Our Brushfield Street resident, Ollie Quinn, is home to stylish and affordable eyewear including both optical lenses and sunglasses. We love Ollie Quinn frames for their exceptional quality and consistent, accessible pricing (every pair is £105) and know our Spitalfields shoppers feel the same. We caught up with Michael Andersen, the founding CEO, to get behind the brand and find out a little bit more…
What inspired you to start Ollie Quinn? Do you have a brand ethos? Talk to us about what OQ stands for and what you hope to achieve/have already achieved as a brand…
Good intentions and a reasonable amount of naivety (is it okay to start this with a bad joke?).
In all seriousness, Ollie Quinn was inspired by one basic ethos: Create Your Own Vision. When we started, it was pretty simple: we wanted to produce fantastic frames at reasonable prices, satisfying a gap in the market.
Our attitude to quality product and pricing hasn’t changed over the years; however, our vision has evolved. By engaging with the communities we operate in at a grassroots level, we aim to support the varied lifestyles of our customers through more than just great glasses.
Whether it’s helping our customers see better by improving our service offering (we now offer contact lenses) or supporting local artists by providing free gallery space in our shops, our goal is to help those in our communities create their own visions while we continue to bring our own vision to life as a young, evolving brand.
What do you love most about Spitalfields and why did you choose to open a store here?
Spitalfields Market has such a vibrant, eclectic offering – we love that it buzzes with this unique energy that attracts locals and tourists alike. Early in the OQ journey, we identified Spitalfields as a key destination for our brand, and today, it continues to be a personal favourite of mine and a store our team loves to work in.
What is your favourite Ollie Quinn style and why?
I’m a big fan of a frame we have launching this summer – so much so, I ran off with the prototype (sorry product team!). The Sawyer is a classic rectangular frame with a little added flare that looks great on a lot of faces.
What would you say separates Ollie Quinn from its competitors?
At OQ, we pride ourselves on having something for everyone – whether that’s a trendy pair of cat-eye shades or a timeless pair of stainless steel specs. Our glasses are high quality and thoughtfully designed by passionate creatives who strive to integrate community feedback into each and every frame. Our communities are at the centre of everything we do, and including them in our design process is a no-brainer for us.
But as mentioned earlier, we’re not just about the glasses. We are active members of the communities we operate in and have over 20 events and activations going on each month. I have now been to live music nights, poetry readings, vintage clothing pop-ups, vinyl trading sessions, yoga classes and even a pop-up tattoo parlour at our stores.
Another thing I think sets us apart is our incredible team. When you walk into an Ollie Quinn boutique, you encounter laid-back, helpful team members who are genuinely interested in chatting and getting to know you. No one here is going to push you into buying something you’re not comfortable in so they can make their daily numbers. We’re just excited to meet you!
Talk us through the process of creating new OQ collections?
As a purveyor of modern classics, we have one eye on the future and one eye on the past. We look for inspiration in social and fashion trends while reviewing historical cycles and patterns.
Our design process is therefore a blend of identifying exciting new opportunities and understanding the favourites within our existing range to ensure we have something for each of our customers. Feedback is essential to the process and we encourage it from our team, customers and communities.
From there, our Head of Product, David, works closely with our designers to create unique designs we feel our communities will love.
Our team takes turns trying on each and every sample, weighing the pros and cons of each design before deciding which ones will be welcomed into our offering.
The final step is to name the frame after a member of the OQ family whose personal style aligns with that design – it’s a fun way to bring the amazing people who comprise our brand to the forefront.