This past year was undoubtedly a challenging one for minorities, but thankfully, the fashion industry has become more diverse than it's ever been. With different body types and more women of color appearing on the runways and in campaigns, fashion is not only embracing diversity, but it's also responding to it. That's exactly what Covry is trying to do in the eyewear world. After all, not all faces have the same features, and founders Athina Wang and Florence Shin know that, which led the two to create a new type of fit, keeping Asian faces in mind.
While Asian fit glasses have been around for a while — many brands such as Oliver Peoples, Warby Parker, and Karen Walker have alternative fit versions for some of their popular frames — sometimes finding frames that not only fit well but are also stylish can be a long, arduous challenge.
"Growing up in America, it was very hard to find sunglasses that fit us, and at the time we kind of just thought that was just how things were," Wang tells me over the phone. When Wang was younger, she says that she would see pairs of sunglasses worn on the latest pop stars, but whenever she would go to try them on, they wouldn't end up fitting, not knowing that they weren't made with her face shape in mind.
Wang and Shin met in high school, where they became fast friends. "Both of us... wanted to be in fashion since high school, so Athina went to FIDM [in Los Angeles] for fashion design and I went to FIT in [New York]," Shin says. It wasn't long before Wang and Shin were back on the same coast — on the same street, no less — working in fashion PR.
Shortly after, during a trip to visit her grandmother, Wang had an "Aha" moment. "My grandma and I were shopping around, and I was trying on these sunglasses, and I just noticed if I could change specific parts of the sunglasses, they would fit me a lot better," she says. Shin shared the struggle to find well-fitted glasses, so together, they created a Kickstarter campaign for Covry, not only to fundraise for production costs, but to get a feel for whether or not they were alone in this feeling.
As it turns out, they were not — by a landslide. The Covry founders had an overwhelming response from people who also found it frustrating to find glasses that not only fit well, but didn't compromise on style. Three years later, Covry lives and breaths.
For two of those years, Wang and Shin spent their time developing the Covry Elevated Fit. The Elevated Fit has three main differences from the typical glasses: larger nose pads, straight lenses, and wider frames with narrower bridges.
"Since [Asian] nose bridges aren’t [as prominent], we need an extra boost from the frames, so we made those pads bigger," Wang explains. "The lens curve on standard frames slant inwards towards your cheeks. The angles are very severe going straight into your cheeks, so we made the angles much straighter, going straight down instead of into your cheeks." They test the fit of their frames using the smile test — smiling as big as possible to make sure nothing touches the frames.
While the fit of the frames were obviously important, Shin and Wang also wanted to focus on the styles, too.
"There wasn’t a lot of attention for frames that fit differently and I feel like for Asian fit, as the industry calls, it was always an afterthought. For us coming from fashion backgrounds, we always wanted to make sure that stylish frames was one of the priorities," Shin tells me.
"We really wanted to make frames that fit well and were stylish and [were made from] quality products without having the customer feel like they have to compromise one thing for another. That was one thing Athina and I always felt like we had to do — compromise either the price or the style or the fit, so we didn’t want our customers feel like they had to do that."
So how does Covry plan to reinvent the eyewear industry? Wang and Shin not only want to create inclusive glasses styles, but they also want to inspire other eyewear brands to do so, as well. "Not everyone has the same face, and not everything should fit one person. 'One style, one size' doesn’t fit everybody, especially in America [where] it’s such a diverse country. We really try to work hard to bring more attention to that. Hopefully more and more eyewear companies put that, think about that, and take that into consideration when they make their collections too," Wang shares.
Shin echoes Wang's sentiments. "By us offering a different fit, it’s bringing more awareness to it and challenging others to do the same. I think brands are becoming more aware of the diversity in their customers, whether it’s just in their face shape or different body shapes — I think they’re all trying to offer a more customized experience to [accommodate] that."
To check out all of Covry's offerings, visit their website here.