For the past 5 years, The Vintage Frames Company has been personally outfitting some of the most fashion forward celebrities and trendsetters with sunglasses for photo shoots, videos, and special events where cutting edge fashion is a must. The Vintage Frames Company owner and sunglass aficionado Corey Shapiro took the time to do a Q&A with stupidDOPE and discuss what his company does in the sunglass realm, how the company got its start and how he developed such a love for vintage eyewear.
What’s your earliest memory of sunglasses and how did you come to be so fond of them? I have two rather early memories of frames. I used to get up super early in the morning and go eat breakfast with my grand father and his friends. All these dudes eating before they went to work with huge gold chains and big frames and sunglasses. Where I was from, this breakfast gathering was for only the most recognized of business men. This is how my fascination with frames began.
As for my first experience with sunglasses, I would have to say was when I was skiing and competing in the sport in the 1980′s. All the coolest dudes on the ski hill were wearing Vintage Vuarnet Sunglasses (or current Vuarnet Sunglasses at the time) as well as Vintage Carrera frames. I refused to wear goggles. They just weren’t my thing. So I became known as the young kid who always competed in sunglasses. I froze my eyes every time, but fuck it, I looked good!
The Vintage Frames company has been in business a successful 5 years now. How did you decide to spin your passion for vintage eyewear into starting a company that supplies sunglasses? Originally I had businesses that searched for deadstock vintage sneakers and clothes. This all became a very big pain in the ass. Not only was it very difficult to find the vintage product, but now you had to deal with sizing. As well, sneakers decay, and clothes get yellowed depending on how they were kept. Eyewear if kept in decent conditions never went bad! As well, it was rather forward thinking at the time, and I was dialled into a whole network of people that had tones of stock left. The same dudes I saw having breakfast when I was a kid with this frames on, had warehouses full of products left that basically made them go bankrupt not being able to sell them. I quickly took all the money I had made over the years and invested in stock, then re-invested, and did it again. By the time I released my company to the public, I had accumulated enough stock that it made it dumb to even try and compete with us.
Being that there so many new sunglasses that catch the consumer eye these days, what makes the Vintage frame company focus on brand name glasses from the 50s to the 80s? It’s what we like. I have had failed in different business ventures in the past trying to do everything. We specialize in these era’s of vintage sunglasses because these are the eras we like! What you like, you end up selling better. Those era’s in eyewear are by far the most influential. 90% of the frames that are made today are either exact cheap replicas of those frames, or twisted replicas of these frames. Th 50′s to 80′s are the golden years of the eyewear industry.
What could a client that comes to you looking for “the” glasses expect in their shopping experience? Well, we are not opticians. We do not wear suits. We are not fitting the vintage frames to your face, we are fitting the vintage frames to your attitude! We are fashion history majors. We provide a unique vintage experience so that our client fully understands what they are wearing. We go into the history of the frame, who wore it, where it was made, and why we have chose it for that client. We like to have fun with our clients. Also, we have thousands of different brand names and styles, things get pretty hectic! You can literally see 3000 different Vintage Aviators if you wanted to.
We know you provide clients with a wide array of sunglasses but can you name a few of your own favorite frames? I grew up with Carrera and Cazal sunglasses around me. Carrera in my opinion have fucked up the market with all these cheap made retro versions they have released. To me, they are the 7/11 of sunglasses brands today. Cazal has remained with integrity and quality through the years. Vintage Cazal Sunglasses are really well made. Their style in the 70′s-90′s was way ahead of their time. To me, they are even more relevant today. As well, Emmanuelle Khanh and Ultra are two favourite brands of mine. Ultra frames were always made with quality materials. They are bold and exciting. Even the names and script on the inside of the frame is exciting! Emmanuelle Khanh was one of the first companies to use skins on their frames. Every time you think that you have a grasp on what the vintage catalogue for EK was, you find another pair that you never knew existed. My all time favourite model, for sure the Vintage Cazal 951 Sungalsses, Cazal actually granted me my own version of it!
Can you name some of the clients you’ve had the opportunity to work with? What client that you’ve worked with seems to be as passionate about vintage shades as you are? I have been lucky to work with an incredible mix of clients. Lots of artists and celebs, as well as just frames enthusiasts. If you are talking about artists, some of my favourite to work with are Questlove, Rick Ross, Amber Rose, Pharrell… to name a few. The passion when searching through the Vintage Sunglasses selections I put together for them is what excites me. They are really into it!
Collectors are equally as cool to work with. Davon Ford, Troy Loferski, Jeremie Trepanier, Jamie Bobrow, again, to name a very few are equally exciting. They all have immense passions for the vintage sunglasses industry and are a pleasure to deal with!
Have you ever come by a pair that was hard to part with? What were they? Interesting question. Unlike many others in the Vintage Sunglasses industry, we only sell deadstock, meaning un-worn designer vintage sunglasses. You will never see me borrow a frame from the office, wear it for the evening, and put it back. All the frames i wear belong to me and are part of my collection. What is in my collection, is not for sale. I have curated my own vintage sunglasses collection for me to pass on as a family heirloom. Even if there are vintage frames that I think may be to “out there” for me to sport, I usually take them right away and put my prescription in them. That way, FOR SURE I have to wear them, at least once.
I have a pretty hectic Cazal and Ultra collection. I would never let any of those go, actually, I would never let ANYTHING in my collection go!
What project that you’ve worked on thus far, was the most rewarding? I have spoken at different schools, fashion and non fashion and that was pretty cool. Being able to guide the youth and motivate them to chase their dreams is by far the most reading thing in my life. If you ask just about eyewear. I would have to say my collaboration with Cazal for my Cazal 951 Sunglasses. It was the first time i ever saw one of my dreams or creations come to fruition! The Vintage Cazal 951 Sunglasses were the first frame that I acquired from my grand father that more or less starting my company! It was a big day for me when that box arrived! Don’t forget, I am not an optician or optometrist. When I walk into the optical show with big chains, 4 finger rings, and gigantic frames people don’t know what to expect. The first couple of times I tried to colaborate with companies in the first year of business they said NO! Now, companies are begging me to guide them! Funny how the ball is now in the other court!
So we hear you’re working on your own line of sunglasses, can you share a little bit of what we can expect from your line? I am working on my own line of frames yes. That will not come out, or even be seen by anyone until late 2012. For now, I will continue to do collaborations and limited edition capsules with companies I have respected throughout the years. So far we have done, Cazal, Ultra, and Caviar. Many other companies will follow. I also have a production project in the works with my big brother Rick Ross for his signature line. A TV show in the process of being filmed with Amber Rose. Plus some really hectic secret shit I can’t get into.
Is there anything else you want to share with fans and future clients of your service? The Vintage Frames Company is the original purveyors of designer vintage sunglasses. We have worked hard to carve a new niche in the industry. People that pretend to be us, or associate with us are not part of the empire. Too many frauds, and whack as dudes who pretend they are passionate about vintage frames and sunglasses out there thinking that they can copy what we do. The Vintage Frames Company is about passion, honour and our word that we will serve and treat our clients in the same manner we like to be treated! Please contact us at any time, even I am available at most of the time to personally help new and old clients!!! Keep it funky! Follow Corey on Twitter and visit The Vintage Frames Company – HERE.