Garrett Leight and Rimowa create sunglasses that combine heritage and cool

The mood board for Garrett Leight, founder of Garrett Leight Optical California, and his collaboration with German luggage brand Rimowa included psychedelic '70s art, palm trees, a dog riding a skateboard, the Venice Beach sign.

"Just hyper California Venice culture stuff," says Leight.

The thing is, as Leight, born and bred in Venice notes, while a lot of people want in on the Venice Beach lifestyle, including corporate and Silicon Valley types, it's very hard to fake.

"I'm born and raised in Venice so this is my community. This is where I went to school. This is where I learned how to skate. This is where I learned how to listen to music ...it's an ever changing and evolving community and culture, but it's always rooted in artistic expression, through food, music, our fashion, style. You know, it's hard not to be inspired if you have a great connection to the real people that live here," he says.

That Rimowa, a heritage luxury brand with cool products, wanted a slice of Venice makes sense. They partnered with the perfect brand to make it happen. 

"It was pretty serendipitous," says Leight of the decision to collaborate together on a collection that includes sunglasses, luggage and beach accessories. 

"We both wanted to work with each other. And then we just kind of took it from there. I'm a fan of Rimowa, I already use their products. I [also] felt like it would be a good time for us to experience collaborating with a bigger brand or you know, like a corporate entity, and [one] that has a fantastic fashion following."

For Leight the appeal of Rimowa is the singularity of its products. The brand is known for its sleek ribbed aluminium hard luggage cases.

"First and foremost, I [love] just the classic clean aesthetic and design. I love anything where it's extremely timeless and recognisable and you know, can't be imitated easily. I represent that in many of the things in my collection as well as items of clothing that I personally wear, whether it be, you know, Vans shoes, or Levi's jeans or an [LA] Dodgers hat," he says.

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Leight's brand celebrates its tenth anniversary this year and has been worn by everyone from Brad Pitt to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, but Leight has been around the sunglasses industry his whole life. His dad, Larry Leight founded the Oliver Peoples brand in 1987, which he later sold to Oakley in 2006 and then eyewear giant Luxottica bought Oakley and its assets in 2007.

The pair have a separate high-end eyewear brand together, Mr Leight, and Leight says he learned his work ethic from his old man. 

"He worked really hard. And I think, you know, God bless him, but I think seeing how hard he worked, I wanted to try to work in a different way. So I've focused heavily on my team and hiring extremely talented, qualified people to run different departments so that I could have a little more freedom and the company wouldn't be so reliant on me," he says of how his approach differs from his father's.

As for what's next, Leight says this collaboration has been a source of inspiration in looking at ways of expanding. New lifestyle categories may be in the works, as well as creating more "experiential" retail experiences.

With this particular project Leight says he got a kick from working across new mediums and thinking about the details.

"I love the artwork that we came up with, even just the packaging for all of the materials like the cleaning cloth, and the beach towels and the stickers … the creative inspiration and original artwork that we made for this project is probably the main thing that excites me and that we really applied it to the various products."

The Rimowa x Garrett Leight Optical California collection is available now in select retail stores and online at rimowa.com and garrettleight.com