Toronto-raised founder Doris Ngie talks about the label’s innovative sizing and materials, sustainability initiatives and famous fans.
Seen on the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Hailey Bieber and Gigi Hadid, Amavii is a standout name in the eyewear game — but not simply because of its celebrity fans. Launched by Toronto-raised entrepreneur Doris Ngie, the brand sets itself apart thanks to the use of novel materials as well as its attention to customers who have been long overlooked.
“We were trying to solve a pain point,” say Ngie about what inspired her to start the direct-to-consumer label in 2018. “As an Asian woman, I have a wider face and lower nose bridge. I was shopping in Milan — one of the fashion capitals of the world — and was looking for sunglasses. I went from store to store but couldn’t find anything that fit me.”
Ngie, whose background is in the e-commerce and retail distribution areas of the fashion industry, continued to notice the lack of range in the optical space and wondered why there weren’t “sizing options for eyewear like there are for clothing.” She looked further into the issue by asking others about their experiences shopping for glasses, and realized that people found many styles weren’t suited to their particular needs. Some even admitted to buying children’s glasses because other items didn’t fit properly, while others spoke of the physical discomfort that came from wearing ill-fitting and heavy eyewear.
Determined to address these oversights, Ngie devised three fit options for the bounty of styles Amavii would come to offer, which vary from classic shapes to more fashion-forward silhouettes like the quirky, geometric “Piago.” Customers can take a brief fit quiz online to find out which size is best for them, and also receive recommendations on styles — a boon considering how little IRL shopping we do these days.
Ngie — whose current favourite pair is the new “Mylo” shape that comes in a variety of colourful pops — notes that the fact the brand sees so many repeat customers is a testament to the benefit of providing them this very personalized service, not to mention offering easy exchanges and a three-year warranty.
Amavii’s skyrocketing success isn’t only due to its focus on inclusivity and customer service; the brand’s adoption of Aerospace Titanium — an extremely durable, light and strong material that’s been used in the fine jewellery industry for years — makes its shades comfortable for long periods of wear. Hadid rocked her Amaviis numerous times during fashion week last year, an interesting point considering street style has traditionally emphasized newness in one’s wardrobe, not how versatile and long-wearing an item should be.
“It was a key moment for our brand,” Ngie says of Hadid’s repeat wears of Amavii’s “Benjamin” aviator style, adding that celebrities have many options when it comes to what they wear. “The fact that they’re organically choosing to wear our sunglasses has validated that we’re doing the right thing here.”
And speaking of doing the right thing, Ngie nods to Amavii’s partnership with trees.org as another critical aspect of the company’s recipe for success. Thanks to its “Buy A Pair, Plant A Tree” campaign, the brand has contributed to the planting of over 20,000 trees so far.
“It really does add meaning to what we’re doing because we’re not just a business, we’re also giving back,” Ngie says, noting that the brand has also donated to COVID-19 response support and breast cancer organizations in the past. “Climate change is something that’s always on my mind, and I’m always considering what sort of world we want to leave for the next generation,” she goes on. Not surprising considering looking forward is certainly her forte.