Some Frames Stab Loves: EPØKHE’s Darko
There’s a Tico in southern Costa Rica currently wearing a beautiful pair of English handmade sunglasses that he can’t see a thing through. Unless by coincidence he has a moderate to severe compound myopic astigmatism, which seems unlikely. On returning to my island home, short on funds and in need of a new pair to […]
There’s a Tico in southern Costa Rica currently wearing a beautiful pair of English handmade sunglasses that he can’t see a thing through.
Unless by coincidence he has a moderate to severe compound myopic astigmatism, which seems unlikely. On returning to my island home, short on funds and in need of a new pair to replace my pilfered sun specs, there was only one man to call, and one sunglasses brand that would remedy my need. The ever-generous Dion Agius, and his darling runaway success sunglasses brand Epøkhe.
Epokhe’s an easy one for us to spruik because we all wear them. In exchange for a little write up on their new frame the Darko—a timeless round spec pictured handsomely on the beak of one Creedence McTaggart above—I get to stroll into the cute Epokhe flagship store in the Byron Bay industrial zone and pluck a pair off the rack.
Now, the pair I just lost were by far and away the most cherished pair of sunnies I’ve ever had. The first version I bought from the window of a London boutique whilst on a work trip, and when I lost them I didn’t have eyes for any other shades and bought the exact same pair online. I (or my tired Dutch credit card) couldn’t justify a third swing, but the tobacco Kinos that I lifted off the Epokhe shelf have fast become some of the favourite shades I’ve had. I was tempted by the Darkos, but square’s more my thing. What did strike me, however, was how vast and refined Epokhe’s catalogue was. So, instead of hurriedly busting out some fluff to justify my gratuit sunnies, I decided to dial Dion and find out how their (not so) little operation keeps spinning.
2019 = the return of surfing’s it boy (who happens to have a game changing pair of sig Epokhe shades).
“Each frame is either born out of ideas from the team, things we find on the road or digging through my collection of frames from over the years,” Dion says of the process of bringing an Epokhe frame to life. “I think travelling and people-watching is such a nice way to see frames in action on a variety of different faces. Creed has been incredible with bringing new designs to the brand too, actually, and he always pitches ideas that have done super well.”
The internet killed the last remaining shards of originality, and the sunglasses realm is so tight design-wise, that I’m curious to find out whether some frames are just straight rips offs of something one of the meandering team has found on their travels. Dion admits that it obviously happens, but that it’s the little tweaks that makes a silhouette meaningful. “The most minute changes to a frame make such a huge difference, so it isn’t hard to make something unique, even if you were to use an existing frame as a base,” he says.
Surfing’s followed in skate’s wake in the rider-owned companies department, and there’s a fair few currently operating in the webstore stratosphere. But Epokhe—started by Dion, Mitch Coleborn and Kai Neville seven years ago—is now a more legitimate business than a when-the-time-allows passion project. And the success is much deserved. Dion and co spotted a rider-driven hole in the broader surf market for tasteful shades and filled it with aplomb. “It’ll have been seven years this month, which is just insane to think about,” Dion tells me. “It’s grown a lot over the last few years. We have a pretty big team of people in the office now and have just opened a store in Byron. At this point, we’re just trying to hold on and keep up with the growth, which is fun, and scary.”
Dion’s always been smart enough to adorn his crafts with a mix of stickers that pay the bills and passion projects.
Dion’s quick to disseminate credit when it comes to Epokhe’s rising, as he admits that he, Mitch, and Kai were fairly clueless on the business front when they started out. A man named Paul Bow (an experienced industry head who’s had his mitts in multiple pies in and around surf over the years) is the man Dion credits with guiding him and the gang in the right direction, but you’ve got to tip your hats to Dion, Mitch, and Kai and say they’ve done a hell of a job, from the frames to the films and everything else in between. When asked for a “holy shit we might be onto something here” moment, Dion notes signing Taj, who he describes as “our all-time hero growing up,” which seems to unwittingly land on the crux of the brand’s success. Epokhe wasn’t created in a boardroom as a means to exploit a target market, it was thunk up by mates, likely over a bottle of red, for the primary purpose of making good shades and having fun with their friends (and heroes). It’s amazing how often that formula works.
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