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Garrett Leight: the Man Behind the Lenses

Jul 2, 2016

Garrett Leight: the Man Behind the Lenses


We met up with Garrett Leight, the man behind the lense, during his Venice to Chicago pop-up shop at The Virgin Hotels Chicago to talk about why he’s all about texting (not calling), the inspirations behind his designs, and of course—Kanye.

What draws you to eyewear the most?

I guess just runs in the family. Both my parents did it and were very good at it, so I went to work for my dad after college and just saw an opportunity and took advantage of it.

After that initial oppurtunity, where did you start looking for design inspiration? Is there someone you design for in particular?

Mostly myself and my friends. The style of the community that surrounds me is very inspiring and it seems to have a trickle down effect to the rest of the world.

Since we’re in Chicago for The Virgin Hotels pop-up shop, what’s your perfect Chicago day?

I think I’m about to find out since I’ve only been to Chicago twice—and that was in the winter. It would have to involve the Cubs, some beers with a view of the water, a dip in a pool, a bike ride, and three amazing meals. I just don’t know where exactly to go.

Is there anything about Chicago that you just can’t find in Venice?

It’s gotta be the proximity of large buildings to the water—there’s something beautiful about that. I’d love to go on a boat ride on Lake Michigan.

What is your ultimate artistic nightmare?

Creativity for the sake of it. Art is accepting your minds decisions and standing behind it. People who change their mind all the time or point fingers aren’t good artists. You have to be willing to believe in what you believe in and stand behind. My nightmare is collaborating with people like that.

Agreed. On the flip side, what’s the most inspiring place your work has taken you?

There’s a lens factory on the coast of Italy along the Adriatic Sea. There’s also a factory along Lake Como that I’ll never forget. Italy is the best. Nothing compares—not Tokyo, France, nothing. These remote cities in Italy are beyond epic.

Music. What do you have on repeat right now?

Hmmmm…it changes all the time. Been a lot of Kanye and Drake this year. But Marley is a daily rotation.

Do you have any favorite musical artists coming out of the Chicago?

Curtis Mayfield hands down. I also just learned that Ray Manzarek of The Doors and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine were from Chicago. Patti Smith and Eddie Vedder too! Modern day, without a doubt is Kanye—no contest.

But seriously…call or text? 

Hahahaha. Are you serious? Never call. Never.

Is there anything you can’t leave the house without?

Sunglasses, obviously. Every single day I grab a pair of glasses before I leave the house.

Never caught dead in?

Never say never.