NEW YORK—The world of eyewear dispensing now includes many more community and cultural involvements thanks in part to modern technology and the current economic climate. An increasing number of retailers and ECPs are rising up to meet new customer expectations by developing links with the art community. Often, this involves hosting gallery-style shows within their stores where, alongside the artwork, customers look at the eyewear collections inside the display cases with a fresh perspective.
VM explored how the optical industry is establishing art collaborations by profiling seven different retailers. We asked them to describe their partnerships from the beginning, what’s involved in carrying them out month-to-month and how these connections are drawing in customers. Here is the story of Gogosha Optique, a West Hollywood boutique who used their online feature to create a beautiful partnership, and some great art. And be sure to read more accounts illustrating the link between eyewear and art in VM’s Special Report, “ Fine Art.”
LOS ANGELES—When Gogosha Optique opened in March 2008, owner and optician Julia Gogosha-Clark knew her shop would eventually become involved with the local art community. “It was something we’d wanted to do but we wanted the first one to be very personal,” she said.
The flier for Gogosha Optique’s first art collaboration, with artist Linsley Lambert.
The interior of Gogosha Optique.
It was around that time that painter Linsley Lambert visited the eyewear shop looking for a pair of glasses (Gogosha-Clark described Lambert as being a fan of Theo frames). Having done various paint series in the past, Lambert became interested in the “Frame of the Day” feature on Gogosha’s blog, through which Gogosha posts a photo of one customer and their respective eyewear.
For the collaboration, Lambert created a series of portraits using Gogosha’s past “Frame of the Day” entries as inspiration. “It was a pretty fluid conversation. She’s obsessed with glasses herself so it made sense for her to draw people with glasses,” Gogosha-Clark said. As opposed to her usual oil paintings, Lambert instead made the series in pastel, which Gogosha-Clark noted, brought the artwork to a more affordable price point for Gogosha customers.
The artist’s series debuted at the Sunset Blvd. boutique with an opening party on Aug. 26 and the works are scheduled to remain on sale there through September. All proceeds will go to the artist, minus 10 percent the store will retain to cover credit card charges and costs. Gogosha-Clark said the nature of the art event enabled her store to reach people “who were waiting for an excuse to come in.” “We had people come back for the next three days to buy glasses that they saw at the art opening,” she added.
The 800-square-foot boutique specializes in frames by what Gogosha-Clark describes as “more creative, playful companies” with independent designers—“no licenses, no labels, no logos,” she remarked, adding that she believes her shop will continue to attract members of the West Hollywood art community. “They make art and buy cool glasses, we sell cool glasses and buy art. It’s a natural relationship,” she said.
For the boutique’s second art collaboration, Heather Louise Bennett, creator of The Doll Farm, has been tapped to make a series of her plush sculptures to be shown in November. “Because it’s a utilitarian item, eyewear has always been put into that medical bracket. So we want what’s on the walls to be just as inspired as the exciting frames we work with. It’s a common message that we’re looking to explore and promote creativity,” Gogosha-Clark said.
Presently, she is not worried she will have trouble finding artists for future endeavors. “I think most things lend themselves to a partnership with the art community. I don’t think it’s special to eyewear. Either you’re inspired by things you see or you’re not. It’s how we connect with objects and ideas. We have lots of customers who are artists. It’s really integrated into our daily lives… like finding a friend. You just find them, hit it off and it evolves from there,” she said.