Way, way back my PR career all started with sunglasses. I did work experience with a company who had a huge sunglasses client. I was offered a role with the sunglasses company and became very good at spotting quality frames, lenses, and of course wearing them.
I love sunglasses. They are the yin to my yang. The boom to my tish! The perfect way to finish an outfit. Plus they have the added benefit of protecting your eyes.
Despite wearing sunglasses since forever (and I mean forever, when I was 15 I layby-ed my first pair of serious sunglasses for $240) I have a pterygium (surfer's eye). Yeah. It's pretty sexy.
So when I spotted glarce - a new Australian designed, Australian made label - I almost had a conniption. And the range is being stocked in the UK's inimitable Harvey Nichols - cue double conniptions.
The quality is beyond what you can expect in most sunglasses. The materials are superior, and once you put them on, the lenses are incredible. And the cases? I am a sucker for a good case - and these feature Aussie beach scenes. Totally nailed it.
Anything Australian made has my vote, and combine that with beautiful, quality sunglasses - I'm in.
I took some time out with Simon Larcey, creator of glarce to find out what's the tick to his tock.
PMM: Talk to me about Glarce. How did it come about?
SL: I lived in London for 17 years and always looked for Australian made products. I could not believe Australia did not have its own brand of sunglasses as sunglasses from Australia made sense. It became a joke between me and my friends. So I started to investigate and found a small factory that could manufacture my frames. I spent ages coming up with the name, branding, designs and then produced my first run.
In 10 words - describe glarce.
Casual, relaxed, easy to wear, good quality, made for sun.
What's the design process for a pair of sunglasses?
I normally take a variety of frames I like and try and create one design that combines all the elements of that collection. I make a lot of drawings. Sometimes it can take an hour as it is so clear what I want. A couple of my designs were works in progress for months! It just depends on how easily I can put everything together and the feedback I receive.
There's a definite visible and tactile difference to glarce sunglasses. They're beautifully made and feel great on. What's the secret?
I make something myself or my wife would want to wear. We are both quite fussy so it needs to look good and be of the highest quality. I also have a group of advisers who are the same and get their feedback before we take anything to market. If I get the green light from everyone, I’ve done a good job. If not, back to the drawing board! Secret is to do the best you can, they are frames that could be around a long time, so you want to make sure they are made well and look good.
In a time when some sunglasses are almost disposable, what makes glarce different?
As we develop the brand, you will not only be buying a product, but into a way of life. Our brand represents the Australian lifestyle of sun, sand and sea. We want people to think about that when they are wearing glarce. A great lifestyle, something all people around the world can relate to. Cheaper sunglasses serve a purpose, but are more focused on volume rather than quality and lifestyle.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I’ve got a sales and marketing background – I love coming up with ideas to develop the brand and creating cool designs that I think will sell. It gives me a creative outlet to do both sales and marketing which is such fun. I read one of the keys to success is to do what you enjoy and do it well. I am doing that so I hope glarce becomes a household name over the next five years.
Sun, surf. Why is it so important to wear sunglasses in Australia?
I think it is important to wear sunglasses anywhere that the sun is harsh. It protects your eyes and can also make you look pretty cool!. Being Australian made and using lenses manufactured in Australia, they meet the highest standards worldwide. Therefore to guarantee the best protection, sunglasses from Australia make sense.
Which frames do you wear?
I obviously have a few of each design. I’m fond of the Lonsdale as that was the first frame I designed. I still wear the original prototype. We’re just about to launch two new frames, the Winkipop and the Sorrento. I have a pair of Winkipop’s being made for me now – can’t wait!
What's a normal day look like for you?
I’m trying to meet as many people as possible to build sales channels, develop marketing ideas and get the brand out there. I spend a lot of my time making calls and sending emails. I do road trips to Dubbo every couple of months and spend time in the factory. I’ve also started to do sales trips interstate to build our retail network around Australia.
What's next for glarce?
We’ve just launched in the United Kingdom through Harvey Nichols. Next year we hope to enter the US market. We plan on working with our retailers and developing an online store in the future. We have some marketing initiatives launching in the run up to summer and a couple of potential collaborations in the pipeline. Definitely keeping busy and keep building the brand.