"If you don't know Darkside? You should!" in Máxima
Memorize the name of the new Portuguese brand that creates the sunglasses we've always dreamed of having - and promises us that they'll last a lifetime. Máxima sat down with Carolina Castro, the designer who signed them.
How did this relation with fashion start? How did you came up with an eyewear brand?
I've always been interested in the process that goes from the runway to the street, peoples evolution through fashion and their needs. It started from my childhood. My mother used to run a factory where clothes were made for various brands and I remember spending a lot of time there: I wanted to see everything, collect samples and draw. Strangely, my aesthetic sense and the clothes I wore were always very simple: jeans, white T-shirts or black clothes; then I used to wear a lot of accessories.
The passion for sunglasses, specifically, was inherited from my father, who has very light eyes and always has to wear sunglasses.
What's the story behind Darkside?
I worked for a long time as web designer for an eyewear website, elRockstar, where I learned a lot. In 2015 I started designing the first collection that was released in December, with five models: Draco, Rhea, Corvus, Orion and Ophelia. The inspiration comes from Greek mythology and constellations, with the exception of the Ophelia, which are a reference to Hamlet, that I was reading at the time.
When I designed the first collection I wanted to create timeless sunglasses that would last for generations. Strong sunglasses that carried the personality of the wearer and that were a kind of mask to face the day to day (when I'm drawing I always have this idea of a dark club).
There was a huge acceptance at the very beginning. The collection got in two stores: SCAR-ID and The Feeting Room. In 2016, I launched the Proteus in ModaLisboa.
What's it like to work a brand like this in Portugal, with a well-defined and strong path?
All the production is done in Portugal and I follow the process closely, but achieving this quality takes time: each pair takes several weeks to be made and goes through several hands. The glasses are carved from a plain board of acetate mazzuchelli (the best in the world)? so they can be light and comfortable. The whole production involves a lot of detail.
At the moment, the brand is on sale in several stores in Portugal and we're selling worldwide online.
Is all the creative process in your hands?
Yes, at this moment I dedicate myself entirely to the brand, but I would hardly call it a lonely road. I'm always surrounded by friends who send ideas and when I'm drawing I always have someone in mind.
Mário helps me with graphic design and the last campaign was the result of a joint work with Luís Martins (photographer), Tânia Dioespirro (stylist) and Bé Miranda (make-up artist).
Where do you look for inspiration? What are your main aesthetic references?
I search a lot. I have many books on glasses, I read a lot of magazines and I search images in Pinterest. Inspiration can come from anywhere, but above all I think I it's in the Portuguese spirit. It looks cheesy, but we have an inner strength and a creativity that I like to express in my sunglasses.
Besides the classic black and turtle, I use blue, green, orange, I look for very natural shades of our landscape.
Who's looking for Darkside? Who would you like to see wearing your glasses?
Darkside moves away from the fast fashion brands, so I think that whoever looks for us is someone who wants a quality object above all else. Our brand is targeted at consumers that value a new consciousness: buying less and better. People are getting tired of having a closet full of pieces that they don't use and look for brands with which they identify themselves, not neglecting the good design. Usually, it's a demanding customer, looking for glasses with a classic and timeless design.
I really like Linda Rodin, Iris Apfel, Alexa Chung and Grace Coddington. They're my biggest inspirations, but more than seeing a celebrity wearing sunglasses, I like to imagine that in a few years they'll be objects passing from parents to sons, from generation to generation. That, yes, would be special.
What has been the role of social networks in publicizing the brand?
Social networks are essential, especially when we talk about smaller brands. Through Instagram, I can easily tell the story of the brand through images. In addition to promoting sunglasses, I use social networks to show spaces and places that I like and that inspire me, restaurants, beaches ... We have orders from all over the world from people who discover the brand from Instagram. It's a great work tool.
Where (or how) do you imagine the brand in a year? What projects are you working on now?
I would like to see Darkside as a national and international reference, to continue to follow the evolution we have felt since the launching. I have just released the Proteus Green (they're beautiful)! and right now I'm working on the 2018 collection, to be released in October. I have a lot of work ahead.
What are your dreams for Darkside?
I would liked to change consumers habits. I want to help to spread the word that it's better to shop with conscience. Not only this but also buy Portuguese products, which is the best way to feed our industry.
I want to continue to grow the brand, have more stores out there and get the sunglasses on fashion editorials. Who knows if they'll be on the cover of a great magazine...