Garrett Leight: Sustainable Sunglasses with Californian Spirit

Garrett Leight: Sustainable Sunglasses with Californian Spirit


Oozing Californian style and spirit, Garrett Leight, also known as GLCO, is not short of loyal customers who would praise the brand for its impeccable craftsmanship and fresh designs. Founded by the son of the owner of Oliver People only about a decade ago, the sunglasses brand has made a name for itself in such a short time. Read on for a breakdown of GLCO’s history and craftsmanship, along with its most famous designs. 

Brand History

Garrett Leight California Optical (GLCO) was founded by Garrett Leight, who was born and raised in Venice, California. His father, Larry, ran his own high-end eyewear brand called Oliver Peoples. Initially, Leight wanted to be part of a creative industry like music, but when his father sold Oliver Peoples to Luxottica in 2008, Leight had a change of heart — he saw the importance of keeping his family legacy alive.

He decided that summer to start his own eyewear company. He used the stake he inherited from the sale of his father’s business to invest in launching his own. Leight opened his first concept store in his hometown of Venice on November 6, 2009, and he launched GLCO a year later in 2010 with a collection inspired by his childhood. The collection featured four frames named after a street in his hometown of Venice Beach — Hampton, Rialto, Speedway, and Brooks — which he described as somewhere to “rent a nice house, lay out in the sun, walk around and eat food”.

“I launched my first collection off the influence of my customers," Leight said. "And my customers were just cool intellectual locals with really rad interests and jobs, but they flew completely under the radar. That's basically the spirit of a Venice creative. You don't really know why they're sitting at the coffee shop all day and writing on the computer, [but] they're actually doing something."

Leight had always been inspired by vintage eyewear, drawing inspiration from American icons like Arthur Miller and Hunter S Thompson. He aspires for his brand to have the essence of his inspirations while still adapting modern and cool designs. GLCO is a cult classic brand with a strong California aesthetic, featuring a unique collection of creative Los Angeles influencers and artists from various industries like film, music, art, fashion and sport. 

Today, the brand has over 800 wholesale accounts available worldwide, as well as about four standalone stores. GLCO prides itself in being authentic, original, aspirational and exclusive. 


What makes Garrett Leight as popular and successful as it is now is thanks to its craftsmanship. When asked what he thought contributed to the success of the brand, Leight said, “First and foremost, we focused on creating a high-quality product and original designs for a great price. We focused on every detail of the frames from custom hinges to custom core wires, laser engraving, glass lenses, and even some custom acetate.”

One of the highlights of the brand is its attention to subtle details. GLCO puts focus on the fit, proportion and comfort of every pair of glasses to ensure and guarantee customer satisfaction. The brand spends years mastering the intricate details of making a frame with its partnered factories before releasing it to the public.


While the designing takes place in California, materials like cured acetate and metals are supplied from Japan, Italy and China, and products are handmade in China. Leight himself said that even though they could make their eyewear anywhere in the world, they chose China because of the quality of craftsmanship, attention to detail and cutting-edge technology used in Chinese factories. 

Quality materials and lenses

GLCO invests a tremendous amount in ensuring the best quality for its products. The brand uses the most exclusive, highest-quality materials from suppliers in Italy, Japan, and China. The materials used include cured acetate ranging from dead stock to colorways that are exclusively designed and produced for the brand. 

As for the lenses, GLCO uses high-quality ZEISS lenses. These lenses are made of mineral glass and scratch-resistant CR-29 plastic. All lenses have various treatments including anti-reflective coating and layered mirrors to provide the best eye protection, clarity and visual acuity. 


Since the brand’s launch, GLCO is committed to being eco-friendly and sustainable. Some of their efforts include using recycled paper wrappers for its frame boxes and using organic and sustainable materials for its lens production to create environmentally sustainable lenses. 

