Nicholas Dellaportas on Taylor Morris' new collection and selling sunglasses to Sheiks
Sunglasses are a staple in any Middle Eastern wardrobe; transcending gender, age and trend.
A pair should, when looked after, last a lifetime. The animalistic magnetism one can muster from a delicately perched pair is like nothing else, so finding the right frames can be quite the heruclian task.
Enter Taylor Morris, the seven-year-old sunglasses brand hailing from Notting Hill, London. A relative new comer in the highly-saturated market, with its standout frames, wavey lenses and a big-fit vibe, Taylor Morris quickly cemented itself as one to watch even amongst the plethora of well-established eyewear giants, framing the famous-faces of style royalty such as Harry Styles, Em Rata and David Gandy.
Launching exclusively in Harvey Nichols in Dubai in 2015, Taylor Morris has become a key player in the ME luxury market. From selling shades to Sheik's at the Polo in the AUE, to becoming one of the leading independent sunglasses brands on Ounass - Taylor Morris has taken the Middle East by storm.
So how does a classically British brand make its mark in the ME? Esquire Middle East spoke to founder Nicholas Dellaportas to find out what makes Taylor Morris tick.
If you wanted an example of the kind of man who wears Taylor Morris, Dellaportas is it. When we chat on a summers morning in London, he’s dressed in a crisp blue shirt and there’s a pair of Taylor Morris sunglasses placed artfully on his head. There’s no flashy style - it’s just cool, classic and very English.
ESQUIRE: So Nicholas, where have you been spending your lockdown summer so far?
Nicholas Dellaportas: I’ve been spending the majority of my time in our new space of our flagship store in Notting Hill. We wanted to launch in March but of course lockdown delayed that so instead we’ve been working on building the interior of the store and focussing on our digital strategy. I’ve spent a lot of time in the same four walls recently so it’s been a great way to really get to know our new space.
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The time for our doors to swing open have nearly come. So make sure you save the date!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We are officially opening our flag ship store on the bustling Golborne Road on 15th of June and we couldn't be more excited. Faced with the current situation we like many retail businesses are needing to adapt, change and evolve in order to provide a safe and comfortable environment for our customers and team. We have therefore decided to launch a bespoke appointment service to provide the ultimate Taylor Morris Experience. Enjoy exclusive access to the store with complimentary drinks and one of our experienced sales staff to help you find your perfect frame... keep an eye out for updates! We look forward to seeing you all soon and in the meantime the sun will keep shining and we must all keep smiling. With Love the Taylor Morris Team
ESQ: Where’s your favourite place to visit in the Middle East?
ND: I’d have to say Abu Dhabi. I went trekking in the desert a few years ago, we saw some amazing falconry whilst we were there - it was really one of those once in a lifetime experiences. As a brand Taylor Morris goes to the British Polo Day in Dubai every year. It’s a great opportunity for us to speak to people in the Middle East about our products and brand vision. It’s also a lot of fun. The last time we went we actually had a few Sheik’s purchasing pairs of our sunglasses from our pop up boutiques, which was great.
ESQ: So I know you guys sell the sunglasses in Dubai, do you see the Middle East as the leading luxury fashion market?
ND: The Middle East has maintained a demand for luxury fashion that transcends style and trends - these are people who like to dress well and know exactly what they’re looking for. It’s a market we always knew we would break into and so far it’s working out really well. The ZERO in ivory and the H.F.S are our most popular styles in the Middle East.
ESQ: So, Nicholas, do you have any personal style icons?
ND: [laughs] Do you know, I don’t have specific figures who I draw to for style inspiration. What i’m interested in is eras, times in history where there has been a way of dressing that I like. If I was going to say anybody i’d say Arthur Ashe (the three time grand slam winning American tennis player) - I love that classic sports style. We've designed our frames to outlast trends, we wanted to create products that you can wear for years and they will continue to be stylish.
"We want to connect to our community, one of our frames is named after Golborne Road which is now where our flagship store is, seven years after we started out as a brand. We're coming home."
ESQ: Now Taylor Morris prides itself on it's design quality, can you tell me a bit about that?
ND: Our general style is inspired by pop culture icons of the 1960s, including Mick Jagger and Steve McQueen. The frames have subtle details that set them apart from other brands, we use Mazzucchelli 1849 Italian acetate [a marker of quality in the industry] to just give them that added quality finish. They're also very durable, you could have the wildest of summers you can imagine and your sunglasses should be still standing there with you at the end of it. We wanted to make a product that is going to keep up with our customers - and it does.
ESQ: What made you decide to base your new collection on Notting Hill?
ND: Each style of glasses is named after local streets in West London, we have ones like Clarendon and Elgin which are all places that mean something to us as a brand. We want to connect to our community, one of our frames is named after Golborne Road which is now where our flagship store is, seven years after we started out as a brand. We're coming home! We’ll always be a London based brand, but we’re taking London into the international space which is really exciting.
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The Taylor Morris Space, the only place in the world you can try on our full optical and sun collections.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Displayed in antique Indian spice racks, our frames are fully sanitised and ready for you to find your perfect pair. Find us at 74 Golborne Road, Notting Hill.
ESQ: And looking at my face now, what sunglasses would you recommend?
[I show Dellaportas my face, which for those wondering is square set with a wide jaw. Dellaportas looks quickly at my features and recommends me a pair so stylish that I end up purchasing them that afternoon.]
ND: We offer bespoke face shape guidance in our flagship store, so for us we can spot someone when they walk through the door and find them the perfect pair. For you I’d recommend the George Arthur or the ZERO.
ESQ: How do you see luxury men’s fashion / style moving forward?
ND: I think we’re seeing a move towards timeless pieces, items that are just ageless. We recently did a collaboration with Morgan Motors, the British heritage motorcar company, where we redesigned the traditional 1930’s racing goggles. We blended in modern sunglasses designs with something that is almost a hundred years old to create a truly unique product. We love to showcase British heritage brands. This summer we’re focussing on capturing the essence of a British summer - think sunsets in the Cotswolds.
We’ve also just launched our debut optical collection so for the brand we’re moving towards becoming a classic heritage glasses brand - which is incredible.
All styles are available to buy at www.taylormorriseyewear.com where they offer shipping to the ME.
Interview by Frances Leach