Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Eyewear is an accessories category that is approached with varying interests. There are countless options—from large frames and small lenses to oversized metalwork and colored materials. There’s the personality test, aiming to match prescription frames or sunglasses to individual style. Then, it’s a matter of longevity. Which can stand the test of time?
The combination of these points is something DITA has been perfecting since its foundation in Orange County 27 years ago. Laser-focused on high-quality materials and craftsmanship—a fusing only a luxury company can achieve—the brand crafts each piece by hand in Japan in a small region known for its eyewear production. Through a design language that requires all hardware to be unique for each frame, it takes months to craft a single pair of DITA glasses.
With stores across the globe that stretch from Sydney, Australia to Tokyo, Japan, and back to the U.S. on both coasts, the brand most recently opened its Beverly Hills flagship on Rodeo Drive last week. Inside, quality materials like metal for shelving and marble for flooring fill the two-floor space, adorned by luxurious eyewear styles that movie stars, musicians, and star athletes covet.
"While we already have three flagship stores in California—Melrose, Newport Beach, San Francisco—Rodeo Drive has always been at the top of our list for store expansion as it is the number one luxury shopping destination in the world," said Cody Cho, DITA’s Vice President of Marketing, who has been with the brand for twelve years. "For us to be on the same street as Yves Saint Laurent, Celine, Louis Vuitton, Rolex, Cartier, and Gucci says a lot about the growth and the positioning of the brand."
Ahead of opening two more stores in London and Paris later this year, Whitewall spoke with Cho about his role at the brand, what his favorite sunglasses are, and what stores and styles we can expect from DITA this fall.
WHITEWALL: Before DITA, you owned your own agency focusing on web and software development, e-commerce, digital marketing, and branding. How did that lead to you joining DITA?
CODY CHO: While I loved working for several different brands, I really wanted to get behind an upcoming brand and focus solely on growth. When I met the new owner of DITA and he explained his long-term vision for the company, I knew instantly it was something I wanted to be a part of. To see the brand grow from earnest roots to where we are today in just over a decade has been an amazing journey.
WW: What is your role at the brand like today?
CC: I feel my role has evolved outside of just marketing. Aside from the day-to-day marketing initiatives, we have also invested heavily in content creation and brand awareness by elevating the way we showcase our products in a digitally evolving social media world. Building out new stores has been a unique experience with Beverly Hills and London under my belt and I feel that focusing on branching out with DITA into an omnichannel experience is next on our forefront. Telling the brand story from an online to offline perspective can be challenging but we seem to have the infrastructure to really push this now with all of our global flagship stores.
WW: DITA has an elevated approach to the market. How would you describe the brand's ethos?
CC: In everything that we do, we believe in individuality and challenging the status quo. DITA focuses on design and style playing off a much more luxury fashion angle that celebrates individuals that together stand apart. I feel this mentality not only encapsulates our customers but also the family of DITA employees that help make our company great.
WW: How does DITA’s new Rodeo Drive store expand upon the brand's DNA?
CC: The Rodeo Drive store is the purest distillation of the brand. The architecture holds true to the DNA of all of our flagship experiences which we refer to as warm minimalism. The walls are adorned with titanium mirror panels paired with imported marble floors. The product assortment will consist of the entire DITA collection as well as spotlight our ultra-premium line DITA-Epiluxury which ranges from $1,800-$6,000.
The second-floor mezzanine is still in development, but will feature a DITA museum that will be housed with artifacts and frames dating back to when the brand was founded in 1996 giving visitors a complete timeline and walkthrough of the DITA brand.
WW: What design details are special to DITA that you wouldn't find at another eyewear brand?
CC: Our precise attention to each and every detail is what DITA is known for in the industry. We were the first company to use double nylor on our Mach-One to hold a lens in place. Our use of floating bridge pieces may not be noticed by the naked eye but when you take the time to really look at a DITA frame, you begin to see all the tiny details that make us stand out from the rest. DITA is defined by our details, not by just putting a logo on a temple.
WW: Does having headquarters in Orange County impact your approach to the brand and your approach to designing eyewear? Or do you feel having several offices elsewhere allow you to cater to various demographics?
CC: I don't necessarily think being in Orange County impacts our approach to design outside of having great weather and having the opportunity to wear sunglasses 365 days out of the year. As a global brand, we have offices in the US, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Middle East, and Canada, therefore, we are always thinking about how our designs can resonate on a global level. Most brands tend to focus on what may be cool in Los Angeles but our success has always been around making timeless styles that transcend convention.
WW: What do you feel makes for good design—in eyewear, or otherwise?
CC: For DITA, we are blessed to have a talented team of in-house designers and engineers pushing the boundaries of eyewear design. When our factories tell us a design can’t be done from an initial concept, we know we are on the right path. Most brands just copy or emulate styles on the market, our approach has always been to elevate our designs with the use of custom and intricate details from the diamond patterns in our titanium to custom tooling and hardware. Good design for us always has to innovate and inspire but at the end of the day our goal is to create styles that will turn heads.
WW: DITA eyewear has been spotted in several movies, campaigns, and more. What has been an iconic moment for the brand?
CC: We have always been blessed to have had a strong presence among celebrities and musicians spanning film/television and music videos but without a doubt, the success we saw with our frame the Flight.006 being placed on Robert Downey Jr in Avengers: Infinity War and then being featured in Spiderman: Far from Home as part of the central plotline was something that has not been seen in the eyewear industry in over 20 years. The entire plot of the film is our Flight.006 known as E.D.I.T.H. in which Spiderman and Mysterio fight for ownership of these glasses that control all of Tony Stark’s technology.
WW: How did the pandemic impact your idea of the brand?
CC: While many stores tried to mitigate buying risk, the DITA brand remained strong throughout as many accounts only focused on tried and true selling brands. The DITA brand continued to see strong sales around our staples and best sellers however we also saw huge growth via our Direct-to-Consumer channels such as e-commerce and our own flagship stores.
WW: Do you have a favorite pair of DITA sunglasses?
CC: I have around 20 DITA frames in my personal collection, but find myself wearing the same three to four styles in my everyday rotation which are the Mach-Six, Midnight Special, Sekton, and Sequoia all with custom tints. Very similar to my watches, my eyewear tends to focus around my look for the day. After all, eyewear is the first thing people tend to notice when you meet someone and the aesthetic needs to elevate and amplify the ensemble.
WW: How are you getting away this summer, with your DITAs in tow?
CC: I just returned home after a week-long trip to Tokyo and Osaka looking at possible retail locations. I am hoping to book a week at the end of the month in Mykonos, which will be a balance of both work and pleasure. Anytime I travel, I carry along a special DITA travel case that holds 5 frames so I can accessorize accordingly.
WW: The brand is expanding after opening its Rodeo Drive store, next to London and Paris. What can we expect?
CC: We are still looking for some locations for future store build outs such as Shanghai, Dubai, Greece, Las Vegas, as well as expanding our retail footprint in Japan specifically in Ginza and Roppongi. We are quite selective about our locations and have waited up to 3 years in order to obtain the right store.
WW: What are you working on next, for the remainder of 2022?
CC: We are gearing up to release our upcoming Fall/Winter collection which has some exciting new styles that are sure to become strong staples in the DITA collection. We also are launching our first-ever exclusive limited edition series in October that is focused on completely new, never before seen designs. We are planning to release these limited editions every quarter online, in our flagship locations, and via select wholesale accounts. We are also gearing up for the launch of our new segment of DITA-Lancier which is advanced lens technology for land, sea, and air that combines DITA design DNA with some of the best lenses on the market. Made specifically for individuals who want to see clearly without sacrificing style or aesthetics.