Photo by Pamela Evelyn.
In 2003 Swollen was signed to Virgin Records. We were all living in L.A., we had apartments being paid for and we were earning a per diem. Life was good. One afternoon while celebrating glorious existence, I found myself at a margarita bar during happy hour. In the hours that followed, I met a gentleman by the name of Chris Carter and his appreciation for affordable shots of tequila was in sync with mine and needless to say we hit it off like long lost brothers. Two days later, after a legendary weekend bender, Chris and I decided to ask each other what our line of respective businesses were. Turns out Chris worked for an eye wear company called RetroSpecs.
They specialized in vintage American pieces all the way from original Bausch&Lombe Aviators, to American Optical frames that were commissioned for the military for WWII. Swollen was heading to Toronto for the MuchMusic Video Awards and I wanted to look my best so I met up with Chris one day at his shop and bought a pair of prescription sunglasses. I wore them on the awards show, we won that year and, I have had a long love affair with the company ever since. In those 10 years I have never lost (knock wood), a pair of my RetroSpecs. Some have met with a breakage or two but I just pack them up in an envelope and send them down to L.A. where the fitter of all fitters, Hans Hettich, sets me up again and the relationship of loyalty and friendship continues. What RetroSpecs does is more than just sell you a pair of glasses off the rack, or in their case, out of the drawer. They keep all the frames in a great old wooden filing style cabinet and the feeling of nostalgia starts before you even dawn the specs. The approach is really an upstanding of the bespoke tradition.
You can choose your lens colours in up to a three gradient tint, the choice of frames and prices ranges from modest to wow and, if you so desire, which you will, they have custom cast 12 karat gold nose pads to upgrade the already fabulous cotton and crushed seashell ones that come standard. There's a certain unexplainable feeling of pride that comes when you know you are the only one rocking a certain piece, so I encourage you, next time you are in the market for a pair of glasses, check out my people at RetroSpecs, because sometimes you have to look into the past to be able to see into the future.
"You know it's hard to forget what you got looking back, looking back, looking back, looking back… " Lauren Hill