For its first sustainable collection, GLCO creates eco frames made from a bio-based and biodegradable material called M49, a sustainable eco-acetate made by Mazzucchelli 1849 that works just like traditional plastic frames. They are produced with 60 percent fewer carbon emissions than traditional plastic frames and use 53 percent less energy to produce.  

“The production and use of bio-based materials have a double advantage: on one hand, the use of fossil, and therefore limited fuels is reduced, on the other hand, the emissions of greenhouse gases are reduced. It must be considered that the raw materials used in the M49 formulation are wood cellulose acetate and a vegetable-derived plasticizer,” reads Leight’s sustainability report. “These two components give rise to the chlorophyll photosynthesis process in their lifetime: a process that, in extreme synthesis, absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, generating vital energy for vegetation, converting it into oxygen.”


Many will agree that GLCO designs are among the best in the industry. The company dedicates its time to reinvention, taking classic shapes and redefining them into iconic and contemporary designs that are trendless and timeless. Because of this approach, many, including iconic celebrities and artists, have grown to like the brand’s products. 

Part of GLCO’s design process for new collections is drawing inspiration from fashion, music, movie and art of our formative years, and reconfiguring them into what the brand thinks eyewear will look like in the future. This affects various decisions like frame shapes, colours, details and even materials. 

Top Garrett Leight Designs for Men

GLCO is proud of the brand’s Californian spirit. In the past decade since the launch of Garrett Leight, there have been many sunglasses made for men. While all of them have varying degrees of popularity, there is a handful that is significantly topping the charts compared to the others.

One of the classic designs that are arguably the most popular style of Garrett Leight is the Brooks. This style is considered to be the patriarch of the brand’s sunglasses family and is a best-selling since its debut in GLCO’s first collection. The fame is a perfect blend of a classic square shape mixed with a round retro influence and a distinct keyhole bridge. It is made of cured cellulose acetate frame with stainless steel core wire and CR39 lenses with AR coating. Those looking to take a break from the thick frames of the classic Wayfarer would find this design very refreshing and modern. 


The classy Hampton design is the very first frame the brand ever designed, and it continues to be as relevant today as it was when it debuted over a decade ago. Hampton features a classic P3  round design, great for a variety of face shapes. Colourways include a mix of matte and vintage-inspired tones and temple tips. Owners of this frame could give it a second life with the handy Hampton Clip M, which is a sunglasses clip that changes the eyeglass frame to become a pair of sunglasses.  


Alternatively, the Hampton X Sun has the same frame design as Hampton, but it is primarily used as a pair of sunglasses. This frame comes in a range of colourways with unique lens tints.


The Kinney design is also a perennial fan favorite with its simple and classic silhouette. This frame features a semi-square frame and a keyhole bridge. While it is popular among the male customers, this frame is actually unisex and better for those with medium to large faces. The Kinney is a great pair to have in your summer rotation. 


Just like the Hampton design, the Kinney design also has an option for the Kinney Clip, allowing converting your eyeglasses to become a pair of sunglasses as well.


Last on the list, but definitely not the least, is the Wilson frame. This design ranks quite up high on the popular list of frames of the brand, and was inspired by the music legend John Lennon with round metal fames and Windsor rims, complete with tortoise temples. The Wilson frame is a style that epitomises GLCO’s brand aesthetic: contemporary, sophisticated and bold.  

Top Garrett Leight Designs for Women

 Some of Garrett Leight designs that are popular for men are also popular for women, like the Kinney and Brooks, however, the brand also creates frames targeting the female audience. 


Similar to the men’s list of top designs, the Wilson Sun makes it to the list of top designs for women. Some might even say that this frame has reached cult status with how popular it is. The John Lennon-inspired frame complements a wide range of styles and face shapes with the two sizes offered, contributing to the popularity of this design. Even celebrities Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski have been seen in this frame.


The Kinney Sun is another classic bestseller with a shape that is comfortable and stylish. It offers a great amount of coverage and comes in a range of colours. Best suited for medium to large faces, the Kinney Sun offers balanced proportions with a square-shaped frame and a defined keyhole bridge design.


