Eyewear designer Garrett Leight’s eponymous label is already a household name along the West Coast and throughout upscale optical shops, known for its classic styles, contemporary details and quality craftsmanship that defies season-by-season trends. Whether or not Leight’s affinity for timeless design is a hereditary trait (his father founded designer eyewear brand Oliver Peoples), one certainly can’t argue the appeal of Leight’s understated and effortlessly cool aesthetic.
This fall, Garrett Leight California Optical will open the doors of its first Texas retail store to style-savvy Dallasites in the chic-yet-charming Knox Street neighborhood. Here, the Venice Beach native and eyeglasses designer talks about how GLCO landed in Dallas and why he selected Dallas’ Knox neighborhood as the site of his first boutique outside of California and New York City.
Of all the places to expand the retail side of your brand, why Dallas?
I traveled around the world to research where we’d go outside California and New York. Dallas spoke to me the most. It seemed the most similar city in terms of our local consumer, and it felt like it would be the safest place that the brand would translate … particularly in the Knox neighborhood. Whether it’s For Home Forty Five Ten or Grange Hall, some of the modern businesses there felt like a great juxtaposition of brands, price point and style that I didn’t see in Chicago or anywhere else. It was kind of easy in terms of choosing Dallas; it’s a great city for style, commerce, fashion and the arts. It’s such a major art community.
Your father founded Oliver Peoples many decades ago. What have you learned from growing up in the industry and watching your father build a successful retail business?
What I learned is that a style that has a timeless/retro quality and a well-made design is the best for longevity—for speaking to many types of styles, faces and fits and for having a brand and company that can stand the test of time ... What carried Oliver Peoples is the understated classic designs that look good on everybody—somebody who’s really conservative, someone who’s really cool. I think that sort of identity influenced me for the collection, but I’d say the biggest difference is the [GLCO] brand: I’m 30 years younger and come from a totally different generation; the [brands’] roots and styles don’t have the same DNA.
What will we see from the GLCO collection this season, and in the new Dallas store? A balance of on-trend and classic pieces?
You’ll definitely see balance, and we’ll continue to make classic styles. Typically we’ll see the trendy styles represented more by women. And we’ve expanded our women’s category and designs—think oversized metal or chunky acetate styles. Next season, we’re seeing more unique avant-garde: really thin cat eyes, rimless frames and then almost a late-‘90s look [with] gradient lenses. From a trend perspective, we’re seeing more light colors and metal. But we do new collaborations every season … we’re working on a custom Dallas frame for the opening in October (photo below).