Set for October delivery, the prescription eyewear resulted from consumer modification of the sunglass frames that are the foundation of the independent company, which is based near San Diego in the coastal city of Oceanside, Calif.
“We were seeing many of our friends, ambassadors and artists putting prescription lenses in RAEN frames,” says Justin Heit, co-founder of the company with his brother Jeremy. “It was obvious that we needed to launch our own Rx line.”
RAEN’s benchmarks for the optical line, Justin notes, remain the same as for shades: “handmade, heartfelt, authentic, independent.” The new glasses also continue to reflect his and his brother’s love of surfing, as they’re named after favorite surf spots and personages in hewing to the Southern California lifestyle that surfing represents.
New optical eyewear includes the Simmons, named for Bob Simmons, the legendary early surfboard shaper and San Diego surf pioneer; the Saint Malo, after the North County San Diego wave on which the brothers learned how to surf; the EightyFive-Sixty, a break, or wave location, named after markings on a railroad that lead up to the designated spot; the Leo Carillo, after the early film and TV actor whose conservation efforts led to the establishment of the Leo Carillo State Park west of Malibu, home of the Heits’ first surf-inspired camping trip with their dad; and the Seaside, a surf spot in San Diego they frequent during lunch breaks.
“We’re surfers and designers,” continues Justin, and most of our brand ambassadors are athletes, artists, musicians and photographers. We highlight their photography on our blog and print advertising.”
Indeed, RAEN’s continuing “Through the Eyes Of” campaign, begun in 2008, showcases the photographs of ambassadors like Kassia Meador, a professional longboard surfer, as well as a photographer and musician.
“We’re like minded folks, so it’s like a family within this creative community,” says Justin. He mentions a new tie-in with Burger Records, an indie record store and label in Fullerton, Calif., and says RAEN is working with one of its roster acts, The Growlers.
One of the company’s biggest ambassadors, though, remains Alex Knost, “the most influential longboarder of our time,” declares Jeremy.
“He made surfing classic again,” Jeremy explains, noting that Knost, also a surfboard maker, painter, filmmaker, photographer, and musician (his current group is Tomorrows Tulips), has brought the “esthetics” of 1970s “vintage, or old school longboard surfing to today’s time.”
“He brought it back--the Southern California lifestyle: music on the beach, long hair, living out of a van, surfing up and down the coast,” says Jeremy. “It’s in our DNA, and we tie it in with the timeless pieces in our collection, in how we present ourselves and in our marketing—and in flying the independent flag."
Knost’s signature Flowers frame remains a best seller “year after year after year,” says Jeremy. The rounded, flat-faced model is a nod to the historic Windsor style, and has a line from a Knost poem engraved on the inside of the left temple: "Jean's knees got holes and there's gum on my shoe, untied laces kinda trippin on you.”
Subscribe to my examiner.com pages and follow me on Twitter @JimBessman!