Corey Shapiro and The Vintage Frames Company in Papermag
A couple of weeks ago Corey was interviewed for Papermag. The past couple of months there has been lots of interview on Corey Shapiro and The Vintage Frames Company. It's always cool to see how different people come at him! I really like this interview! Check it out after the jump...
Meet Corey Shapiro, the man behind on-the-rise eyewear line Vintage Frames.
By Alex Chapman
that' s exactly what Corey Shapiro -- of popular sunglasses supplier Vintage Frames Company -- did. " I didn't find value in most things they were teaching us. They were all teachers that basically couldn't practice what they were preaching and who were outdated, so I left." Instead, he chose to learn from experience, first with an attempt to make mesh hats fashionable. But Shapiro, who now consults for an impressive list of clients ranging from Rick Ross to Perez Hilton, found it difficult to be taken seriously. "Store buyers would actually think it was a joke -- that one of their friends sent me in just to waste their time." The Los Angeles-based Canadian quickly moved on, trying his hand in selling vintage sneakers in Montreal, another endeavor that fell flat. "The concept was way beyond its time -- it wasn't a viable option. There weren't enough clients who wanted to be unique." It was Shapiro's grandparents, however, who birthed the idea for the ever-expanding business the 27-year-old runs today, when they gave him a pair of vintage Cazal 951 glasses.
"I basically popped out the lenses and converted them to sun lenses [at a time] when people were scared to wear such a huge frame. I became known for them, and since I [was already good at] digging for vintage sneakers and clothing, I decided to flip it to the glasses." Shapiro began to network with buyers again, but this time he had a new angle: what he had to sell was as important an accessory as any other in vogue streetwear item. "I was initially talking to all these dudes who were internationally known for their fashion reputation and schooling them and being like, 'Well you know it's cool that you found a pair of sneakers, but if you don' t have an elite pair of glasses that only match that sneaker in each of those boxes, then you' re not even really in the game.'"
Shapiro started to build a clientèle and, after he "stroked a couple dudes' egos and stepped on a couple toes," he started taking on streetwear's giant brands with a company that was limited, particular and, particularly, aloof. "Our business card is a black matte card with clear gel writing on it. On the front, it says 'the company formerly known as,' which is the name of our blanket company, and on the back it has just our phone number. We' d give it to people, and as soon as someone asked what we did, we would take the card back out of their hand. The whole nature at the time was that if you wanted something that was really unique in fashion, you had to have the black card, which was the access to our company. We purposely kept ourselves off the Internet and made sure we were more of an underground movement. That way, when we decided to bring it up, it was an organic process." Nowadays, the company is public knowledge and is willing to sell to anyone who is interested. But Shapiro and his partners maintain a central rule throughout their business relationships: Respect.
"We've been known to go into meetings with artists, celebrities, regular customers, and as soon as we feel that someone's not taking what we do seriously, we leave. Basically, we have developed this reputation where we want to be treated the same way everyone else is treated." One client Corey felt particularly understood this principle was model Amber Rose -- Kanye West's former flame, whom he calls "one of the most genuine human beings out there."
"Even before we knew her, we would have both men and women call up and ask us for Amber's glasses, which is rather unique. She gives a unisex appeal to product placement, which is rather rare these days." Soon enough, Rose mentioned she was working on developing a reality project, which is one more project on Shapiro's plate at the moment. "She basically asked me to be a partner with what was going on with the TV show. The TV show is based around her opening a high-end vintage sunglasses store with an interesting twist to it, kind of branding it more towards her. We liked the whole idea with it and threw ourselves into the project. "
Shapiro wouldn't divulge much about the show or future plans he has down the line, but, judging from what we've seen him so far, it seem likely we'll be hearing more from him in 2011.
This story was published on Feb. 9, 2011