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- Photos by Elizabeth Daniels
- Designer and Founder, Garrett Leight, outside his DTLA offices.
- Frame adjusting area.
- Team GLCO working it out.
- Frames from the fall collection.
- Leight’s bi-annual magazine, The Spectacle.
- Garrett Leight California Optical relocated to DTLA a little over a year ago.
- So many decisions...
- The GLCO design offices.
- Leight trying out different lenses.
- Inside the inventory walls.
- Bright break area.
- Probably the raddest wall choices we’ve ever seen.
- Leight brought his westside vibe Downtown.
Garrett Leight is the epitome of a true Angeleno. Born and raised in Venice, he grew up in the eyewear industry (his dad founded Oliver Peoples nearly 30 years ago, no big deal). While he didn't always see himself following in those footsteps, in 2009 he launched the uber-successful Garrett Leight California Optical and hasn't looked back since. Influenced greatly by his SoCal upbringing, Leight is constantly running across new ideas for his spring and fall collections: "One hundred percent of my collection I'm inspired by and love, but only 20 percent is this colorful storyboard," he tells us. "Eighty percent is the core of the collection."
The busy Leight, whose wife had their first baby only two months ago, keeps a running archive of vintage frames that inspire him and credits the in-demand and unisex, Kinney as the GLCO staple. "We're not trend-driven," he explains. "I don't think we ever say 'right now' when we're talking about a design." While there are so many frames he eventually wants to make, they are always editing down and adding to come up with a collection featuring about eight new styles in four colors in addition to the carry-overs. Where does he unwind after a long day? Well his Venice Beach man cave, of course.
How has growing up here influenced your company?
Los Angeles, Venice specifically, is a huge part of who I am. I feel like it's a classic, timeless style and I draw a lot of my inspiration from there. I am attracted to things that fly a little bit under the radar, colors that are not too flashy and not name brands.
Did you think you were going to get into the eyewear business or did you rebel?
Definitely rebelled. About seven years ago I went to work at my dad's company and I fell in love with the business side. It was a twenty-year-old company and I liked how everyone there felt like family. Slowly, I decided I wanted to build that kind of environment for myself. I realized I had a skill side for marketing, branding and building a team. Eyewear was just a medium at that point and over time, I've grown to really fall in love with the product.
Why did you decide to open your offices in DTLA?
Space. Growing up, I was always such a westsider that I've never really understood this area. I'm actually really stoked that we did it because I'm way more in touch with what is going on downtown now with the restaurants, the history, the art. I don't even mind the commute, I actually like being in the car and listening to the radio.
What's your favorite GLCO sunglass style?
That's so hard, I think I'm most proud of Wilson which is a Windsor rimmed frame we made.
How many pairs of glasses to you have at your house?
Oh my God, so many but the funny thing is that I don't rotate them, I wear like three. Between my wife and I there are hundreds. My wife actually plans her outfit more around her glasses.
What should people look for when they're trying to pick out the right optical frame?
Comfort is key with anything. Don't let anybody talk you into anything you don't feel comfortable in, establish that. Second, consider what you do for a living and if you really are in a position to take risks. Then, have someone who is experienced help you with sizing and fit.
What's going on for fall?
We wanted to do new colors and sizes in existing styles, so we focused on lenses and plastic colors and reintroduced some of our best-selling styles in new, fresh takes. We did a lot of crystals and we also focused on women's a lot, we did a collaboration with a French shoe designer named Amélie Pichard.
What is the Garrett Leight off-duty look?
I'm very casually dressed; I don't like to wear too many patterns or logos. To be honest, on a weekend, I'm in sweatpants or basketball shorts and a tank top lounging around with no shoes on.
Tell us about The Spectacle.
I was a journalism major, I felt when we launched the brand that catalogues didn't feel real. Somewhere along the line we decided to create our content through a magazine. We have a real story with great photos, it felt like a more interesting approach to creating the content.
· Garrett Leight [Official Site]
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