There is something about California that draws the fashionable, the progressive thinking, the adventurers and the independents. It also has the busiest, most populated and diverse cities in the country. But despite such diversity from the coast to inland, busy city to laid-back town, Cali has that “I just woke up this way so deal with it” kind of cool. There’s something alluring about that kind of independence. Maybe it’s the freedom to just do whatever you want. Maybe it’s the thrill of being a rebel. Maybe it’s the potential for real thought that results in real conversations. The Realness. California, and Garrett Leight California Optical (GLCO), both have that.
Perhaps one of the best examples of Cali’s independent thinking and free-spirited vibe is the independent eyewear brand Garrett Leight California Optical.
Garrett Leight California Optical – History
The company was founded in 2011 as Garrett Leight California Optical (GLCO) by none other than it’s namesake, Garrett Leight. Brought up as the child of an optician and designer, it was only natural that Garrett would catch the eyewear bug and ventured out into the biz for himself. GLCO has some serious optical heritage. Garrett’s father, Larry Leight, was the founder and designer for another iconic eyewear brand in the 80s: Oliver Peoples before it was acquired by Luxottica.
If you could imagine eating street tacos, in an art gallery, with the artist, that is basically GLCO. Unassuming and casual, yet absolutely full of substance.
GLCO has captured the essence of California vintage vibe circa 1960. The collection is also able to capture the vibe of California present day. It’s not easy to be in two places at the same time, but GLCO does it naturally. They bring their designs to life using polarized glass lenses, CR-39 and cotton based acetate sourced from Italy, Japan, and China. Although GLCO is inspired by vintage, GLCO takes on a more free spirited approach that is distinctly it’s own with brighter colors, mirrored lenses, and a little more of that Cali attitude.
GLCO puts out a biannual old school paper periodical, aptly called The Spectacle, that highlights everything about the California experience. Topics range from the local scoop on legendary In N’ Out burgers to Old Hollywood Architecture, to the importance of water conservation. Starting the company on Abbot Kinney road in Venice was no coincidence either. Venice and California are like peanut butter and jelly. GLCO is permeated by California art, history and style and it shows. Every style is named after a street in Venice – and stamped with VC/CA 90291.
I admire the honesty of GLCO. Their frames are designed here in Cali, and manufactured in China. There has always been a taboo factor with the idea of high end products being manufactured in China. The belief that the entire country of China is incapable of producing any quality products seems a little silly in 2017. Google something on your iphone that was made in China if you just rolled your eyes. GLCO keeps it real by giving us a product that is beautifully designed, beautifully made, and tells us the truth. They know their product is solid, so they have no need to hide where it is made.
Sadly, the truth is something hard to come by these days. We admire Garrett Leight California Optical for putting out an amazing collection and applaud them for being so open and honest about their manufacturing process.