Behind the eyewear label with the most unique lenses is Dionne Ellison. Vuliwear sunglasses are inspired by nature, specifically the awesome colours and patterns of insect eyes. As part of our Global Young Talent in the December issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK, we had the pleasure of speaking to the Philly based designer about the importance of nature and the idea behind Vuliwear.
1. What inspired you to become a fashion designer and more particular an eyewear designer?
I come from a family of fashionistas, my mother was a seamstress who could sew without a pattern and my oldest sister is a fashion designer and artist who brings the Vuli designs to life with her detailed sketches. Growing up we hosted several fashion shows and I was one of the models, so becoming a fashion designer comes naturally. Eyewear on the other hand is a different animal all together. I had no experience in this specific industry, so I had to do a lot of research. When I came across the macrophotography of insect eyes, I was amazed by the beautiful colour and patterns of their compound eyes and the fact that it was hiding right under our noses made me want to explore the possibilities. The first thing that came to mind was sunglasses and Vuliwear was born.
"Growing up we hosted several fashion shows and I was one of the models, so becoming a fashion designer comes naturally."
2. What’s the story behind your brand name Vuliwear?
I wanted to create a brand with a story and a name with meaning that people could relate to. I wanted a name that was different, catchy and easy to remember. Vuli means “shade” in Swahili. As an African American woman, it sometimes makes me sad not knowing exactly where my family was taken from and I often wonder what language they spoke. I don’t speak Swahili, but “vuli” feels right when it rolls off my tongue.
3. Why did nature and insect inspire you for this collection?
I loved the idea that hidden beauty was buzzing all around us. The irony is that we tend to swat to kill flies, wasps and other tiny creepy crawlers, but God creatively adorned many of them with beautiful aesthetics to be appreciated and admired. I wanted this collection to be unique, stylish and exclusive so that each lens design speaks to your personal style. Most eyewear brands focus on the frame, Vuliwear is all about the lenses, which is the first thing you see. It just makes sense to me. Our customers invest in quality fashion that looks and feels great, that’s Vuliwear.
"The irony is that we tend to swat to kill flies, wasps and other tiny creepy crawlers, but God creatively adorned many of them with beautiful aesthetics to be appreciated and admired."
4. What will you take forward from this collection onto your future designs?
Quality, colour and uniqueness are the essence of Vuliwear and will always be incorporated into our products. Look for additional accessories and clothing that will be inspired by nature and other beautiful elements.
5. You’re originally from the USA, and have most recently joined Fashion Crossover London, what inspired the decision to make the leap to Europe?
After attending SILMO (Paris) and MIDO (Milan) eyewear tradeshows I noticed that eyewear appeared to be an important accessory, much more so than in the USA. Optical stores are on every corner. Europeans wear and invest in eyewear like Americans wear and invest in sneakers. I also feel that Europeans appreciate and seeking out new, upcoming designers so why not explore the market. Additionally, our lenses and frames are both made in Italy. It’s a big world and I don’t want to put a limit on something as universal as sunglasses. The sun continues to shine on the world, so see beyond and shade up!
"After attending SILMO (Paris) and MIDO (Milan) eyewear tradeshows I noticed that eyewear appeared to be an important accessory, much more so than in the USA."
Discover Vuliwear's full collection
Words by Reka Dala