This Spring/Summer, it's all about Korean sunglasses brand Gentle Monster. Kanye West, Pharrell and Vic Mensa produced music for them. They’ve collaborated with Alexander Wang, Opening Ceremony, Xander Zhou, Places + Faces and even cult actress Tilda Swindon. They've also been sighted on your favourite celebrities, including Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid. Do you see why they're an essential 2019 accessory now?
Who are Gentle Monster?
Like all great monster stories, this one begins at summer camp. Whilst most of us were eating burnt marshmallows and participating in cringey singalongs around a campfire, then English teacher Hankook Kim would meet his future investor in -- entrepreneur Jae W Oh. So charmed and taken by Kim was Jae W Oh, that he agreed to invest in Kim’s business, whatever that may be (I wish my summer camp experience was the same).
Kim’s hunt for business ideas led him to the eyewear industry, particularly the hugely successful direct-to-consumer business model of Warby Parker.
For Asians By Asians
As I and my fellow Asian’s will attest to, finding sunglasses that fit our faces is tough. Yes, the facial features that make us oh so kawaii, are also a bittersweet curse from the gods of eyewear. Our low nose-bridges causes most sunglasses to slide down our faces, requiring constant readjustment. Our high cheekbones act as a cushion for the bottom of the lenses, hello chafe marks and acne. And finally, our wider faces (due to my larger brain size I’m guessing) mean sunglasses pinch our temples. Gentle Monster would be one of the first to introduce ‘Asian fit’ eyewear designed for our facial structures.
▼ Shop the look: Gentle Monster Bees Sunglasses
Big Glasses Make Small Faces
Kim would further monopolize the Asian market by capitalizing on Asia’s fascination with having small faces. Yes, in Asia being told you have a small face is a big compliment. Who would’ve thought such a tiny head could cause such big egos? And one of the easiest ways to get a smaller head is to wear oversized glasses. Gentle Monster entered the market with no competitors in this niche, and we don’t see anyone catching up now either.
▼ Shop the look: Gentle Monster East Moon Sunglasses
▼ Shop the look: Gentle Monster Chameleon Sunglasses
▼ Shop the look: Gentle Monster Jackbye Sunglasses
Uniqueness Through Experimentation
Besides injecting some much-needed inclusivity into the world of sunnies, Kim’s Gentle Monster creates unique eyewear pieces through experimentation. It’s in their paradoxical name, Kim says ‘Gentle’ stands for humble and wearable designs balanced against the ‘Monster’ aspect of attitude and uniqueness. In other words, whether you want something to wear every day, or something more out there, GM has you covered.
▼ Shop the look: Gentle Monster Cold Sunglasses
As if uniqueness wasn’t enough, Gentle Monster’s will give your other sunnies a run for their money in the quality department too. The brand acquired a factory in Daegu, Korea which used to be the center of production for Luxottica Group (the Italian manufacturers who design and produce frames for Ray-Ban, Persol and many designer fashion houses) before they shifted to China. This allows them to create high-quality eyewear at a reasonable cost. Their lenses are made by Zeiss of super sharp camera lens fame. Alongside your standard cellulose acetate and steel frames, Gentle Monster experiments with chrome, titanium and other premium metals.
▼ Shop the look: Gentle Monster Chrome Sunglasses
▼ Shop the look: Gentle Monster Baguette Sunglasses
Gentle Monster has been behind some of the retail world’s most creative and intellectually stimulating store interiors. Not content with the racks of glasses and mirrors that typify your usual eyewear shopping experience, Gentle Monster stands head and shoulders above it’s competition with exciting experiential retail spaces. Uniqueness is again key, with every respective flagship having its own distinct design and inspiration. What’s more impressive is the free art exhibitions that are hosted within each store. With the display changing every 21 days it creates a fresh experience with every visit. Take a visit to the Hong Kong flagship which replicates the interior of a train carriage alongside video installations and lifesize Figurines.
Complimentary In-Store Customization & Servicing
Whilst Gentle Monster’s frames come in bigger and smaller sizes to fit a whole variety of face shapes, they are designed to be genderless. Feel safe shopping from a variety of unisex styles as long as they fit your face, which they will, thanks to the brand’s next level in-store service. The cellulose acetate used in certain eyewear is easily adjustable to your facial structure due to its resistance to snapping under heating and bending. Take yours to the service desk in the Hong Kong store to get your custom-fitted to your face, it’s free and takes minutes. You’ll also be able to get yours polished and adjusted here until you lose them or accidentally sit on them after too many cocktails.
Gentle Monster x Marine Serre
Gentle Monster has teamed up with brand-of-the-moment Marine Serre to create a range of sunglasses redolent of the Y2K era. The Parisian label brings its highly-coveted crescent logo and futuristic aesthetic to the South Korean eyewear brand, creating serious shades for the arbiters of fashion. The pack consists of two silhouettes – the Visionizer I and Visionizer II – presented in select colourways. Allow us to run you through the nuances between the two.
The Visionizer I is the slimmer silhouette in the Gentle Monster x Marine Serre pack; its lightweight look and feel is patently inspired by extreme sports sunglasses. The collaborative accessory features dual branding: the modish Marine Serre motif is cut out at the bridge, while the words ‘Gentle Monster’ are engraved at the temple. They’re not just pretty, though, they’re also practical – the lenses offer 100% UV protection, meaning that they keep you simultaneously safe and stylish. Mother would be proud.
The Visionizer II is more suited to those who prefer their shades to take up a little more space. Constructed with a curved frame and nylon lenses (mirrored or tinted, depending on your chosen way), the genderless sunglasses are the perfect accessory for pairing with retro summer fits. Not to mention, they also provide 100% UV protection – a superb excuse to wear them whenever you step outside.
Trippy Visual Campaigns
Gentle Monster’s carefully curated visual aesthetic has been art directed to slick perfection. Since its inception, the brand’s campaign visuals present a highly stylised and heavily-saturated depiction of reality that Salvador Dali would be envious of. This seasons collection - dubbed ‘13’ - imagines a world where a shift in the moon’s orbit leads to the creation of a 13th month and explores the ecological and social impacts of this nightmarish new reality. The beautiful 3D-artwork was created by Antwerp based artist Frederik Heyman. Have a peep into this alternate universe below:
EPISODE 1 - NATURE ADAPTATION
EPISODE 2 - COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOUR
EPISODE 3 - MEDIA ADDICTION
Care For Your Gentle Monster Sunglasses
Gentle Monster Acetate Sunglasses
If you purchase a pair of acetate sunglasses from Gentle Monster, the brand advises customers to store them in a cool place. Due to the nature of the material, acetate has the potential to soften when exposed to direct sunlight and other forms of heat. To clean Gentle Monster acetate sunglasses, place them under running water and wipe the frames with a microfibre cloth.
Gentle Monster Metal Sunglasses
If you purchase a pair of metal sunglasses from Gentle Monster, the brand advises customers to avoid putting them in contact with moisture. If metal sunglasses are exposed to moisture – especially liquids containing chemicals – customers run the risk of causing damage to the plating of their sunglasses. For this reason, Gentle Monsters asks customers to regularly wipe the frames with a microfibre cloth.