On Our Radar
Eyewear designer Garrett Leight on creativity, trusting your instincts and the late singer who inspired his fall collection.
Words by Laura Griffiths
Garrett Leight knows a thing or two about sunglasses. In fact, as a member of an eyewear dynasty (his father Larry Leight is the founder of cult brand Oliver Peoples), you could even say it’s in his DNA.
So it probably seemed like the most natural thing in the world when the LA-based designer decided to branch out on his own. His eponymous line, Garrett Leight California Optical, launched in 2011 with just 4 styles, but fast forward 6 years and Leight has 4 stores, several designer collaborations and hundreds of new designs under his belt – and his signature pieces have become as recognisable as the famous names that wear them. The perfect blend of contemporary and classic, Garrett Leight makes sunglasses that ‘just feel right on your face.’
On Starting Out
‘At first I didn’t want to follow in my father’s footsteps, but I decided to work at Oliver Peoples and it just became clear that I really loved working in eyewear. I wanted to create a brand that offered something different than what existed at the time but still felt very classic. That was the beginning of Garrett Leight California Optical.’
On Design Inspiration
‘I opened our first store in Venice. California in general is a big part of our brand DNA, but we also like to look back at different eras, images from the nineties, seventies, fifties… Basically anything that feels exciting. Our moodboard features vintage frames, photos that inspire the mood of the collection and past icons. For fall, it was a lot of Prince.’
‘At first I didn’t want to follow in my father’s footsteps, but I decided to work at Oliver Peoples and it just became clear that I really loved working in eyewear’
On His Achievements
‘I started this because I wanted to create something that people were drawn to. When I see someone wearing GLCO frames, just cool people wearing my frames in the street, I love it.’
On the Customer
‘We always try to design for a woman who is confident and has her own individual style. Being in LA we feel really honoured to have a lot of recognisable fans that set trends globally, and hope they continue to support us with the new styles we come out with each season.’
‘We’ve seen such a success from working with these amazingly talented brands and designers. The experience of working with outside sources pushes us to be better. We have a few we’re working on now and cannot wait to share with everyone…’
‘We always try to design for a woman who is confident and has her own individual style’
What’s your brand ethos in 3 words?
‘California, classic, cool.’
Who would you most love to see wearing GLCO?
‘Right now, I’m so into Sade: she is amazingly beautiful and so talented.’
Your favourite GLCO style?
‘The Toledo from SS17: a feminine, modern take on the aviator.’
Your best styling advice?
‘Forget about what’s popular – and [don’t] overthink it.’
Biggest life lesson?
‘Trust your instincts… At the end of the day, I need to do what I feel is best.’
How many pairs of sunglasses do you own?
‘I have no idea, my archive is enormous. As it should be!’