While we pile on the layers here in the Northern hemisphere, our pals down under are relaxing into the summer months with one of the best accessories to ever grace the fashion world, a face defining, hangover hiding pair of shades. Despite the lack of sunlight headed our way, the latter of the fashionable face additions is still very much of use and are always a fashionable addition to any outing, just ask old mate Yeezy.
Portable spoke to Sydney based VALLEY Eyewear creator Michael Crawley, whose vision to create handmade, unisex glasses has become a reality. The innovative range of sunglasses draws inspiration from pop culture’s most chronicled frame devotees such as the iconic Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix, and aims to suit every Tom, Dick and Harry… and Mary.
Having recently released their latest collection, which features oversized frames with influences from the 60s, 70s and beyond, shapes such as a reworked cat eye, bold wayfarer, and kooky round frames are prevalent, and VALLEY has offered not only a grungy fashion film to highlight their intricate pieces, but also a documentary short film about the making of their covetable eyewear.
P: What is VALLEY’s point of difference?
Michael Crawley: What I have set out to do from the get go with VALLEY is use the highest of quality materials possible and create unique shapes, influenced by timeless classic designs from the past, I think we’ve definitely achieved a point of difference. Right now in-store you see a lot of wire used in the face and tiny lens’. With VALLEY our shapes are bold and solid, oversized, and you could potentially say somewhat unsafe… right now there definitely is a gap in the market for a different look and testing the boundaries without crossing the line. A great shape, a solid frame and amazing quality lens.
P: VALLEY eyewear is unisex, how do you go about creating shapes that are suitable for men and women?
Michael Crawley: During the design process I was super conscious of thinking that with 90% of the styles could be worn by both guys and girls, fashion is moving so fast these days that people are always looking to make a statement so I really wanted to reference classic shapes from the 60′s and so forth, and manipulate that design into something that was unique by us that could compliment both a male and female face shape and look.
P: Why create unisex pieces in the first place?
Michael Crawley: I feel that its ideal to create a range that can be enjoyed by everyone no matter what race, sex, whatever, we’re not about pigeon holing ourselves, it’s about creating eyewear that makes people feel like they’re going to have fun putting them on and enjoy it.
P: What influences the overall design aesthetic of VALLEY?
Michael Crawley: I keep referencing imagery of musicians; Kurt Cobain and Hendrix, and pics from Rolling Stone mags from the late 70′s. I’ve got this Kurt Cobain and Basqiat image, those two are my favourites. They seemed to have so much style and grace so to encompass, that now in a current collection would be awesome.
P: What was the inspiration for the latest collection?
Michael Crawley: I was inspired to create a line that would be a statement but without going too over the top but keep it timeless and have fun with it.
P: Can you tell us a little bit about the accompanying film for the collection; how do you think fashion film works for eyewear, is it successful, and what techniques are used to ensure the eyewear is the main feature?
Michael Crawley: We shot this film in one day, in the valley behind northern NSW. It’s basically all my friends from home and the basic point of the clip is to really just capture our lifestyle and how myself and my friendss live here; we love our cars, bikes and fashion. With subtle hits of the eyewear in the mix its not really super product driven but almost a ‘welcome to VALLEY, this is what we represent.’ Iwanted to paint a picture of what the brand is about and the truth of our lifestyle, not some kind of forced made up direction.
P: Tell us about the creative process of constructing the glasses?
Michael Crawley: The actual process takes around two weeks. Starting with the raw sheets of acetate through to the last of the hand polishing treatment is finished, then each individual frame is wiped down with a dust proof cloth and inserted into the packaging. It’s an amazing process that’s why we did the VALLEY Handmade clip to give people a bit of an insight into how they’re made. The general perception is that eyewear is popped out of a mould and cost around $5 too make, which with VALLEY this couldn’t be more further from the truth. I think people will appreciate how much hard work goes into a pair of VALLEY’s knowing that they go through around 25 sets of hand from the raw materials until the customer put them on their face…it’s amazing!
P: As an accessory, what drew you to eyewear. What do you find so interesting about it as a piece of fashion?
Michael Crawley: I’m so intrugued by what a pair of sunglasses do for a person adding to their look and image, and how much a pair of eyewear can instantly tell you about a person, it completely reflects that persons image. You can never have one pair of sunglasses and what pair of eyewear you’re rocking can completely make or break your outfit its amazing.
P: What shapes or ideas are you looking at for the next collection?
Michael Crawley: I’ve been experimenting with some new styles and have been also working with a few people on some collaborations for some up coming styles. I just got back from the factory and have sourced some really amazing new colourways and materials that I’m super excited about introducing in 2013, I think that people will be loving some of the new shapes we have coming early next year. I was inspired to create a line that would be a statement but without going to over the top but keep it timeless… and have fun with it.