Garrett Leight California | An Interview With Head Designer Elena Doukas

Garrett Leight California | An Interview With Head Designer Elena Doukas

"Eyewear, like fashion, can instantly transform any look. It’s the first thing people notice."

Garrett Leight California is the kind of brand that although born in 2009 it managed to have already an identity and make statement eyewear models. Garrett Leight is also synonymous nowadays with lightweight frames.

If you are new to the brand Garrett is the son of eyewear legend Larry Leight, who founded Oliver Peoples. Today, Garrett Leight California Optical has two freestanding stores in LA, one in San Francisco, one in Dallas, and one in New York.

We have sat down with Elena Dukas Head Designer at Garrett Leight California to find more about Garrett Leight California.

Garrett Leight California | An Interview With Head Designer Elena Doukas

Headquartered in California, how does that influence the brand's philosophy and design process?

Garrett grew up in California which has drastically influenced the brand’s philosophy and designs we create. California style is known to be carefree and easy to wear and everything we do tries to be an extension of that. The California lifestyle in general plays a huge part in the brand’s DNA and identity.

As the glasses have a very cosmopolitan aesthetic that can fit in any city in the world, what inspires you? Where do you draw inspiration from?

California is the source of our inspiration and there’s a rich cultural history, so we have plenty of outlets to pull from. The brand was originally created because Garrett found a hole in Venice Beach. There was no optician serving the community, and nothing on the market that appealed to him - both aesthetically and from a brand lifestyle perspective. He and I created the brand and hoped our friends and the cool, creative community of individuals that reside in the neighborhood would like it. We felt that this same community of people exist throughout the world, and if we could tap into that, and the mystique of our lifestyle here in Southern California, that it would resonate globally. Luckily, we were right!

We have noticed many unisex styles among Garrett Leight designs. What do you think of "one style fits both genders"?

The majority of the brand is designed to be unisex. Every face shape is different, so we create all our frames with that in mind, while also taking into consideration everyone’s unique personality and style. Our main goal is for the customer to leave feeling confident and comfortable in the frame of their choice, without labeling it specifically for a man or woman.

How do you decide what to name each style of glasses?

For the better part of the last decade, we’ve named styles after streets in Venice Beach, CA to give homage to our hometown. Now, with each new collection, we name styles after whatever our inspiration is for that season. Our new Fall 2019 collection is inspired by a contemporary translation of the characters of Tarot, with each frame being named after a card and designed to reflect the personality type behind it.

Garrett Leight California | An Interview With Head Designer Elena Doukas

How do you think fashion and eyewear are linked?

Eyewear, like fashion, can instantly transform any look. It’s one of the first things people notice, as it is worn on the face and something you can wear every day. It’s character building and one of the most important style decisions that a person can make in my opinion.

Who is your ultimate eyewear icon?

Elvis Presley

How best would you describe a typical workday for you?

I split my day from working from home and working from our office. Our office is a really beautiful space and we have an amazing team of people that make the vision come to life. It’s an inspiring place to work from.

What's your golden rule of style?

Things not only have to fit your proportions, but they also have to fit your personality. So often I see people wearing glasses and sunglasses that don’t match the rest of their look. Investing in a few pairs allows you to dress for different occasions. Just like you don’t have one pair of shoes for each outfit, you should also have a few pairs of glasses that work.

Which destination is top of your list for 2020?

Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Singapore are two destinations that I’ll be trying to go to in 2020.

Garrett Leight California | An Interview With Head Designer Elena Doukas

What are your top packing tips?

Pack fabrics that don’t wrinkle! Packing cubes are also a must. I’ve found packing each cube by outfit works best for me. Less is always more when it comes to packing. (Ultimately you’ll end up shopping so save room in your bag!)