More than meets the eye

2011-08-12 11:52

Sunglasses, sunnies, stunnerz or shades. Whatever you call your eyewear, the one thing they should never be is boring.

Sunglasses have evolved from bottle bottoms to tinted lenses, colourful frames, no frames, UV lenses, mirror lenses and everything in between.

Enter “art” sunglasses, something to put on a pedestal with special mood lighting.

And Steven “Stevie Boi” Strawder is the man behind the art.

The 21-year-old from Baltimore, in the US, became hot property after America’s Next Top Model winner Eva Marcille wore his shades for a fashion spread and Lady Gaga used a pair for her Poker Face video.

Soon after, the trend of cutting-edge fabricated sunglasses was born.

The designer has been creating his masterpieces since 2009 and today trendsetters are sporting his signature military-industrial glamour on their faces.

Fresh from introducing his latest luxury line, COExist, at New York Fashion Week, Strawder reveals how excited he is about launching the sunglasses in South Africa on August 24.

“It’s fabric on the lens,” he says. “I started with the fabricated glasses and when it became big, I started experimenting with studs and spikes.”

His inspiration, he says, is his environment, but he adds that his biggest inspirations are Grace Jones and Australian performance artist and fashion designer
Leigh Bowery.

On whether he makes practical pieces, Strawder insists: “I never have to be practical, unless the client wants something simple. My goal isn’t to just create unique pieces, but to challenge people’s fashion theories and styles.

“My shades literally have changed people’s wardrobes and made them see a different side of fashion.”

Strawder believes his pieces are unique because they are all handmade.

“I make every piece by hand. I take a lot of pride in my art to make sure it will last,” says Strawder, who is working on a range of sunglasses for Britney Spears’ upcoming tour.

“I definitely know many people are inspired by my designs. I can say I have completely changed the eyewear business.”

He adds that his goal is to make people aware that they are not being ordinary when they choose his creations.

“I want people to feel as special as I feel when I wear my shades. Wearing my product seriously makes people feel as though they have super-powers. Everyone’s confidence is boosted. I think there’s serious magic behind those shades.”

Locally, SB shades will be stocked at selected stores from late August.

“As a kid, I got to travel the world, but I have never been to Africa and always wanted to explore the motherland.

“I have a great support base there, so I have to give my SB Gorillaz what they want,” he says, explaining that SB Gorillaz is his name for his fans.

At New York Fashion Week, Strawder launched his COExist collection to critical acclaim.

“I will also be releasing an Africa-inspired line mixed into the COExist theme in South Africa this December,” he says.

He plans to include other cultures and nationalities, with Africa being first.

“I am super-excited because this will be a huge launch for me outside of the USA,” he says.

He concludes by giving the following tip: “We fashionistas are the ones who push boundaries and step on the basics. It’s very important to wear your SB shades with the same confidence you would wear Christian Louboutins.”

 

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