Gentle Monster: Bold Glasses, Bolder Statements

Gentle Monster: Bold Glasses, Bolder Statements

Worn by some of the biggest celebrities and featured on the world’s exclusive fashion runways, the Seoul-based eyewear brand Gentle Monster has climbed up the ladder significantly to become one of the top leading brands in the sunglasses market. The brand continuously pushes the boundaries of unconventional beauty in the eyewear industry, a core factor in the brand’s DNA.

In this article, we’ll run down what the brand has achieved in just a little over a decade since it was first founded. 

Brand History

Gentle Monster is a South Korean sunglasses and optical glasses brand, founded by Hankook Kim in Seoul, South Korea in 2011. Kim had no prior fashion experience and was an English teacher before coming up with this brilliant idea of an eyewear brand. At one summer camp, he met who would be his future investor, entrepreneur Jae W Oh, who agreed to invest in whatever business Kim wanted to start. 


On his hunt for business ideas, Kim explored the eyewear industry and noticed a gap — eyewear had so far been engineered to accommodate the Western facial structure. He was also particularly intrigued by Warby Parker’s successful, direct-to-consumer business model. 

According to Kim, South Koreans have a desire for small faces. This led him to the brilliant idea of constructing oversized glasses with low bridge noses as a solution to the gap in the industry. At the time (and maybe even to this day), no one else had done this, so there were no competitors in this niche. Big glasses make small faces — that was the answer to address the specific and nuanced needs of his starting consumer market.

With the Asian market focusing on oversized models, the brand spreads its creative and experimental wings a little bit with unconventional forms in the Europe and U.S. market. This is reflected in its paradoxical brand name ‘Gentle Monster’ — referring to the humble and wearable designs that fall under the ‘Gentle’ part of the name, and the more unique and playful aspect of the brand falls under the ‘Monster’ part. In other words, Gentle Monster offers everything from day-to-day wear to statement, signature models.


Today, the brand has commercial success in not only Asia but worldwide, with over 40 stores and business relations with hundreds of optical shops including Harvey Nichols and Nordstrom. On top of its HQ in Seoul, the brand has head offices in Taiwan, and Singapore. Hong Kong, China, the US, the UK and UAE. 


No great creations were made sloppily, and that’s the same with Gentle Monster. On top of its out-of-the-box eyewear designs, the brand invests a tremendous amount into producing the best quality eyewear. While most of Gentle Monster’s products are made from steel and cellulose acetate, the brand experiments with other materials in their designs, including chrome, titanium and various other premium metals. Regardless of the frame, its lenses are all made by Zeiss.

Gentle Monster initially acquired a factory in Daegu, Korea that used to produce for Luxottica Group, an Italian manufacturer that designs and produces frames for various designer fashion houses including Ray-Ban and Persol. The brand has shifted its production to China as the production of acetate is illegal in South Korea.


Cut and design

True to its original brand concept, Gentle Monster has a strong focus on cutting and designing to fit various face shapes. The brand started out with a mission to create eyewear designed to tailor to the needs of the Asian market, being the first to introduce the ‘Asian fit’ to the market. The bigger frames answer the desire for smaller faces (which is considered a compliment to South Koreans, according to Kim); the low bridge noses on the frames are solutions to sunglasses constantly sliding down low nose-bridges; construction of the frames ensures that the bottom of the lenses doesn’t rest on high cheekbones. 

Experimental retail offline and online

One of the brand’s main focuses is the retail space. Gentle Monster has come up with some of the most creative and stimulating shop interiors, demonstrating that physical outlets also play a part in any brand’s image. With the rising consumer expectations and demands, interior design has to constantly be reworked and adapted. 


Out of all their stores and stockists, there are about 19 global flagship stores worldwide with stores in London, Singapore, Dubai, New York, L.A., China and the OG shop in Seoul. It’s not the typical glasses on racks that line the walls — it’s very much like walking into an art exhibition with every Gentle Monster outlet. Every shop has its own unique layout and concept, crafting an original customer experience each time. Products are exhibited like museum pieces in an immersive and experiential offline shopping experience. 


Similar to an art gallery, the decoration and exhibitions of Gentle Monster’s shops change regularly with each new collection of sunglasses. According to Kim, he wanted “to create an exhibition-like effect where, just as the products change, so do the environments in which they are presented”. In 2014, the brand launched the Quantum Project, which includes a series of 36 spatial installations that are redesigned every 25 days over the span of 29 months, showcasing various collaborations with artists and brands.

 GENTLE MONSTER new york underwater

One of the most iconic Gentle Monster store concepts is for the New York City flagship store. From May through August of 2016, the brand collaborated with aquarium designer Justin Muir and glass sculptor Ivan Lee Mora to turn the store into an underwater experience that was inspired by the French film Le Grand Bleu.

