things art!