The Story Behind Black Eyewear’s First Frames.
The early designs of my Black Eyewear collection took inspiration from glasses of the 1950s. It was a decade of eyewear design that shaped the future of the optical industry.
Babs Odunlami is a London-based men’s stylist with a deeply rooted respect and affinity for menswear. A project manager by day, Odunlami works within some of London’s top tier financial institutions. He founded the men’s lifestyle brand “aTribeCalledStyle” which serves as style inspiration to gentlemen globally while also providing niche wardrobe consultancy services.
We spoke to him about his early style influences, great design and how to choose eyewear.
When did menswear first become important to you?
I have been passionate about style from a young age, but I’ll say menswear became an important part of my life during my teenage years. My personal style was shaped from an early age by sartorial influences from my grandfather, a clergyman and my father, a Chartered Accountant who rose to senior management in an investment bank before retiring. Strict dress codes and maintenance of a corporate image in the banks at the time meant my father paid a lot of attention to his appearance. I keenly admired his dress sense and slowly nurtured my style aspirations. Often dressed up in well-tailored suits, immaculate white shirts and leather shoes buffed to a mirror shine, The influence of these men WAS integral to the formation of my personal style.
How would you describe your personal style?
What are the essential building blocks for creating a look?
I’ve always been an advocate of keeping it simple. Elegance means simplicity and I’d say the essential building blocks for creating a look very much hinges on wardrobe staples like the Navy Blazer, a well tailored navy/grey suit and plenty of crisp white shirts to mention a few. Not forgetting good shoes of course, in the words of Hardy Aimes, “it is totally impossible to be well dressed in cheap shoes”.
How has living in London inspired your craft?
London is arguably the best city to live in and I’ll happily debate this with anyone who differs in opinion. Living in a culturally diverse city like London with a hive of activities lends itself naturally as inspiration. All I have to do is step out of my front door and enter into a world of inspiration everyday.
What drew you to Black Eyewear?
I started wearing prescription glasses a few years back and it proved difficult to find a suitable “off the shelf” pair. Following hours of online research and a visit to the Goodge Street atelier, I was instantly won over. I tried on the “Cannonball” and the rest was history. I’m yet to find any other pair of eyewear that is aesthetically pleasing and functional in equal measure. Needless to say that having my eyewear named after one of my favourite jazz musicians “Cannonball Adderley” adds a rather distinct pleasure.
What tips do you have for others when selecting eyewear?
Know your facial bone structure and find a suitable pair. Not many things are as distasteful as poor fitting eyewear, it’s one of the first things you notice when you meet someone.
Who are your go-tos for accessories?
1.) Alfred Dunhill for luggage and cardholders, I love their simplicity and the fact most of their items are made locally in the Walthamstow factory.
3.) Montblanc – a “Montblanc” fountain pen effortlessly adds style to my signature.
4.) My glasses are an integral part of my daily life; I can’t leave out Black Eyewear
What does great design mean to you?
Great design to me is a product of creativity and meticulous craftsmanship. Aesthetics and functionality are yardsticks for great design.
Who do you look to for style inspiration?
Style to me transcends items of clothing. It should be evident in the way one lives and an individual that has managed to communicate this seamless blend over the years is Mr. Ralph Lauren.
What’s next for aTribeCalledStyle?
The plan is to offer a line of classic menswear. This would give me the ultimate sense of satisfaction.