A frame that’s a little more modern is the Mildred Sun. The design features a new retro-influenced curving cat eye frame that is reminiscent of those worn by Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in Scarface. The Mildred Sun comes in three unique frames and lens colours, made of cured cellulose acetate frame, complete with clamp-on nose pads with adjustable metal arms. 


One great for the summer is the Breeze Sun, a frame inspired by the ‘80s and featuring a distinct silhouette with an arcing top bar. This design provides practical left-to-right coverage one needs from the sun. The frame sits on the face’s second upper quadrant in a way that creates a welcome lift by freeing up the space from your cheekbones down. Breeze Sun comes in four electric colourways, spicing up your summer outfits.

Iconic Collaborations

The brand is not shy to partner up with other brands, artists, celebrities and companies for creative collaborations. GLCO has had countless collaborations including ones with Amelie Pichard, Thierry Lasry and menswear designer Mark McNairy. 

Mr. Leight

In 2018, one of the most iconic collaborations for the brand is with the founder’s father for a collection called Mr. Leight. It had been ten years at that point since Larry sold Oliver Peoples to Luxottica. Leight said that his dad has “been such a source of positivity for the industry. …(Their collaborative collection) felt important to me. Clearly legacy and family are more important to me than I thought ten years ago. (And) just putting that on my resume of life feels like the greater good.”

Larry said that the collection is  “more limited, exclusive and still simple and beautiful. It’s more technical, and there are more moving parts to some of the frames – but not gimmicky.”


Made in Japan by master craftsmen who have worked directly with Larry for decades using the finest, most resilient materials, the collaborative collection features original designs that combine the classic and the new which reflects the spectrum of both of their knowledge of the industry. Frame styles range from classic squared and round ones to more contemporary cat eyes, ovals and rimless. Customers can expect a unique range of colours, materials and styles for any occasion. 

GLCO x Rimowa

Another iconic collaboration is with luggage maker Rimowa to come up with a capsule collection inspired by the surf culture and art scene of the Californian coast. In the collection, there are six pairs of sunglasses — three metal and three acetate frames in shades of green, blue and black. Frames are more oval and round, looking stylish and modern.


The two brands also collaborated on an exclusive suitcase design that comes in a white glossy finish. In the suitcase comes with a pair of collaborative sunglasses as well as a set of accessories that has a beach towel, surf wax, luggage stickers and a luggage tag. This collaboration screams summer.

GLCO x FootJoy

Producing limited edition shoes and eyewear, GLCO collaborated with FootJoy to put a spin on the latter’s classic Premiere Series shoes, featuring custom tortoise accents, and a unique cap top option for women. As for the eyewear, the collaborated piece is a pair of sunglasses from GLCO’s Spring Summer 22 collection. 


The GLCO x FootJoy Elkgrove Sun frame is a homage to the gold legend Chi Chi Rodriquez — particularly the guy’s style. Inspired by the 60s, the frame features a larger and slightly oversized frame with a distinct brow line. 

Celebrities Wearing Garrett Leight

When it comes to icons seen wearing a pair or two of Garrett Leight sunglasses, the list is not short at all. In fact, GLCO is a brand that is pretty much a staple among celebrities. Names like Barack Obama to Kendall Jenner have been seen owning a pair or two of this brand. Below are a few celebrities seen in Garrett Leight: 

 Niall Horan


Zayn Malik

Brandon Flynn

Mark Ronson

James Dornan

Hailey Bieber

Emily Ratajkowski

Rosamund Pike

Shauna Faulisi

Sebastian Stan

Seth Rogen

Emilia Clarke

Tom Holland

Brad Pitt

Jennifer Lawrence

Robert Downey Jr.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Kendall Jenner


GLCO has come a long way in just ten years, rapidly making a name for itself in the eyewear industry. With its reputable list of clientele and endless collaborations, there’s no doubt that the only way is up from here for this Californian sunglasses brand.

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