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Q&A with Oscar Phillips and Sheriff-Deen Showobi of Oscar Deen

S/S 24

Oscar Deen is a brand new sunglass brand for The Basement, founded by friends Sheriff-Deen Showobi and Oscar Phillips. The designs originate from sourcing trips around the streets and vintage markets of Europe for classic frames. These vintage originals form the basis of their modern designs. Rob sits down with the founders and gets the inside track on the world of eyewear.

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Both of you have careers away from fashion. What was the Eureka moment that made you decide to both start an eyewear brand together?


O: We’d been good mates for years and always wanted to work on a project together. We tried our hand at a few things but found glasses when helping a vintage eyewear collector out with a completely different project. His collection of vintage frames planted a seed and seemed to connect the dots of what we were looking for. We took him for coffee and took our notepads too. That was our intro to the eyewear industry.


We then spent about two years in research and development; attending trade shows in London and Paris, learning about design, materials, manufacturing, timelines etc. We completed six rounds of prototypes while slowly developing the brand side of Oscar Deen.

Marché aux Puces, Paris

"When you head to Milan with a single clue. Find Mr 'E'. His collection is mental."

The inspiration: a pair of 1970's American-made classics found in Mercado De Carril, Madrid.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

One of the things we like about what you do is the way you source your products. Can you give us a brief insight into how you find your frames and which far-flung corners of the globe this has taken you to?


S: We’ve been all over the place: Milan, Turin, Barcelona, Paris. We’d like to go to Japan and the US soon as well.


The way we go about sourcing the vintage frames to inspire the collection usually involves picking somewhere that we’d like to go or where we’ve heard there is a decent chance of finding some treasure. Then once we’re there, we start following our noses, looking up flea markets and vintage shops to begin with and then we ask people we meet along the way if they know of any good spots to find vintage eyewear. It's a proper laugh and by asking people it turns into a mad treasure hunt.

Learning the history of how Mazzucchelli have been making the finest acetate since 1849.

The Mazzucchelli acetate used to make OD frames.

You are using Mazzucchelli acetate, which is one of the best materials around. Was it always the intention to use this for the construction of your frames and what is it that makes it so good?


O: We spent a long time researching materials and when it came to acetate it was always Mazzuchelli that came up. Their colours are beautiful and there's a density to the acetate that just isn't matched by other manufacturers; this feeling of the frames having weight and strength when you hold them was important to us. We then went to the factory in Italy and we were shown around by Mr Crespi. It was just incredible. They’ve been at it since 1849, so this heritage plus everything we’d learned meant we just had to use their acetate.

Discarded leather offcuts are used to produce OD cases.⠀⠀

"Late nights. Borrowed workshops. Battered soft office hands. Make it happen."

"OD cases are tough, smell lovely and free with every frame."

Sometimes high-end eyewear is badly let down by the cases that they come in. This is definitely not the situation with Oscar Deen. Can you explain how the cases came to be part of the overall story?


S: We wanted to do something different from what was out there already so we reached out to a friend of ours called Otis Ingrams. He designs beautiful leather goods and we worked together with him to design a case that is simple, stylish and effective. Otis recommended a recycled material called bonded leather. It being recycled was obviously a positive but it was also sturdier than normal leather, which means the frames are really well protected. The case is made from two pieces of bonded leather, four rivets and a Sam Browne button.

Sheriff-Deen and Oscar in London.

"Vintage frames form the base of our designs. We take over from there."

"Discovered in Paris, re-imagined in London"

And finally, who would be your dream customer, dead or alive, and what frame are they wearing?


O&S: As two massive Gooners riding a glorious wave at the moment, we’d have to say Ian Wright, and we reckon he’d love a pair of Pandas!


All images c/o Oscar Deen @oscardeeneyewear

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