In an exclusive interview with The National, Alana Hadid tells us about the eyewear brand that's inspired by her family
Alana and Marielle bring Hadid eyewear to the UAE
The Hadids continue to conquer the fashion industry: while Gigi and Bella are dominating catwalks, the elder Hadid daughters, Alana and Marielle, who are the half-sisters of the famous models, have launched an eyewear brand in collaboration with their father, Mohamed Hadid. Naturally, the trio used their shared name as the moniker of the brand. “Hadid was the idea from the beginning, because my dad, he’s the Hadid, and it really represents our brand and our family,” Alana explains.
Although the 32-year-old designer didn’t have any prior experience in creating sunglasses, she has worked as a personal stylist and shopper in Los Angeles, where she is based. She has also collaborated with other fashion brands in the past, and explains that she has always been drawn to eyewear – especially vintage frames. “I own about 100 pairs, but I don’t wear all of them. I keep them in vintage cases like the ones you see in stores,” she says.
The debut range by Hadid Eyewear includes shapes and styles to suit all face shapes, and the shades are named after facets of the family’s globe-trotting lifestyle. Frequent Flyers are large and oversized, Jetsetters are dramatic and angular with a sleek cat-eye shape, and Runway styles are retro-inspired, with the option of rose tints. Mile High, Nomad and Passport Control are the names of some of the other styles, and prices range from Dh550 to Dh620. Alana says that she personally gravitates
towards larger sunglasses, even though smaller frames may be trending at the moment. “The Frequent Flyers are larger and they’re great for travel, and I know Middle Easterners like to travel a lot,” she says. “But the whole range is very wearable.”
While Alana may come across as a quintessential California girl, she also identifies with her father’s Palestinian roots. When asked which of her eyewear styles she believes will be most popular in the Middle East, she says: “Well, we are Middle Eastern, and we’ve tried them on all of our faces, so I’d like to say all of them.” She reveals that her father’s favourites are the Captain sunglasses, which feature tinted aviator-style clip-on frames over optical glasses. “If you see his Instagram, those are kind of like his signature, and they’re very utilitarian,” she explains.
There’s also a charitable aspect to the brand: the Hadids have pledged to donate five per cent of all sales to the Vision of Children Foundation, a San Diego-based non-profit organisation that helps children who suffer from blindness or genetic vision disorders.
Alana made the calculated decision to create her own design schedule with Hadid Eyewear, rather than follow the fashion industry’s usual spring/summer and autumn/winter seasons. “I think in accessories, and even in fashion, the traditional seasons have fallen away, and younger companies aren’t really following that,” she explains. “Customers want new things more quickly now.” She plans to regularly introduce new colourways and styles to keep the momentum going.
Since launching in February, the brand has been picked up by stockists and e-tailers all over the world – including an Australian site called Speqs, which lets users virtually try on the sunglasses via its app, Alana says. In the UAE, Hadid Eyewear has recently landed at Bloomingdale's and Harvey Nichols in Dubai.
Alana says that Instagram has been instrumental in launching and promoting the business. “It’s huge. Instagram is the biggest platform for everyone now. All the big brands are using it, and younger clients wouldn’t necessarily know about a brand if it wasn’t for Instagram,” she says.
Since she’s a sibling of the uber-famous Gigi and Bella, we had to ask if they had been recruited to help spread awareness to their combined 50 million (and counting) Instagram followers. But, as Alana points out, her business-savvy sisters have eyewear partnerships of their own, and their contracts may prohibit them from promoting a competing brand.
“Gigi and Bella both have sunglasses collaborations with other brands in their own work, so they have an obligation to those, but they’ve been as supportive as they can be,” says Alana. She emphasises that while she may have drawn inspiration from her family, Hadid Eyewear isn’t a brand owned by every single member of the Hadid clan. “It’s a brand by me, my dad and my sister Marielle,” she says. “It’s kind of been my baby.”