Behind the Overnight Rise of Kendall Jenner's New Favorite Sunglasses Label
How the designers behind the (affordable!) Insta-famous Roberi & Fraud went from zero to a hundred real quick.
If you follow a Hadid and/or Jenner on Instagram (no judgment), you've likely seen a model or two in a pair of almond-shaped, dark wire-frame sunglasses. The ladies seem to have been wearing the styles non-stop, the perfect topper to their edgy, highly-imitated, off-duty looks.
But these aren't the newest Dior creations, or Saint Laurent, or Fendi, for that matter. The '90s-inspired shades reminiscent of something out of 1999's The Matrix (Doris, $195) or 1995's Clueless (Betty, $175), are from Roberi & Fraud — part of the first drop from the New York/Dubai-based line, which is accessibly priced under $200.
If you've never heard of the brand, that's because they've gone from idea to Instagram fashion sensation virtually overnight. Ali Mehrdad and Stefan Foster, the self-taught designers/PR managers responsible for the label, only conceived of it six months ago, after years helping their own clients with design and merchandising.
"We have zero experience when it comes to the eyewear market, but we talked to fashion consultants that have worked with eyewear specifically, and they said it would take one to two years just to get the label off the ground," Mehrdad told The Hollywood Reporter over the phone from Dubai. "They said it would takes six months just to make samples, and you need at least three samples. But we’re not the most patient..."
To speed up the process, they hired an English teacher in China to translate during meetings with their Hong Kong-based factory. "We had our samples in just three weeks."
The duo, who met in grade school in Dubai and co-founded the UAE-based agency Front Row Mode, say their years facilitating deals in the Middle Eastern market for Burberry, The Row and Charlotte Ronson, as well as department stores Bergdorf Goodman and Harvey Nichols, have made them privy to what works for brands and what does not.
"The fashion market is really saturated right now," said Foster, who splits his time between Los Angeles, New York and Dubai. "The only markets that aren't oversaturated are eyewear and shoes."
Though the ecommerce site for Roberi & Fraud just launched on April 22 (the only current place to find the shades for pre-order, though deals with other stocklists are in the works), the brand held its official launch party during Paris Fashion Week at hotspot Caviar Kaspia.
With the help of L.A.-based laChambre PR, which began working with the brand in early April, the glasses made their way to musician Banks and model Hanne Gaby Odiele as well as the Jenner and Hadid girls, whose fans are the target, label-obsessed millennial audience.
Sahar Sanjar, president and founder of laChambre, attributes the popularity of the Doris style to its "throwback" vibe.
In the end, the name — which, Mehrdad added, was inspired by a video from YouTube personality Joanne the Scammer in which she says she enjoys "robbery and fraud" — is everything to the designers. "Our customer wants to say what label they're wearing. And we want them to want to say, 'This is Roberi & Fraud.'"