The good people of Garrett Leight recently produced a campaign video that focuses on The Harding, one of the California opticians most popular styles. The frame design and the accompanying video was inspired by the stylish playwright Arthur Miller, a man who possessed stellar taste in both eye-wear and women. As a company, Garrett Leight has been doing good things of late. It seems to be a bit of an anomaly in the eye-wear world as one of the few little guys around. The frames themselves have always been intriguing to me, especially the U.S. made collaboration glasses it did with my good friend Mark McNairy.
A while back I happened to be in LA the same week the company’s shop on La Brea opened and I really like how the brand is expressed at retail. It all feels very unique and I have to say that to me it feels like almost everything Garrett Leight touches is impressively done. I had a chance to catch up with Garrett himself and talk to him about Arthur Miller, their shared appreciation of handsome glasses and this new series of short campaign videos. The full conversation is after the jump.
ACL: What was the inspiration behind these spots?
Garrett Leight: Funny enough, I am actually answering this last because it took me a while to think about it. But the true answer is Steve Jobs. That book and further research after reading that book changed me. Yes I’m a designer, but more than that I want to change the world. And even if its just through creating an eyewear brand for now, its important that people know how passionate I am about our designs, our quality, and our business in general. Our whole team is very inspired, so this is just the beginning in terms of showing what kind of people inspire us, specifically in regards to frame design in this case. Furthermore, I was a journalism major, so I love using my words, and I just feel like a video in some ways is more powerful than the photography in our look books, especially with today’s average attention span.
Why make an online campaign commercial?
I had just been thinking a lot about the way brands can reach their customers in today’s day and age. I had just finished reading Steve Jobs book and I was very inspired by his original Macintosh commercial in 1984 that he did with Ridley Scott. And I thought to myself, why can’t we do something like this? Just because we can’t afford to air it during the Super Bowl, doesn’t mean we can’t create something that has a powerful message about what we do and how we do it, but format it like a short commercial and air it online and get people excited about us.
Does the character —in this case Arthur Miller— play a role in the decision to recreate these frames? Or was the inspiration just based on wanting a cool design?
Initially I had come across the image while scouring the internet for design inspiration like I always do. Whether its a modern day icon or someone from the past, certain images stand out more than others. In my opinion it’s not always about the frame, some people just have soul. I think any photographer could tell you that, you shoot some people and the camera just loves them. It was only later that I started to look into who Arthur Miller was as an individual and what he stood for. His story is extremely interesting, he’s way more than just Marilyn Monroe’s husband. In fact I think many important people of that era would say she was kind of just a side note to his legacy. So the character in this case plays a role in the desire to market the inspiration of the people our brand is attracted to, the frames themselves have a way of finding that kind of individual. And lets be real, Arthur Miller had sick style.
Are The Harding frames part of a series or collection?
You know honestly, this frame was just released in our second collection back in Fall 2011, and at the time it wasn’t part of a series or special collection, just a great frame that I wanted to make and really just wear myself and I thought people would love it. Over the past two years its become one of our best sellers and probably our most important frame because it stands out for our brand amongst a sea of classic American eyewear brands. The only series is that we are continuously looking for soulful individuals to inspire us and hope to continue to tell that story through pieces like this.
Where are they made?
All of our frames are hand finished in China. Its always been my intention to offer the absolute most value, especially in changing times where people don’t frivolously spend their money on things that don’t last forever. We sourced all the best material from around the world, Japanese acetate, German hinges, Italian glass lenses, and found the best factory anywhere that assembled the product with our high standards of quality at the best price, which happened to be based in Hong Kong.