Sunglasses, shades, eyewear, deceivers, whatever you call them – it’s fair to say that the eyewear market has a broad selection available for the consumer. But like any other category, there’s always a hungry upstart looking to get in and create something. In the next month or so there’s going to be a few new entrants into the eyewear segment. One of those new brands is VALLEY, and we grabbed a quick Q&A with VALLEY’s founder, Michael Crawly, on their thoughts and what they are bringing to market.
Q&A below and some early images of the range above. More to come once they fully launch…
Who is VALLEY?
‘Valley is a brand created by a small pack of individuals with no ulterior motives other than to to make great looking fashion eyewear that are made to withstand the test of time. To create a timeless peice of eyewear you can pick up ten years from now and they would have withstood the elements and high & lows of fashion trends.’
‘VALLEY —- creating timeless quality eyewear using premium materials and having one hell of a fun time along the way….!!!’
Why shades and not t-shirts or some other product category? Will other categories follow? If so, when?
‘My love for sunnies has been something that I’ve been into for a long time, I previously worked at Quiksilver and created the “velvet skull machina” line for those guys which was great fun. Since moving on from them I decided that I wanted to continue my passion for eyewear and do what I really wanted to. I felt that there were some great shades available in the higher end of the market but it’d be killer to make somethin new that wasnt going to break the bank. And who doesnt love to have killer shades.? Sure we are banging out a few tee’s and some hats and a few things of that sort but our main focus is on the eyewear and that will always remain our main focus.’
Why bring a new brand into the shade market? In the next month or so I know of Epokhe, Wonderland, VALLEY and one other brand who is launching into eyewear. What makes you think that there’s money to make? What is it that VALLEY is bringing to the market that the others aren’t?
‘I think WHY NOT… Dion’ and Kai’s brand Epokhe are making some awesome shades and I’ve seen some of their styles, they’re looking rad but those guys are completely different to what we’re doing. It’s like mercedes and rolls royce bringing out two new cars the same time and they both stand on their own merrit and in some other ways compliment each other.. The reaction to VALLEY within the market has been amazing and I think that the market is open for new eyewear labels and we seam to be getting welcomed with open arms. There’s always room for new labels and it also keeps everyone on their toes.’
What’s your main goal with VALLEY, beyond world domination of course…
‘Timeless eyewear keeping our quality at a premium. Having consistancy with innovation in not only our products, but also having killer marketing, P.R and FUN. The whole point of VALLEY when I started it was to bring in people I loved working with to make this the funnest thing ever. Which is what we’ll do.
With our product we will always focus on innovative shapes with the influence of fashion eras of the past. Styles for both men and women and updating our lens options, colourways and keep a consistant message with our marketing.’
What makes a good pair of shades.
Construction wise? I think using strong premium materials, and lens’s makes all the difference in the world..the strength and durability of the whole frame and the hinges is key
Style wise? The style has to compliment the face, all face shapes are different so we’ve made sure we’ve accomodated large and small face shapes. Across alot of other brands they have some cool shapes but for a limited amount of face types and looks , so we’ve really worked hard on spreading our line across as many styles and genre’s to accomodate everyone.
Why acetate? and not one of the other materials that you could use?
The strength properties in a handmade pair of Acetate shades is second to none. The acetate once the face shape and arms is cut goes into an oven for 4 days to remove all moisture from the material and give it strengthening properties. Then in it goes into a barrel roller for 3 days before the team gets to work on the further assembly process. The manufacturing process is more expensive due to the time frame it takes to hand make a pair of eyewear from start to finish. The injection mould cheaper road wasnt something we were even looking at, it has its place in the market but we werent going to go that way with VALLEY. I’ve been up in the factory and really hands on with the whole line of VALLEY coming together with the minor tweaks and changes to get it to where it is right now
We’ve seen a a bunch of brands jump on the Carl Zeiss wagon lately… What’s the attraction?
You’re right, alot of labels I’ve seen who really havent had such a strong eyewear department in the past have really jumped on the Carl Zeiss wagon and I’m sure their reps will be driving that home this summer. I guess its due to the fact that people have had in the past the assumption that brands will have good lenses and really, Carl zeiss have been one of only a few optical companies known for prestigious quality to stand up and make it known they stand by their lens’s and it’s quility. Every Carl Zeiss lens is like a bank note in the fact it has a water mark on it and their UV protection is second to none.. VALLEY has signed a deal with Carl Zeiss that we will use them in every style we do, to ensure our consumer is getting the best UV protection for the eyes possible – with a fashion looking style.. See this graph above in the gallery about how much UV protection they will have against your eyes..
We will have our reps showing the range In mid- Late july for an early September delivery for this coming summer…
You mention the fashion market is your genre, who decides that? The retailer or the brand? The reason I pull this up is that the word ‘fashion’ is thrown around way too loosely. Surf fashion, sure. But proper fashion? Is VALLEY a brand that could be seen on the runways at Mercedes Fashion Week..
I think that when you create a range you can clearly define which genre you are targeting, our shapes and styles are clearly not safe styles compared to some of our other competitors. Some could say that a few of styles are “wild ” and they could easily be worn by models on the runway in fashion week. Our target retailer is not your back yard surf store and we’re aiming to produce a high end quality product comparable to any eyewear brand around. But we are a young brand, no high end surfers here to pay, no huge overheads, we arent greedy… so we’re keeping the prices reasonable.. thats it.. quality doesnt suffer, the only thing that suffers is the margin going into our pocket…
And do you see VALLEY sitting alongside the SUPER’s, Karen Walkers and Graz Mulcahy’s? Or leading the pack that includes Raen, Electric, Otis, etc? Why?
I’d see us sitting along side any of those guys…. The guys at SunShades have done a great job creating the ranges for Karen Walker and Ksubi, so to be along side them is killer…
I think they’re all a great bunch of brands who make amazing shades on their own merrits wether it be Raen or Electric. I’m good friends with the guys at Electric and Otis, I’ll let the account purchasing the styles choose where’d they’d like us to be seen. We’ll be in Co-Op and The Iconic this summer. Im sure you guys will be stoked on the range when it hits shelves this summer .