The Complete Story of Rigards Eyewear
The Rigards brand began in the unlikeliest of ways. It started with an unexpected encounter between two men who shared a similar passion for design. Soon the men would become friends and, shortly thereafter, business partners.
Malaysian-born Ti Kwa and French-born Jean-Marc Virard might seem like an unlikely duo, but their chance encounter at a secret optical shop in the back alleys of Hong Kong suggest that there may be more than luck involved in the pairing. Some might even call it destiny.
Whether fate or sheer dumb luck, though, the end result is the same: a shared passion for eclectic, avant-garde eyewear evolved into the creation of an exciting independent eyewear enterprise. We’ll take a deeper look at the Rigards brand and explore what sets it apart.
Kwa and Virard understand what mass production in eyewear really means for the wearer. Both men have worn corrective lenses since they were children, and both have experienced the discomfort and lack of durability that mass manufacturing often leads to.
And this likely explains why the partners share such a deep commitment to hand craftsmanship for all Rigards shades and specs.Rigards eyewear is hand-tooled by master artisans based in Hong Kong.
These artisans painstakingly craft each element so that every pair is the culmination of the laborious and loving efforts of a single artisan, many of whom are carrying on traditions passed down through their families for generations.
Artistry Joins With Sustainability
In addition to the handcrafted approach that sets Rigards eyewear apart from high-end labels that rely on mass-production, the brand is also distinct for its earth-friendly ethos. This is particularly evident in the unique materials that characterize Rigards designs.
Though the brand frequently incorporates metals, particularly stainless steel, into its designs, the Rigards true calling card, perhaps, is the innovative use of horn and leather.
This approach is at once nostalgic and avant-garde. Horn is the original material for eyewear. Indigenous populations, particularly the Inuit, have used horn for a range of purposes, including early forms of eyewear.
Rigards has taken up that mantle in exciting ways. The most significant, perhaps, is that all Rigards’ materials, including horn, are responsibly sourced. No animals are harmed or killed in the process. Rigards uses buffalo horn and leather, which it sources after the animal has died of natural causes.
The result is an environmentally-friendly process in which nothing is wasted. The meat is harvested for food for and by the local population. The horn and leather, meanwhile, are shipped to Rigards’ ateliers, where the artisans hand-work them not only into frames but also into eco-friendly leather cases and pouches.
Unique Designs, Customized Fit
Rigards’ use of traditional materials in their designs doesn’t just benefit the environment, it also provides Rigards’ customers with a unique eyewear experience. Much like leather, horn is a porous material that reacts to environmental conditions. Even the heat, salt, and sweat of the wearer’s skin will, over time, reshape the horn frames.
And what that means is that Rigards’ shades and specs are very much like living entities. They react to the wearers’ climate and their activities. With every wearing, they become that much more conformed to the shape of the wearers’ face. The more you wear Rigards’ shades and specs, the better they feel.
There can perhaps be no greater satisfaction for two designers who grew up dealing with uncomfortable, mass-produced eyewear than that.
Tradition and Modernity
The use of horn and leather in many of Rigards’ designs speaks to a more traditional approach to eyewear. But Rigards’ aesthetic is anything but traditional. The founders reiterate that their vision for their brand is, above all, nonconformity.
This desire helped to inspire the brand name, which is a play on the French verb, “regarder,” meaning “to look” or “to see.” Virard and Kwa want their designs to turn heads, and spark conversation. They innovate and break “rules” to make it happen.
The designers often play with a variety of shapes and textures that would seem incompatible to hit on a style that is truly innovative and unique. Consider, for instance, the geometric design of RG1019CU, with its octagonal lenses, sculpted nose pads, and lightweight titanium frame. Aside from he distinctive shape, there’s a lack of ornamentation in the design. But it’s this lack of embellishment that makes a bold statement, giving the style a fresh, modern feel.
This is also what makes Rigards a brand of choice for consumers who crave self-expression. For Kwa and Virard, self-expression is the motivating principle behind its non-conformist ethos. The brand was created with the iconoclasts in mind, the men and women, boys and girls who didn’t want anonymous, mass-produced spectacles.
Or, more accurately, they were made for consumers who understood that eyewear, like all good fashion, could be both revealing and camouflaging. Rigards’ designs were made to give wearers what they had for too long lacked: a choice, the chance to decide how they wanted to present, or represent, themselves on any given day. Rigards eyewear was not only designed to be looked at, but it was also designed to allow wearers to determine exactly what, and who, people would see when they did look.
The nonconformity of the Rigards brand is the ultimate self-expression of Rigards’ non-conformist wearers.
Let twelvesixtynine Help You Find Your Rigards Style
If you’re ready to claim your own unique Rigards design, the expert team of stylists at twelvesixtynine is here to help. We can work with you to find the frames, tints, sizes, and styles that are just right for you. Visit your local twelvesixtynine store today or connect with us by phone or email. We look forward to helping you.
Read More: By Your Side - NYC Chronicles