With no prior experience in design or the eyewear industry, Ali Mehrdad and Stefan Foster somehow managed to launch not only a successful business, but a full-fledged trend that’s taken the fashion world by storm.
The duo, who first got together to create Front Row Mode (their Dubai-based consultancy agency), joined forces once again early last year to create Roberi and Fraud—the brand responsible for tiny sunglasses trend.
Since their launch, the ultra-chic Matrix-esque sunglasses have barely covered the faces of everyone from Bella Hadid and the Kardashian clan to Lady Gaga. And a year since launch, the list of A-listers wearing the brand continues to grow, with everyone trying to get their hands on a pair.
The brand’s success is no doubt impressive. With big names sporting their looks, from the widely popular ‘Frances’ to the super tiny ‘Doris’ style—Mehrdad and Foster barely needed to put any energy in to their marketing.
Their Instagram profile—which boasts a stellar 77,000 followers—is chock-full of paparazzi shots of the world’s most recognized faces wearing Roberi and Fraud, with the latest being the recently released (and hilarious) snapshots of Rihanna wearing a pair from the brand’s recent collaboration with jewellery designer Kristen Noel Crawley, in the midst of an argument with her rumored boyfriend Hassan Jameel.
But while at first glance their approach to the business is seemingly blasé—Mehrdad and Foster’s plans for Roberi and Fraud were in fact calculated. And based on their success, it’s almost like the duo cracked the code of what it takes to build a brand in 2018.
To get a little better understanding of what it took to build Roberi and Fraud, we caught up with Mehrdad to talk about how they got the idea for the brand, starting a trend, and how stylists can make or break a brand.
Roberi & Fraud was an instant success. Tell us how it all began?
I wouldn’t use the words “instant success” because nothing really happens overnight, however with our consultancy and branding background and the support of the people around us, and close friends, we were able to reach a level of recognition in a timeframe that is very rare for any brand.
What inspired the idea to create an eyewear brand?
There was no inspiration necessarily; it was mostly down to business rather than fashion and inspiration.
You really hit the mark by being bang on trend. How did the design of your line come about?
Having consulted for well-known brands, as well as up and coming brands, it just made sense to do our own thing. It was an idea that’s sort of been there for a while.
What do you think the allure is behind the tiny sunglasses craze going on right now?
Every style in the eyewear market has already been done over and over again, what we did was bring back the shapes that were popular in the 90’s.
What do you think makes a brand gain a cult appeal?
A good brand is a brand that focuses and targets stylists because it’s all in their hands. They have the power to make or break the brand.
We see a lot of emerging labels popping up on social media, but you’ve managed to very quickly rise up the ranks. What would you say is key in terms of marketing?
The key is knowing the right people in the industry and having the right PR to help you expedite the process, this is in addition of course, to having a good product.
Where do you see Roberi & Fraud heading next?
As of right now we are working on a few collaborations for the coming months.
Who are your style obsessions right now?
Solange, Laura Harrier and Oprah.