The Canadian-Chinese entrepreneur and girl boss takes us behind the scenes of her rising independent eyewear label.
Good style—and good foresight—comes naturally to Doris Ngie. The Canadian-Chinese entrepreneur hails from a family of apparel distributers and co-founded luxury fashion e-platform BKRM (alongside her sister, Pinky Ngie) back in 2012, just when online shopping was beginning to pick up steam in Hong Kong.
Yet it was a fateful trip to Milan a few years later that steered the fashion maven down the path of accessory designing—which led to the birth of AMAVII, Ngie’s independent, contemporary designer eyewear label and the first of its kind to specialise in aerospace titanium frames, a 100% recyclable eco-metal. Sustainability is at the top of mind—AMAVII also plants a tree for every pair of sunglasses sold—but equally important are aesthetics and fit. All designs come in three thoughtful fits that flatter various face shapes and sizes, and its ethos has resonated: the label has been featured across the likes of Forbes and People, and you can count Gigi Hadid, Hailey Bieber, and Jennifer Lopez among those regularly spotted donning AMAVII frames.
On the heels of AMAVII’s milestone three year anniversary, and its recent debut into Lane Crawford’s Hong Kong and China’s locations, we speak to Ngie about her continuous drive to innovate and create.
Why did you decide to create AMAVII and what made you so passionate about great eyewear?
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, looking for sunglasses. I went from store to store but couldn’t find anything that fit me. I thought, why weren't there size options for eyewear like there are with clothing?
I then started asking friends if they had the same problem and found not only did many experience this too, I had a friend who was a successful, sophisticated bachelor tell me he shopped in children’s eyewear because his head was small and narrow, and those were the only ones that fit. I knew then I had a pain point I could solve and provide added value to customers by creating the most comfortable, stylish sunglasses and opticals ever in three size fits.
I spent over two years on research and development with a luxury eyewear production house, working through 32 prototypes to create the best three size fits that would fit any face shape, and refused to settle for anything less than aerospace titanium and 18-karat gold used in jewellery when making our frames. Each pair requires 100 steps of hand-craftsmanship and three months to make.
After over a decade in the industry (I stepped into the industry as managing director of my family business, apparel distributors GL Group, and as co-founder of luxury fashion platform BKRM) and seeing the need for personalised frames to suit every face shape, I launched AMAVII, creators of problem-solving luxury sunglasses in 2018.
You’re the first independent eyewear brand to use aerospace titanium. What exactly is this material and why is it a perfect fit for AMAVII?
We scoured the market for the most innovative and sustainable materials that can be used for eyewear, which is aerospace-grade titanium, the same metal used to build spaceships as its the strongest and lightest metal. We feel it's important to create the very best, most comfortable sunglasses and opticals for our customers. Socially conscious about environmental impact, AMAVII products proudly showcase sustainable titanium from Japan, a 100% recyclable eco-metal that does not deteriorate or rust.
What are some eyewear trends that you think will be emerging in Asia and the world? What do you think customers are looking for?
I think that the lockdowns from the pandemic have given people a lot more time to reflect on their consumption behaviours and their impact on the environment. They’re looking for quality products that last, collector and timeless pieces, not fast fashion that creates unnecessary environmental waste. Popular picks vary from classic shapes to more fashion-forward silhouettes like the quirky, geometric Jane Frances style from our Runway collection that looks stylish season after season. I believe that avid eyewear consumers are looking for versatile shades that are comfortable for long periods of wear.
What are your top five essentials you can’t live without and why?
What is currently at the top of your travel bucket list?
I really miss Thailand. It’s nearby so it’s convenient to fly there and my family and I have so many fond memories of travelling together in various cities – Phuket, Koh Samui, Bangkok are some of our favourites. In fact, I got engaged in Phuket and was planning a destination wedding there before Covid hit. I would love to go back once things settle down and it’s safe to fly again.
Can you describe your perfect day and how do you reenergise?
Spending a day with my family, wining and dining together on our favourite food with uplifting conversations and laughter.
What can we look forward to from AMAVII next?
Our goal is to become 100% carbon neutral; we’re partnering with Trees For The Future to plant trees to offset our carbon footprint and have planted over 20,000 trees. We are also expanding into new markets in Asia Pacific, China and Europe, and are looking to explore more innovative sustainable materials. For example, our Italian acetate is made from plant-based bio-cellulose acetate, which is 100% biodegradable. We also recently expanded into AMAVII Home with a new wellness candle last Winter, scented with plant-based essential oils and natural soy wax, with more products in this category to follow!