ABU DHABI // Minutes after sharing a photo of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid on Instagram, Ahmed Al Aqeeli was inundated with public interest in the Vice President’s vintage shades.
“Are they for sale?” a follower asked about the pair of Guy Laroche glasses. “No, no, send it to me,” another demanded.
“Already sold out,” Mr Al Aqeeli replied. He and Adel Galadari have been collecting classic designer sunglasses for more than a decade.
Last year, the Dubai bankers decided to turn their hobby into a business by launching The Collector’s Corner, selling classic sunglasses at events.
They say Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father, piqued their interest in designer shades at a young age.
“I was watching some of Sheikh Zayed’s videos and seeing him wearing the Carrera Champion,” Mr Al Aqeeli said, referring to the aviator sunglasses often associated with the country’s Founding Father.
“I was like, what is this that he is wearing? I don’t see them a lot. From that I started digging and I became interested in learning about the different brands.”
Mr Galadari, 28, said their clients were mixed but most were young people interested in timeless style.
“Everybody tries to emulate their idols,” he said. “Because we think Sheikh Zayed – he’s like our idol, you know? For me, he’s the top stylist ever in history. The way he wears the ghutra, the way he wears the agal, the national dress, the sunglasses.
“For us, he’s like our role model. You try to be him. You’ll never be him, but you try to be somewhere close to what he used to be.”
Much of their business comes from word of mouth and their Instagram account on @the.collectors.corner.
The shop was most recently at the Mother of the Nation Festival in Abu Dhabi, where the eye-catching displays and archive images of Royalty wearing the models for sale attracted shoppers.
The classic models popularised by the country’s leaders are also of a much higher quality and durability, Mr Galadari said.
“You can just touch them and feel that they are actually 10 times better quality,” he said. “Why? Because most of the sunglasses now are done by designers who are in China.
“All the designers, they just send the designs to China and they manufacture them there. Before they used to be made in Germany, West Germany, Paris, Austria.”
Most of their stock comes from sunglasses suppliers in Italy, India, Saudi Arabia – “everywhere”, Mr Al Aqeeli said. But he will not buy from eBay, which he does not trust.
“A lot of people know me, a lot of suppliers know me. When they find something old, they call me,” he said. “I built the connections from a hobby. So, now, alhamdulillah, I’ve got the connections.”
The Collector’s Corner also features flashy styles worn by celebrities from the eighties, such as Eddie Murphy and Stevie Wonder, but most people are interested in shades worn by the Sheikhs.
Mr Al Aqeeli said people remember seeing the Rulers wearing sunglasses but without knowing the brand. “So as soon as they know, they’ll take one.”
Recently, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, was seen wearing Momodesign shades at a conference in Dubai. The glasses were in demand in an instant, Mr Al Aqeeli said.
Sheikh Hamdan also used to wear Mykita, “so those two brands became popular because of him”, he said.
“We never carry those at all, to be honest. But let’s wait until it becomes a little bit out of fashion. We’ll bring it back.”
Source: uae news