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Introducing New to Know, where we fill you in on the recently-launched lines destined to make waves.
Founder Stirling Barrett's current favorite style, the St. Louis in Black and Oyster.
"New Orleans is known for many things, but style is not necessarily one of them," admits Krewe du Optic founder Stirling Barrett of his hometown, which is also the home base of his year-old eyewear line. Despite that, the 25-year-old is turning out some damn stylish sunglasses (with an optical selection on the way) while holding the distinction of being the only eyewear line rooted in the South. "Being based in New Orleans as opposed to New York City or LA is a challenge, but it's also one of our strongest assets," he continues. "We're able to differentiate ourselves in the market as an outlier. NOLA 'til we die, ya heard?"
Krewe's branding is drenched in city pride. For one, there's the name: "A krewe in New Orleans culture refers to the people that parade together during Carnival to pass a good time and bring joy to the parade-goer. I wanted to take that idea of creative people coming together creating something bigger than themselves and having a good time doing it, and translate that into the culture of Krewe, the company." Frame names reference neighborhoods and streets in the city, and the packaging cites a 1906 photograph of the krewe of Rex Carnival parade. "It's been great—and surprising—to see the frames be received well in the French Quarter, Uptown, and all over this city, but then received equally as well as around the world. When we shipped frames to Australia, I was like, 'Whoa, this is exciting."
The collection is comprised of a little over a dozen silhouettes made of Italian acetate, some with metal accents. Colorways vary by style, but include unique finishes like matte tortoise and translucent pastel. There's a confidence in the shapes and color choices that situate them nicely between classic sunnies and far-out fashion frames: They stand out, but don't overwhelm the wearer. Another thing to note? Construction is sturdy, with all of the unsexy but important details—like hinge types—handled with finesse. Prices start in the low to mid-$100 range and top out in the mid-$200s.
Like a lot of good ideas, starting a sunglasses line hit Stirling while he was floating in a friend's pool. "I was thinking about how much I wanted to wear a pair of sunglasses that I had designed," he tells us. "I'm a fine art photographer and artist by training and trade. I love being an artist, but I wanted to work in a field where I could be an entrepreneur at the same time and affect change outside of the art world. After that moment in the pool, my outlet became sunglasses."
· Krewe du Optic [Official Site]
· All New to Know posts [Racked]
· Sunglasses: 12 Under-the-Radar Brands For Keeping Your Cool [Racked]