“I was born into the optical industry — my dad co-founded Oliver Peoples — but I grew up hating eyewear. It was always there, and I didn’t want to talk about it.

By the time I went to college, in the late ‘90s, I cared more about my personal style: I’m a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy, but I wanted sunglasses to set myself apart.

I didn’t like the styles of the moment — shiny metals and weird lenses with strange gradients — so I’d come home and raid my dad’s garage for old OP frames. I don’t know if I was ahead of the curve, but when I graduated, the vintage look was in full revival.

I’ve collected more than a thousand antique frames over the years.
They don’t necessarily look like Garrett Leight pieces, but elements from each inspire my designs.”

“This is The Notorious B.I.G. frame; he wore these sunglasses everywhere. They’re ‘90s Versace. I wouldn’t say they’re the greatest quality, but they are an iconic style that I love.”

“The first time I looked at these, I just saw the color combination — our signature hinge is gold and silver, and it’s always interesting to see the ways those are mixed. But then I noticed the shape, and the cable temple.
I’m always going back to pieces and discovering new details.”

“Elvis wore these glasses — not this exact pair, but the style.

They’re very iconic, and hard frames to find because they weren’t mass-produced.
These are made of metal, and the way the material is treated is so interesting.”

“A lot of the frames I have aren’t necessarily rare or by famous brand names. There are a million different things we look for: it could be the material, the SHAPE, a FILIGREE, a FUNKY BRIDGE, or just THE LENGTH OF AN END PIECE.”

“These are a little too crazy for me to wear — they were probably used for welding — but the flat base lens is really cool. So we used that as inspiration for our Spring Collection, which incorporates flat lenses in new frames and classic styles.”

“When people come to us wanting to do a collaboration, I’ll show them a frame like this.

It might not be totally in line with our aesthetic, but we love the piece, and would want to find a brand — like a jeweler — that brings its own signature element into the design process.”

“I bought these from a French guy in Germany, I think during my Hunter S. Thompson phase.
They’re just so damn cool.”


Photography byBramble Trionfo

As told toAnthony Rotunno

Garrett Leight is the founder and creative director of Garrett Leight California Optical.
The current collection is available online and at select retailers.

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