One of the most well known cooking initiatives around the globe is Bitchin Kitchen! The antics are fierce, the cooking is dope, and the host is pretty hot! Bitchin Kitchen caught up with Corey Shapiro, the owner of The Vintage Frames Company to talk biz with the wiz kid from Vintage Frames. I think it's one of Corey's finest interviews! Peep the complete interview after the jump...
All Eyes on Corey Shapiro
Friday, 04 March 2011 12:00
Meet Corey Shapiro. If you haven’t heard of him it may be because you just ain’t cool enough. Shapiro is lighting up the eyewear industry with his frames and he’s doing it with vintage style.
With clients like rapper Pharrell, gossiper Perez Hilton, and OMG Usher, it’s really no wonder why Shapiro’s headed for reality television on VH1 this summer. We met up with the entrepreneur extraordinaire to chat about how he started out, his growing enterprise, and of course, his cool shades.
Corey Shapiro: I have been a collector all my life, mainly towards vintage type goods. I was raised as a true sneaker collector. My grandparents would travel around the world and pick me up exclusive release sneakers form the day I was born. As I grew older I started smaller companies each based around vintage niche products. I would always wear my grandfather's old frames and convert them into sunglasses. The Cazal 951 was my claim to fame. The cool thing about frames was that they either fit you, or don't. Unlike sneakers, you don't have a whole slew of sizes. I decided to turn my passion into a business. At first, we attacked a part of the industry that wasn't yet developed at the time, and then expanded into different segments of the market. That brings us to today, getting calls from people flying us out for our frames and consulting services all around the world.
BL: Vintage eyewear seems to have a major cult following. Can you tell us a bit about where you fit in to that scene?
CS: I decided to start by attacking sneaker collectors. There is this whole new wave of men's consumers that were being raised to love sneakers. They were also super tuned in to limited edition products and releases. I decided to initially start by meshing my vintage frames with that community. What makes our service unique is 3 things: our passion, our knowledge and our products. The very elite clientele that we deal with not only requires service around their time (there are not many people that you can call in the middle of the night and ask them to fly out of their home to bring you a frame) as well as the most unique selection of products out there, but they also need a history lesson. Many of our clients are artists and they should know what the history behind what they are wearing is. That way, if ever called on it, they could give a very intelligent and proud response!
BL: If you had to choose a celeb you’d like to accessorize (that you haven’t worked with yet), who would that be and what style would you love to see them sport?
I would say DMC of Run-DMC. He is an idol of mine for fashion. I have never met him, and lots of my business is derived by people wanting his frames. The funny thing about the frames that DMC wore is that everyone thinks they are Cazal Sunglasses. However, they are really the Vintage Ultra Goliath 2 frame. I think I have been waiting a long time to have that conversation with him; maybe to find out more about why everyone thinks it is one frame, when it is clearly another. I like working with the old hip hop dudes and hearing the stories behind the shades!
BL: We’re a pretty rockin’ gang at BK. If you could suggest a pair of sunglasses for Nadia G which ones would you choose?
CS: Our Vintage Frames are fitted to a person based on their walk and attitude. The frames are based on confidence. I think Nadia G should go with thugged out Versace Sunglasses from the early 1990's. They have a certain confidence that comes with them that only certain people can pull off!
BL: What sunglasses are most popular right now and what do you project will be the latest trend in vintage eyewear?
CS: We carry thousands of brands and since our clientele is so diverse, I can't really say what the most popular frame is. To one crowd it is Cazal, to another it is Persol, and so on. I would have to say that our favourite brands are Cazal and Ultra. I have had the unique opportunity to collaborate with both of the brands to do our own limited edition revival models. As for trends, now, some smaller circular shapes are coming into demand, but that isn't really what we focus on. Not to say that we do not have them, they are just not what we personally care for. Our frames are more based on their history then a trend.
BL: You must have a personal favourite – which one is it?
CS: I would say the Vintage Ultra Goliath 2, Cazal 951, or the Emmanuelle Khanh 1000 frames are all my favourite.
BL: Many mainstream sunglasses today have a vintage feel to them. How do you differentiate yourself in a market oversaturated with knock-offs and cheap replicas? In other words, how do you stay ahead of the game?
CS: Man, the question everyone asks! Nine times out of ten, new frames are based on vintage frames. Eight times out of ten those new companies have rented frames from The Vintage Frames Company to use as inspiration. In terms of companies that make retro models and bring back exact copies of old styles, the vintage ones are always made better. Plus, why would you want to have the exact same frame and colour that other people have? Our products are diverse, and we stand out amongst the industry. When I walk through the optical show, people look scared. They don't understand who this kid is with four finger rings, vintage Chanel chains, and with gigantic editorial sunglasses. We are always ahead of the game because we know the past. To know where you are at, you have to know where you have been!
BL: So we hear you just got back from a shoot in LA - tell us a bit about what you were doing down there and what you love most about the city.
CS: I was in LA doing a couple of things. My boy, Wiz Khalifa, asked me to come do a quick cameo in his new music video, which was cool. Also, we filmed the first episode for the reality TV show I am on, called Behind Her Shades starring my home girl, Amber Rose! The TV show, I can't really talk that much about, but it will be airing in the summer! The thing I enjoy most about the city is hanging with my two friends Renee & Michelle at Catwalk Vintage. They are the coolest ladies I have ever met. It is the only place in the world that someone provides me the same type of fashion services that I provide to my clients.
BL: We have a saying around BK headquarters: “The difference between the thinkers and the doers is that the doers get ‘er done.” Do you think that’s why you are so successful, or do you have a secret weapon to share with all the aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
CS: I couldn't agree with you more. Before most people have woken up, I've done things, then done others, talked to people who do things for me, and hired new ones! [LOL] The secret to success is to never be scared to fail. Make a choice and see it through. If it is a success, take the credit for it. If it fails, take the responsibility for your actions and move on. The difference between thinkers and doers is many people have ideas, few bring them to fruition!
Tobias Haynes: Photography
Special Thanks to Andrew Burnett, Carly Fridhandler, Alex Cohen, & Daniel Bergel (T'as Vu? Optique )