Sunglasses: Not just a look but a lifestyle

Sunglasses are synonymous with the Southern California lifestyle, and several new lines and brands are adding to the area's booming market.

Each line is inspired by Los Angeles' coastal look and caters to the eyewear aficionado who invests in accessories with high-end details and statement-making aesthetics.


From established eyewear brands based in West Hollywood to newly formed "crews" out of Malibu, here are a handful of the latest in the world of Southern California sunglass brands.

Oliver Peoples West

Luxe eyewear line Oliver Peoples has fueled the world's appetite for fashionable eyewear since launching in West Hollywood nearly 30 years ago. This summer the company has its sights set on leveraging the brand's Southern California roots even further, debuting a new collection of sunglasses called West.

Inspired by a casual, coastal lifestyle, the line consists of seven sunglass frames all sportier than the glamorous Oliver Peoples main collection.

"We got inspired by what our customers might be doing when they are off duty," says company co-founder Larry Leight. The brand kicked off the collection's launch with an event in Malibu in April, where the line was showcased alongside the photographs of two-time world champion surfer Daize Shayne Goodwin.

"Being L.A.-based has influenced us creatively on all levels," Leight says. "The lifestyle — elements of fashion, film, music, art, sport and the unique Los Angeles landscape — remains a key part of our brand DNA. For Oliver Peoples West, we explored the coastal, California lifestyle and wanted to offer a casual solution with functional elements."

Each pair contains lightweight polarized lenses and a titanium temple tip for comfort while hiking or playing at the beach. A bright blue lens called "Maliblu" is a signature feature of West and an option for each of the seven styles in the collection.

West is available at Oliver Peoples stores and ranges from $265 to $295.


The Malibu lifestyle, with its multimillion-dollar real estate and celebrity enclaves, is enviable, to say the least. Now three area locals are capitalizing on the Malibu "brand" with a new eyewear collection called Sicky — a Malibu term for "cool."

John Hildebrand is the line's founder and designer, and his partners are his brother Madison Hildebrand (a TV personality and real estate agent) and Cisco Adler (a musician and son of record producer Lou Adler).

Launched last year, the brand boasts mostly unisex frames made in Italy and Japan in a range of colors such as a watery, pastel lavender and a classic tortoise.

"In Southern California, people take sunglasses very seriously," John Hildebrand says. "It's a functional accessory, and like a woman choosing her nail polish color, it's an easy way to throw some creativity and edge into a look."

Creativity also appears in the form of all-leather frames and varying finishes such as a matte red or black gloss. To back up the brand, Hildebrand and his partners have formed a "crew" of local artists, musicians and designers to act as ambassadors for the line.


"Our brand is all about community and supporting our crew members with whatever insane projects they have going on in their world," Hildebrand says of the crew, which includes singer Skylar Grey, rapper Tayyib Ali and stylist Ashley Montague.

Sicky is available at the Malibu Eye Center and at Glasses range from $189 to $530.

Waraire Boswell x Garrett Leight

Garrett Leight, son of Oliver Peoples co-founder Larry Leight, has made a name of his own in the eyewear world.

His Abbot Kinney outpost sells labels coveted by the fashion community, and he has tapped designers such as Thierry Lasry and Mark McNairy for recent collaborations.

His latest collaboration is with L.A-based menswear designer Waraire Boswell and it focuses on Boswell's core customer base of tall men.

The duo worked together to create a frame that fits a larger bone structure and is available in sun and optical options in three color ways.

"We were looking to add a new frame for medium to large size faces," Leight says. "Being that Waraire makes custom suits for men 6-feet-2 and taller, it was the perfect fit."

The Waraire Boswell x Garrett Leight frame is available at for $395.