Dress codes and diversions

Author: Clodagh Norton

Interview of the Month
October 05, 2020

As the FRAME CHAIN team launch a new vintage-inspired collection of chains – VINTAGE DISCO - ideal for sunglasses, eyewear and, in COVID times, face masks too – we talked to co-founders Vanessa Harrington and Ann-Margret Kearney about moving ahead despite uncertain times.

Q: With the absence of the fairs this month, please tell us about your exciting new launch, VINTAGE DISCO.

A: We love the 70s, it’s the origin to our product and we thought we all needed a little bit of fabulous fun for the autumn. The styles are inspired my imaginary characters who we see ourselves dancing with back in Studio 54. There is an idea of high-octane glamour and a chic carefree dance-the-night-away kind of vibe. We have two lengths and the usual white, yellow and rose gold with the removable silicon loops - the chains can be worn as necklaces and then also, a key new function, as safety chains for your masks.

Q: Explain any measures you have put in place to be able to ship the collection to your customers with the current climate.

A: We have been incredibly fortunate in these crazy times. We took a risk and fully stocked all items when we heard about the virus spreading. Those items were left for at least 4 weeks before they were able to ship out. We also work in a virtual office - all of our team members work from where they want to anyway -  so that didn’t really change anything. We also work with a family run distribution centre - it’s a small team with incredible expertise who did everything they needed and could do to ensure we can keep on sending orders. We work with small photographer’s studios and web agencies too -  all of them have played their part to keep us moving ahead. Of course, we wanted to support as much as we can -  we donated as much PPE as we could at the beginning of the outbreak of the virus -  we were incredibly moved by the responses from our fans and customers. We have also set up a monthly donation to Black Lives Matter (BLM) causes and will continue to be representative in our content production and partnerships. We have found a new use for FRAME CHAIN as safety chains – so we are also giving away free masks on all orders on our own website. We are where we are because of the support we have received over the years and we want to do what we can to give back.

Q: What is your perception of how customers are viewing fashion and purchasing at this time, and how is it affecting FRAME CHAIN in general?

A: We hope that people are finally seeing the damage that is done by fast fashions and cheap imitations across the board. People want more than one wear from a product and we are obsessed with the idea of multi function and long lasting design. Our products are costume jewellery,  but we do everything we can to build them for life and beyond single seasons. We see people coming back for more each time we release a new collection – people are building a FRAME CHAIN – wardrobe using them as jewellery, glasses chains and now for their mask.

Q: The concept of wearing a chain to carry a mask is super new but already quite popular? Would you agree?

A: Yes, 100%. I, Annie (Co-Founder) started wearing my mask on a chain almost immediately back in March - it just made total sense to me. I don’t have to touch it, I don’t lose it, it doesn’t go in my bag and it doesn’t get germs on it. It is really practical and a way to add a bit of fashion to something that is so important in our lives right now.

Q: For those who don’t yet know FRAME CHAIN, you are considered the first accessories brand in Europe to bring back the chain as a fun and fashionable accessory combining practicality and up-to-date design, as well as keen pricing?

A: We like to think so. We know we didn’t invent glasses chains but we did bring a new spin making the loops detachable, designing like jewellery and or earrings too. We also pushed it as hard as we could to make them relevant again – we only sold to fashion stores for the first two years or very established, independent optical stores – it was a long old road but we loved every minute of it. When we started a few people laughed at us and called us grannies. A few rather established brands started paying attention at the fairs. We were the only people at the optical shows doing glasses chains as jewellery – some people thought we were expensive and other people got it right away. We spend 100s of pounds on our frames sometimes and we wanted an accessory that matched that  and the overall aesthetic of a person. There are 1000’s of glasses brands and we believe that we have models that can fit with 1000’s of frame wearers.

Q: Is the chain here to stay?

A: Absolutely – with big brands and new independents on the market the trend is established. More and more people wear glasses now and sunglasses are a key accessory – chains go with both.  And boy are we happy about that. Now it’s up to us to keep pushing the design story to keep everyone excited and inspired.

Q: Can you remind us about your global distribution and where you are seeing the most growth at this time?

A: It goes without saying that FRAME CHAIN has seen huge growth online – with new customers coming from Canada, the US, all over Europe and sales are starting to really pick up in Australia and the Middle East. We have about 300 points of sales across the globe – with some of the best department stores including, Browns, Farfetch, Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Selfridges, TSUM in Russia and some of the most incredible opticians in all corners of the world.

Q: What are your aspirations for 2021? Are there new projects coming up?

A: We are developing a few super amazing products for next year – one is launching next month – the MINI and MAXSIE CHAINS – they are phone chains! Maxsie is a long chain to wear around your neck or cross body and the Mini chain is to be worn on the wrist. The other projects we will keep until the official launch – but as always there is a FRAME CHAIN twist on some functional everyday products.

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