Eyewear store KITE, headed by a businessman from a former refugee family who works as an optometrist, has been shaking up the industry by fusing fashion with eye care and now looks set to launch a larger store in London next year.
At the helm of the eyewear store is 32-year-old London based entrepreneur, Asad Hamir, who has the optical industry firmly in his DNA, born into a family of 43 optometrists and counting.
He recalls selling his first pair of glasses at the age of 14: “The buzz from that first hustle I still remember today!” he exclaims, as he speaks to Al Arabiya English about the success of first eye-wear boutique that opened in the Stratford Westfield shopping mall in 2014.
Asad’s mother’s family arrived in the UK as refugees from Uganda. The crisis of needing to put food on the table for a family of eight siblings drove his mother to start an optician business.
Mixed with an entrepreneurial drive and having grown up hearing stories of hardship spurred Hamir from a young age to be business orientated.
“Hearing the stories and growing up in this environment teaches you to appreciate what you have but also that you don’t get anything in life until you go out and grab it with both hands. From a young age we were all encouraged to work in the business.”
Since Asad launched his revolutionary vision for eye-wear shopping in 2014, KITE has spent the past two years gaining recognition for its commitment to quality and craftsmanship. German lens technology is by Zeiss whilst the premium bespoke acetates is by industry leaders Mazzucchelli and Italian handmade artisanry.
What sets KITE apart from other optometry businesses is that “We respect the past, whilst embracing unconventional new forms and materials. From traditional artisanship to new technology such as 3D printing, we really feel that we are setting the high standards for tomorrow,” explains Asad.
To make any pair of KITEs requires over 30 total steps of production, including an eight-day tumbling (polishing) process used on each of our frames.
Their plastic frames are made from Cellulose Acetate, which is a natural material that comes from natural cotton flakes, which is turned into a paste, mixed with color to create effects such as tortoise shell and then cured for 30 days before being ready for manufacturing.
Descending from a community of Indian Khoja entrepreneur-adventurers who sailed to East Africa in the 1800s, Asad has already had success launching Telenomics, a successful venture, at the age of 22, with business partner brothers Adarsh and Amar Radia.
In 2014, he started KITE “with a blank sheet of paper” and invited his Telenomics partners to join him.
KITE has been challenging the status quo of eye-wear industry since it opened its first base in Westfield Stratford. There’s a flat fee of £150 for lens and frame, a departure of additional costing often associated with quality, design, prescriptions, protective coatings and anti-glare.
The shopping experience attempts to create a vibe often matched by other fashion accessories like shoes and handbags. For example the store has a multi-touch display which allows customers to take their own selfies with different KITE specs and share with friends and family across social media for getting opinions.
As the eyewear brand looks set to expand its base in London next year, the capital continues to forms part of the inspiration for the designs of the KITE specs: “Londoners are a diverse urban tribe and we create for them. They see things differently and love KITE for their experimental nature but focus on pure design.”