Urban Owl is a trendy and successful Greek retro-style sunglass brand created by young entrepreneurs in 2015, in the heart of the financial crisis. In fact, it was through crowdfunding from Indiegogo that the Urban Own team managed to raise the start-up amount for their first production.
Their products are known for their skillfully hand-crafted, innovative, well-researched and creative designs. This is probably why the company recently managed to achieve collaboration with iconic Greek fashion designer and branding expert Yannis Tseklenis, with a design he made especially in collaboration with Urban Owl that launched to the public very recently.
From the mid-1960s’ and until today, Tseklenis managed to put Greece on the global fashion map through his visionary designs and proud persistence of labelling his clothes with “Made in Greece”. Amongst his many feats as a legendary fashion persona, he has designed professional uniforms (such as those for Olympic Airways), hotels, décor items, industrial planning, and even the Athens Metro carriages.
GCT spoke with Dimitris Diamandis, the founder of Urban Owl, to find out more about the collaboration, which bridges a younger generation of fashion designers with more classic Greek vision, despite Tseklenis’ outlook always being fresh and contemporary nonetheless. “Our target audience is men and women aged 27-45 who are passionate about culture, urban exploration (new city spots, festivals, architecture), fashion, artistry, music, European brands, and a mix-and-match mentality. We have a presence both offline at boutique opticians and concept stores in the Greek islands and online mainly through our website. Interestingly, the way we design and select colors I would say is more “Mediterranean”, so we sell more to countries that love color!” Diamandis says.
When asked how the idea to ask Yiannis Tseklenis for a collaboration, Diamandis says: "First of all we thought it would be great to work with him because of our great admiration; he is our favorite Greek designer! And he is not only an amazing designer but also a mentor in Marketing and Branding," he says.
“The basis for the synergy was his 1972 design ‘Voodoo’; we saw a raw design for sunglasses. Firstly, we made some illustrations with 4-5 different approaches and then we decided with him what the final technical design should be. When we were ready to choose colors, we all sat down and agreed on combinations.”
“Tseklenis’ concept was to create the embodiment of his Voodo design. Voodoo was launched in 1972 as a thematic collection and was a huge success. The pattern was based on an Indonesian mask; the colors were so bold and vibrant that they elevated the idea of Voodoo into something iconic and timeless. It still looks fresh.” Last Friday Urban Owl launched the design to the public, Diamandis says, adding “Everyone present was deeply moved by this magical interaction, and we were especially touched when Tseklenis said that he trusts Urban Owl with the heritage of his patterns to make sunglasses... So we are already working on our second synergy with him!”
Urban Owl has in the past worked with designers Ioanna Kourbela, Ozon, Cutcuutur, Arpyes and Studiomateriality. In the future, they plan to collaborate with designers from Spain, France, and Italy too. “When we started out we sold digitally only and then we altered our business model to target wholesale. It was an evolution that brought huge brand awareness. It seemed almost as if Greek handcrafted sunglasses were expected in the global market! Our design style also shifted to new retro, with fresh, edgy colors combined with retro-influenced designs,” says the Urban Owl founder.
Like many young and contemporary brands today, exceptional quality, unique style, and attractive design is not enough when you run a company. You have to think beyond what goes into the bank and make sure you’re showing consideration, care and responsibility for the world around you too. When asked what Urban Owl’s deeper principles are, beyond fashion and creativity, he says “To be environmentally ethical and responsible. The small (flakes) leftovers from production are recycled and the bigger ones that can be hand-processed are up-cycled into pendants with the Urban Owl logo engraved, given for free. The paper we use for our packaging is recycled and 86% of our whole packaging is produced in a local workshop. We are also active supporters of Fashion Revolution Greece, which is part of the global organization standing for ethical human and environmental conscience in fashion.”