We love that you advocate ‘Slow Fashion’. What does being sustainable mean to you?
Claire / Kristen – For auór it means doing everything as socially responsible as we can. This means producing short runs of our products, choosing to use plant based cellulose acetate over petroleum based plastic for our frames, recycling the off-cuts of our frames to produce accessories, working in a transparent supply chain, shipping our products in compostable packaging, knowing our makers personally and staying true to traditional handmade craftmanship. Above all it’s about designing products that people are going to have for a lifetime. For us is about quality over quantity whilst leaving as little an impact on the planet as possible.
If you each had to pick only one pair of auór sunglasses to wear for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Claire – Definitely Franca in Honey Tort. It’s my spirit frame. I love its bold and warm tortoiseshell, which works well as an accompaniment to my minimal wardrobe. It gives outfits that little bit of pop that sets you apart in a crowd. It’s fun yet classic and I love the modular feel of its rectangular shape.
Kristen - Valentina in Honey Tort. I’m always drawn to cat eye shapes because they suit my face and the Honey Tort is classic enough to wear with everything but different enough to feel a bit unique and add subtle pop to your outfits.
You’re based in Sydney. How would you describe Aussie style in 3 words.
Claire – Individual. Understated. Effortless.
Kristen – Relaxed. Clean. Unique.
You work solely with Italian cellulose acetate producers and you’ve mentioned that your lenses are also Italian and the hinges are made in Germany. Was it difficult finding these producers? What did that process look like?
Claire – The choice to use German hinges was made purely for quality reasons. Our manufacturers in Italy have been crafting eyewear traditionally for some time, so their knowledge of the best materials is second to none. With their expertise, and seeing the hinges first hand, we made a decision to use them to ensure that our frames were going to be as strong as possible and stand the test of time.
Kristen - It was also important to us that if we were to manufacture outside of Australia, that all of the components should not have to travel far to make the final product. So being able to source the majority of items from Italy was really exciting.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned since starting the label?
Claire - That there is no race and you can start a label by going slow, being methodical and working within your means. You can be the master of your own destiny just by purely believing in yourself, believing in your vision and taking a leap of faith. It’s great that we are living in a time where we the nine to five is slowly dissipating and Kristen and I are living proof of that.
We are independent women, mothers, students and business owners that work hard but allow for balance and flexibility in our lives too. Which I think makes auór what it is: genuine, effective and manageable. It also allows for creativity and ideas to flow better.
Kristen - How special and powerful collaboration can be!
Do you have any advice for young designers wanting to start a label or business with a close friend or partner?
Claire - I think it’s really important that you both have similar yet complimentary aesthetics and both bring different skills to the table. You also need to be able to criticise and support each other in a constructive and growing way. Kristen and I spent several years working with one another before we started auór. So, we had the perfect balance of friendship, professional experience and a shared desire to use our skills to start something together. I’m not afraid to tell Kristen if I don’t like something and vice versa. It’s never personal, we just agree to disagree or challenge each other, and problem solve and then move on. So, don’t believe those people who always say don’t mix business and friendship. It just has to be the right dynamic.
Kristen - Completely agree that sharing the same vision and having the right dynamic is key. So is trust in each other and always keeping an open dialogue. If you can’t speak honestly with each other there is no room for growth or pushing things to the next level creatively.
How would you describe each others style?
Claire – I’ve always admired Kristen’s style from the get-go. Kooky yet considered. She has a wonderful way of mixing eclectic tones, shapes and textures in a way that is truly unique to her. Kristen is honestly a pioneer of individuality with fashion. She’s beautifully subdued and understated with her style one minute but then switches into show stopper mode the next. I love her unpredictability and she’s the best person in the world for honest fashion advice.
Kristen - Claire has a beautiful style which feels both artistic and chic and I’ve always admired the way that her style is expressed so consistently through all aspects of her life, from the way she puts together a meal, decorates her home or through her fine art practice. She is so considered and minimal and yet always appears effortless and unique.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever been given?
Claire - From my beautiful mother. That feelings are like the weather. They come and go like clouds or sun, they loom elsewhere, out of sight, and approach at their appointed time. Those words have played a crucial role in my understanding of the fleeting nature of the present. We live in a world and a time that demands a lot from us, so when things get a little unpredictable or unsettling, I always come back to the idea that everything is only temporary to propel myself to keep going.
Kristen - Trust your gut, if it’s too hard it’s probably not working, structure your time, and work within your means.
Do you face many challengers as designers? If so, how do you best overcome these challenges?
Claire / Kristen – There are always unplanned challenges with any design particularly in the fine details. It’s important to keep pushing for what you want and not lose sight of your intended vision or outcome. It’s better to dig a little deeper and problem solve rather than give up when things get tough. Completely removing yourself from obstacles and looking at them from another angle always helps. If in doubt hit the pavement and walk it out like Bill Gates.
Lastly, what’s next for auór? Is there any new products in the works that we should know about?Claire / Kristen – Lets just say we are fresh from a summer in Europe and we’re thinking big. We’ve got our most exciting eyewear shapes yet in the pipeline for 2020 and you’ll be seeing something new for auór but still in keeping with our classic, feminine and simplistic style. There will be a little something for every face and pretty new palettes of colour.