Even the brand’s e-tail platform showcases the store as an art gallery approach to online shopping.

Customisation and servicing

Gentle Monster’s glasses come in a variety of sizes, from big to small, to suit all types and sizes of face shapes. These sunglasses are also designed to be genderless and unisex. 

On top of all of that, the brand offers in-store customisation and servicing of all of its products so that every pair bought fits the customer perfectly. As Gentle Monster’s sunglasses are made of cellulose acetate and engineered uniquely, the frames are resistant to snapping under heating and bending, therefore making them easily adjustable to one’s facial structure. 

Customers can bring their pair of Gentle Monster sunglasses to any of the brand’s stores and get them custom-fitted to their faces. This free service only takes a few minutes — plus complimentary polishing.

If popping into a store is not possible, customers can also request for servicing online from anywhere in the world, and get it shipped back to them. 

Top Gentle Monster Designs 

Over the decades, Gentle Monster has designed impressive and trendy sunglasses. In the first couple of years since the launch of the brand, Gentle Monster was only dropping singular products. The first full collection was released in 2013, with DIDI-O being the bestseller of them all. This design consists of a rounded square shape frame made of acetate. 


This inspired the shapes of Gentle Monster’s signature line FLATBA, where the frames are made using a unique technique of the lenses being mounted on top of the frame instead of fitting inside the frame traditionally.

New Flatba 2020

In 2020, the brand launched its first collection of the year called New Flatba, a reimagined of its signature Flatba series. The collection included updated versions of the shapes for its original series, as well as introducing new details. As one would expect from the brand, the collection featured oversized acetate frames and was originally in only black in colour. 


One of the bestselling designs in this collection is Her 01, which is also arguably one of the brand’s most popular designs ever. It has made appearances in Korean dramas and movies, and worn by countless celebrities. The design of Her 01 also mimics the pair of sunnies worn by Audrey Hepburn. This pair is deemed as the perfect oversized pair of sunglasses — classic in black and a fashion staple — made out of 100% UV-protected nylon Zeiss lenses and acetate frames. 


An alternate colour to the same design is Her T1, which is another popular pair of the brand. On top of the Zeiss lenses and acetate frames, this design features three rose gold bullet-shaped pins on the sides of the sunglasses.


Another popular design in this collection is Solo 01. This design features a sleek and simple frame that is accentuated with two circular silver pins. Actress Kim Da Mi was seen wearing this design.



Gentle Collection

Gentle Monster released its first optical campaign in 2019 called ‘Gentle’, which questions the concept of gender identity in contemporary culture. As part of this concept, the brand left out the latter part of the brand’s name so that the campaign and collection are just called ‘Gentle’. The aim was to have the guests who were part of the campaign fill the void.


All of the designs in the collection have 99.9% UV protection and blue light filtering clear lenses. Frames in the brand’s optical collection are a combination of classic to contemporary. Dadio 01 features a Wellington-inspired design made of a black acetate frame with circle studs on each side of the front and bold library temples.


A more popping design in the collection is the S.O.A G1 made of acetate and titanium, featuring a rectangular grey frame with a multi-layered rim and grooved endpieces. 

Gentle Monster Kids 

The brand released its first kids' sunglasses collection in 2019, inspired by self-made youth creators and in support of kids expressing their unique individuality. The collection featured shrunken versions of six of Gentle Monster’s top designs: Chapssal, Newturtle, Peggy, Ribbon, Jackbye and Eastmoon. The face of this collection was Miss Coco Pink Princess, everyone’s favourite Instagram kid.


BOLD Collection

The brand’s latest collection is the BOLD Collection, with the mission to introduce the most daring eyewear designs and silhouettes in various launches under the BOLD line, from 2023 onwards.


The first iteration is called ‘Galaxy of 9 Evenings’. Gentle Monster takes inspiration from the 1966 performance series 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering. In the range, star motifs are incorporated, with frames in interesting colours like a sparkling blue and purple hologram and vibrant light green. 


The Bandoneon.S frame features an oval silhouette in multiple colourways, and Silver Clouds have more of a rectangular, sharp frame with a curved under-eye design.


Other bestsellers

Outside of the bestselling collections, there are also other top designs. This includes the Chameleon 02, which is a modern reincarnation of a classic cat-eye frame styled with an ascending front face finished with accent lines on each end. This design is made with bold endpiece details and beta-titanium temples. Korean actress Kim Go Eun, who starred in The King: Eternal Monarch, has been seen in this pair of sunglasses.



