A REVIEW OF THE BRITISH EYEWEAR BRAND AFTER A VISIT TO THEIR LONDON WESTFIELD STORE
On a particularly dreary bank holiday in East London, I took it upon myself to brave a hideously packed Stratford Westfield in the hope of dissipating the ominous cloud of post-hangover depression with a spot of retail therapy.
It was here that I happened upon a hidden gem; a little known optometrists and eyewear brand that goes by the name of KITE. Not to bore you with the ins and outs of my optical history; but I am normally a contact lens wearer, and have been happily living a frame-free existence for many years now. But something about this brand caught my eye [no pun intended] immediately.
So I dropped in to check it out. A very enthusiastic individual named Asad, whom I later discovered was one of the four founders of the company, booked me in for a long overdue eye test and I headed back that very week.
The Personal Touch
What struck me immediately upon my return was the service. As I entered I was greeted by one of their Style Advisors Phoebe, who offered me a coffee and sat me down in the waiting area to peruse their array of frames on a mounted tablet whilst I waited for a specialist to see me.
I was then greeted by Salim Juma for my appointment. Also one of the founders, the self-proclaimed "Optician’s Optician" with 17 years of know-how under his belt, was clearly incredibly passionate about his work and filled me with great confidence in his ability.
Salim’s warmth and attentiveness also helped to make a usually pretty uncomfortable experience slightly more bearable [particularly the "poof" of air in the eye – NOT fun].
KITE’s co-founder is clearly a big believer in the service experience of old: “We created KITE because we couldn’t help feeling that the industry we love had lost its mojo. The way we see it, there’s no excuse for the sterile, salesy Optician environment that has become the norm. And who made the rule that eyecare can’t be something to get excited about? The experience was crying out for the personal touch of the good-old days, shaken up with a fresh twist for today. Our mission is to re-design the experience and become the no1 opticians experience brand in the UK.”
An Eye For Design
As a brand KITE pride themselves on their meticulous design process. Each silhouette starts as a good old-fashioned sketch on paper, before being transformed into a 3D model. They will then develop each frame with different temple designs, frame profile shapes and sizes. The designs that make it through are crafted into real-life prototypes using 3D printing, tried and tested for fit and feel, then tweaked if necessary.
Kite have an extensive range of 317 frames across 27 designs, in both clear lens and sunglass styles. Front-runners of their collections are the vintage-inspired styles:
Marshall - A generous frame and slim, straight profile tick all the style boxes.
Martino - An alternative mix of proportions, subtly curved silhouette and keyhole nose bridge – topped off with a smart metal bar.
Pacific - A slick spin on the heritage aviator, redesigned with the modern man in mind.
An enthusiastic Hamir commented on their designs: “We’re a proudly British brand, mixed up with the best from around the world using the highest quality materials. We’ve pulled out all the design stops to make sure every pair of KITEs look amazing and feel like a dream.”
After much deliberation and assistance from my new BFF Phoebe, I opted for the clear winner, the ‘Dean’ frame. Reminiscent of Matt Damon’s effortless aesthetic in the classic Talented Mr. Ripley, the Dean is a retro-inspired style which will appeal to those that favour a refined look that makes a fashion statement without wandering down the dreaded NHS/geek glasses road.
Not all Dean frames are so pared down however - the Camo Havana effect is a slightly bolder choice for those of a dandy-esque persuasion.
Creative Dream Team
Although they are offering a sterling selection of styles at accessible prices, KITE’s USP is undoubtedly in their unique customer experience.
From the minute a new customer first ventures through their doors to leaving with their first pair of specs, customers are made to feel like they're the most important person ever to grace their super shiny floors.
A truly personal experience that is almost lost in todays saturated market of chain-optometrists. So dump that tired looking pair of Red Or Dead’s that you were told were "really edgy" by some one in an ill-fitting polyester suit and haul ass on that overground. Next stop: KITE.