Interview with Simon Jablon
What excites you creatively at the moment? Right now I'm looking to move home, so right now I'm really inspired by interior design and furniture. I'm slightly obsessed! You used to work with your father managing properties and manufacturing other eyewear brands. What about this upbringing prepared you for life with your mother’s revamped brand? Everything, it gave me the bases of what I do now. As with all businesses times change and to be at the front you need to be able to adapt and change with them. We are always looking to grow and improve every element of the company. But what I learnt under my father put me in good stead. What influence has your mother had over your take on the brand and how does that drive you moving forward? My mother set the tone of the business, she was a pioneer of her time and never sat back and accepted basic as a standard. Because of that we have had to always elevate ourselves above and beyond what is normal. As a design company, you always should be innovative. You started your first business at 14 with a mail order company. What drives your entrepreneurial spirit and how has that passion shaped your current business mindset? I'm not sure if it was nature or nurture? From an entrepreneurial side I think it is something that was just inside me. I knew from a very early age I was always going to run my own business, there was never another option. What key moment from your past do you find has had the biggest impact in shaping you as a creative and a business leader? It's very hard to say. My father the businessman and my mother the creative. But both had a hard work ethic and a can do positive outlook on life. As my father would say when I told him an idea I had, "Simon, there are people who do and there are people who don't. What are you?”. And it's true, people like to talk, but you have to go out there and just do, and do it with confidence and commitment. There’s an organic, unplanned tendency to the work you do at Linda Farrow. Where does this off-the-cuff creativity stem from and how do you harness it to create a collection? There is and there isn't. When it comes to the creative side yes, it has to be free from constraints. However we work with long lead times and stick to critical paths. If you do that it means we are able to really deliver a great product and vision from that creative. Nothing worse than a rushed idea. It shows in the execution of the creative and leaves you underwhelmed with the product and brand. Where your interest in fashion is rooted and how does that manifest in your work? From my mother I guess. I was lucky enough to grow up in and around fashion so it is something is absorbed. But for me it is an interest in the arts in general. I love all things creative, whether that be art, furniture or architecture. I love product design in general. Linda Farrow is a brand famous for its reinvention – what made this the right time to refocus men’s eyewear? Well for me being the Creative Director I didn't feel we lacked men's designs, as it is something important to me. However, I understand that the focus of our marketing and brand name can lead people to perceive Linda Farrow as more of a feminine brand. But we took the conscious decision to create a story dedicated solely for men, so that they are able to see our range for them in a slightly different focus. With a company model built on collaborations, how do you choose who to pair with? What makes you gravitate towards one creative mind in particular? We have three cardinal rules: 1- We must love what they do. 2- Between the two brands, we must make a product that has meaning and integrity. There is so much product in the world no one needs more generic stuff just because. We have to make something we are proud of and different from what exists in the market and stands out on its own. 3- The relationship. It's so important the people you partner with you like and share the vision with. Life is hard enough without working with people you do not get along with. The new SoHo boutique arriving next year follows the opening of the Los Angeles location, the first in the United States. Why New York City and why now? Because it is NYC! It's the capital of fashion and retail in general. The reason we are opening now, is because I have been looking for the right location, not just any location. On Greene St is perfect for Linda Farrow. We are now situated alongside the right brands such as LV, Dior, Stella McCartney and Jimmy Choo who are all next door. How do you see the new relaunch affecting men’s eyewear within the fashion market, as Linda Farrow originally pioneered sunglasses as fashion? Hard to say, but our aim is to refocus our male client who may not have known that much about our line as they may have assumed LF is a women's line. How much of yourself has bled into the new LF Man? A great deal, as it is close to my heart and something I can and want to wear. So my personal touch is blended in. The new men’s relaunch focuses on men with interesting stories who don’t necessarily conform to fashion forward characteristics. Why is it important to have this specific emphasis for you and the brand? I wanted to work with men with character and interest. It was not about them as models per se, it was more of an ideal of what a LFMAN is. We are all from different industries, backgrounds and cultures. We all have different jobs and interests. But for me an LFMAN is someone with deeper cultural interests in design, art and fashion. Someone inspirational, a storyteller. We chose 12 successful men and got them together in London for a lunch at the Townhall Hotel which kickstarted the LFMAN project. What “story” does the relaunched LF Man tell? As I say, it's not one story, it's all our stories that are of interest. Getting behind the facade of these really talented and dedicated men, creating a story that really resonates with our customers. Linda Farrow has been operating for 13 years since the relaunch – what makes the brand so timeless and what would you like the brand’s legacy to be? Luckily my mother has already left a legacy, I'm just the custodian of the brand. The DNA has been set and that is quality, focus on design and always looking to push for improvements in everything we do. What is up next on the horizon for Linda Farrow? So many ideas we have, we have a lot to do before we move on too fast.