Another bestseller is the Dans M01. This design is also a cat eye frame, from the 2020 Eyewear collection with UV-protected lenses. The design features circular lenses of the sunglasses pointed outward that create an angled shape at the corners. Dans M01 has been seen on multiple celebrities including Crash Landing on You star Seo Ji Hye.



Part of the 2020 collection, Bling 02 comes in various colour ways and would be considered a true definition of a Gentle Monster pair of sunglasses. The frames are huge, inspired by the wings of a butterfly. Actress Kim Da Mi, who starred in Itaewon Class, was seen wearing the brown version of this design.



Iconic Collaborations

One of the biggest factors in the growth of Gentle Monster (on top of luxury conglomerate LVMH investing $60 million into the company back in 2017) is its dozens, if not hundreds, of collaborations with celebrities, brands and companies. Some big-name ones include Alexander Wang, Maison Margiela, Marine Serre, Jennie of BLACKPINK, Moncler, Ambush, World of Warcraft and Coperni. 


GENTLE MONSTER x Alexander Wang

Gentle Monster’s first collaboration with Alexander Wang was for the latter’s Fall 2018 collection that was presented at New York Fashion Week. The two brands collaborated to create the CEO sunglasses, which express power and confidence through a bold acetate frame. Raised lettering found on the temples of the design completes the sleek yet powerful look.


The second collaboration was in 2019 for the FW New York Fashion Week Show, creating the M.PRI$$. Based on the sunglasses brand’s iconic model that features a smooth curved semi-cat eye front and bold temples, the collaboration design features a fluid metal snake detailing around the lens front. 

GENTLE MONSTER x Alexander Wang

Celebrities including Hailey Bieber and Kaia Gerber have been seen in M.PRI$$.

Hailey Bieber in Gentle Monster

Kaia Gerber in Gentle Monster

GENTLE MONSTER x Maison Margiela

Another big collaboration for Gentle Monster is with Paris fashion house Maison Margiela, the first collaboration in 2023. The collaboration consists of a new sunglasses and prescription eyewear line, combining Gentle Monster’s fashionable avant-garde philosophy with Maison Margiela's heritage. 

GENTLE MONSTER x Maison Margiela

This genderless collection offers a selection of eyewear showcasing experimental craftsmanship, inspired by classic silhouettes and unconscious glamour. There are multiple colourways for each design, including the classic black, white, grey and acid green. 

 GENTLE MONSTER x Maison Margiela


The collaboration with French label Marine Serre is an iconic one for the brand, creating a range of sunglasses reminiscing the Y2K era — an era that has been making a comeback for the past couple of years. Combining Marine Serre’s futuristic aesthetic and logo with Gentle Monster’s signature dramatic designs, there are two silhouettes in this line: Visionizer I and Visionzier II.

GM Visionizer I

Showcasing a slimmer silhouette, the Visionizer I has a lightweight look and feel, inspired by extreme sports sunglasses. The French label’s logo is cut out at the bridge and Gentle Monster’s name is engraved at the temple.

GM Visionizer I

Visionizer II offers a curved frame with nylon lenses, mirrored or tinted. It is more sleek and retro, giving off summer sporty vibes. Every design in this range provides 100% UV protection.

GM Visionizer II

GM Visionizer II

Celebrities Wearing Gentle Monster

A lot of us know of this brand through famous celebrities who have been seen wearing a frame or two by Gentle Monster. It’s no secret that many big names are fans of the brand. Here are some other celebrities are seen wearing Gentle Monster:  

Gigi Hadid


Billie Eilish

 Billie Eilish in GENTLE MONSTER

Emily Ratajkowski 

 Emily Ratajkowski in GENTLE MONSTER

Sarah Lahbati

 Sarah Lahbati in GENTLE MONSTER

Michelle Dy

 Michelle Dy in GENTLE MONSTER

Chanel Iman

 Chanel Iman in GENTLE MONSTER

Lil Nas X 


Son Ye Jin


Heart Evangelista

Heart Evangelista in GENTLE MONSTER 

Chie Filomeno


Kim Go Eun


Jessy Mendiola

 Jessy Mendiola in GENTLE MONSTER

Anne Curtis

 Anne Curtis in GENTLE MONSTER

Jung Eun Chae

 Jung Eun Chae in GENTLE MONSTER

Jennie (BlackPink)


Rei Germar


Park Min Young

 Park Min Young in GENTLE MONSTER 

Renee de Guzman



The success and fame of Gentle Monster are without a doubt evident, and since its launch, the brand has done nothing but move upwards. With endless collaborations and support from domestic and international celebrities, it won’t be long before the whole world knows its name, whether or not they’re a fan of luxury sunglasses. Gentle Monster’s brand philosophy allows itself to aim as high as the clouds and beyond — fans of the brand are always kept on their toes when it comes to expecting a new launch of collections. 

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