Despite having long tied-up with the likes of A Bathing Ape and Japanese retailer United Arrows in the ’00s, now’s the time that Rimowa’s collaborations are in spades, with Off-White, Supreme and Dior co-creations considered grails as per modern hype culture. And although yet to be released, its mirrored and LED screen-equipped Moncler suitcase unveiled at the recent Milan Fashion Week is tipped for the same status. Its first foray into sunglasses with eyewear name Garrett Leight California Optical (GLCO) however, treads a sightly different appeal.
“We want to make sure it is an organic, authentic partnership — with both sides bringing an original aesthetic and expertise in their respective category to the table — to design products that are reflective of each other’s ethos,” the label’s eponymous founder Leight writes over email of what he had hoped to bring to the collaboration. The collection, conceived as a toolkit for a travel experience, then seems to hit a home run given Leight’s timeless designs favoured by of course celebrities, but also in-the-know creatives. For a surf vacation that’s a nod at his Californian roots, the Rimowa x Garrett Leight cabin suitcase comes a pair of sunglasses, but also a beach towel, surf wax, luggage tag and stickers. Also sold separately from the suitcase are six pairs of sunglasses and two variations of sticker sets.
As for how the partnership came to be, Leight says, “A mutual friend of Alexandre [Arnault] and mine at LVMH connected us, and he was interested in making sunglasses. We are celebrating our 10-year anniversary this year, and I wanted to do something really special for the brand.” Here, he details working on the collection with Rimowa, the culture of travelling in style, and why white was his colour of choice.
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ELLE: What was the collaborative process was like; share with us some instances that both brands converged on and perhaps, diverged?
Garrett Leight: The collaboration process was pretty seamless. We sat down and exchanged ideas on how to create a range of products that exuded the personality of Venice Beach and were functional for travel. We were aligned at the beginning that the creative should sit more in the GLCO world, which was easy and natural for us to execute. As with any collaboration, there are always challenges, but both teams worked hard throughout the process and we are extremely proud of the end results.
Walk us through the collection. How has your brand’s heritage and surf culture informed the design of the sunglasses?
We took a look at our classic styles and thought it could be fun to evolve the rounded shape, Wilson, into an aviator by adding a top bar. We wanted to infuse elements of the Rimowa brand DNA and custom engineered a temple with their iconic ridges on it, so it is really a reflection of both brands. We were inspired by the 60-70’s surf and skate era that was huge in California. A lot of the creative references we had included aviator styles so we leaned into that while still creating a frame that felt modern and relevant for today. The aviator style frame is a timeless staple that embodies the California lifestyle.
In your opinion, has the culture of traveling in style become more mainstream in the last decade, and was this something you considered while working on the pieces?
I do think people have more of an interest in traveling in style now. Throughout the last decade, travel products have given a nod to fashion, while remaining functional. From our experience in eyewear and knowing how much a frame can be a reflection of your personality and style, we knew the pieces we collaborated with Rimowa on needed to have the same feel.
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We teamed up with @rimowa to create an exclusive suitcase experience with all the essentials you need for a Venice Beach getaway, including a limited-edition RIMOWA x GLCO Essential Cabin suitcase, a pair of collaborative sunglasses, a beach towel, surf wax, luggage sticker sets, and a luggage tag specially crafted for this partnership. Only 100 pieces available—don’t miss the drop this Thursday, 8AM PST. #RIMOWAxGLCO
Tell us how you came to conceptualise the Rimowa x Garrett Leight cabin luggage as an experience. Apart from functionality, what else do you think the modern consumer wants out of luggage?
I loved the idea of a clean white being a canvas for your travel journeys. The sticker set we created allows the consumer to make it their own and add as many or few as they want. The colours of the ancillary products are bright and playful and things that anyone can use during their next trip to the beach. I believe the modern consumer is looking for high quality, superbly crafted products that offer a distinct point of view and that feel relatable to them.
In working with Rimowa on the luggage, did you discover any design technology that could possibly serve as future inspiration in your field of eyewear?
Rimowa is known for its craftsmanship and innovation in the design of luggage. The same attention to detail and creativity is something we strive for at Garrett Leight. It’s always interesting for me as a creative person to work in different mediums beyond my specialty. I especially loved visiting their headquarters in Cologne which gave me incredible insight into their process.
Beyond the actual products, what did you hope to achieve with this partnership?
I’m always interested in collaborating with brands that are outside of eyewear since it allows us to build out the GLCO lifestyle products within other categories that we believe our customers will appreciate. The collaboration with Rimowa was an exciting project with a brand that genuinely loved myself and obviously being the incredible global brand that they are, it that allowed us to reach a new audience of individuals and share our brand’s story.
The Rimowa x Garrett Leight collection is now available at select Rimowa stores and online.