Atlanta-based Red’s Outfitters has been killing it lately. Looking for the perfect, handmade sunglasses, founders Will and Brian took it upon themselves to fill the niche. Red’s currently offers two models – a Wayfarer and a Carrera – in a variety of color options at an attractive price point.
First – the Wayfarer. Pictured below are the ‘Chapin’ (all black) and the ‘Bridges’ (Tortoise):
Second – the Carrera. Pictured below are the ‘Dusty’ (all Black) and the ‘Scottie’ (Tortoise):
Brian and Will were nice enough to sit and chat for a bit…
What made you decide to start Red’s Outfitters? After we graduated from school, my roommate and I were in Sea Island working for a few months and wanted to purchase some new shades.
Whitner settled on some overpriced Ray Ban’s just because they were readily available, and I went on eBay and found some special edition Oakley Frogskins that were one of fifty pairs worldwide and paid wayyyy too much for them, just because they were exclusive. We got to thinking, isn’t there a happy medium? Were there any sunglasses companies out there that catered to people with discerning taste in terms of quality, color, and exclusivity? Whitner and I wanted something that was fashion forward while still staying true to our southern, classic traditional roots. We searched to no avail and realized that there was an opportunity right in front of us and both of our families had extensive ties to the fashion business, so this wasn’t an uneducated play. When we got back to Atlanta, we started reaching out to contacts, gathering our thoughts, laying out a business plan, and developing our initial prototypes.
The following Spring of 2011, Whitner passed away tragically because of a shallow water blackout, which is in layman’s terms basically “fainting” underwater. Whitner was a freediver and very strong swimmer but pushed himself too far one day while training. About two weeks later, Will Cowan (the hardest working man in eyewear), Cason (Whitner’s brother), and myself were sitting around our house and we started talking about the sunglasses company that we had been working on. All three of us were pumped about the concept, and we decided right then and there to keep the dream alive. Whitner was known for always having his yellow lab named “Red” with him, so we all came to a quick agreement that this was a great way to honor our friend and also a great way to brand the line. We had already been working with designer Greg Mike on a logo, so Will and I immediately tied him back in the loop and got moving with the newly revised concept…
In your opinion, what makes a good pair of sunglasses? Weight, style, comfort, and color.
I always wore Italian made sunglasses because of the high quality colored acetates used that created that “weight” that wasn’t found in non-luxury brands. When you pick up a pair of Red’s, the quality is immediately apparent just because of the weight and the way they felt when you picked them up and put them on.
Style needs no explanation but the great thing about sunglasses is that the styles are on a cycle and we don’t have to recreate the wheel to make something that everyone would love. Whether it be changing the size, shape, details, or just the lens, a simple twist on a classic can make something yours. You are going to see traces of classics in all our silhouettes.
Comfort is paramount. If they don’t fit right, people won’t wear them so we went through many sampling cycles just to get that perfect fit.
As you can tell on our shades, the part of the arms closer to the temple is thicker in order to balance the weight of the sunglasses and provide a better fit.
Color goes way beyond appearance. Ray Ban can make a navy blue pair of sunglasses, but if you broke them in half you would find that they are just injected molding plastics that are painted and glossed. With Red’s and our colored acetates, our colors our truer and you will find that the color on the outside of the frames are the exact same as the color on the inside. Also, color is big with us because we pride ourselves on making colorways that are exclusive to our brand (i.e.
the Frederica’s. You won’t find any other sunglasses companies making “Sea Island” inspired green sunglasses). Whether or not you have any affinity with the markets, schools, or people we are associating our colors to, they are still aesthetically something that anyone with great taste can love.
Tell me about the production process? The production process for colored acetate shades is much more arduous and time consuming for the supplier, hence why they are MUCH more expensive to produce. Each color is created in separate batches because our supplier literally matches the liquid compound to a specified pantone, where they are then laid into “sheets” of acetates then cut to order depending on the style. After the acetates are made, the hardware and detail work is done by hand. Screws are inserted by hand, and then tightened by hand. Lenses are inserted by hand. If the fit isn’t right, they are heated and remolded by hand. If there is a defect, then they are thrown away by hand. Smell what we’re stepping in?
What is the ‘Red’s Lifestyle’? The Reds Lifestyle is our interpretation of the good life and we call it the #redslife. Whitner is the quintessential example of someone that lived the #redslife. Whitner worked hard when he was in town but when he wasn’t working, he was freediving in the Bahamas, golfing at Peachtree, or flying out to Beaver Creek for a music festival. We cater to those who believe in the “work hard, play hard” mentality…as long as they keep it classy.
All of our pictures on our website are great examples of the #redslife. Will found an amazing photographer that shoots for Garden and Gun. He was based in Charleston so we had Cason’s boat meet us in the Charleston Harbor, invited friends, and just took pictures with an amazing photographer on an antique yacht (a 1926 Trumpy called “The Freedom”, almost identical to JFK’s “Sequoia”). We didn’t hire models.
We didn’t fake a thing. We just got a great group of people together on an incredible boat. I think we planned it all in like three days and had people come in from NYC, LA, Miami, and all over the Southeast. That’s the #redslife.
What can we expect to see from Red’s in the future? We are working on that question right now. We want to stay in the accessories realm, for now. Outside of accessories, we are working with a well known brand on a collaboration, short order necktie for Holiday season where all the proceeds from the tie go directly to Shallow Water Blackout Prevention.
We are working on four new silhouettes for Spring 2013, so expect us to refine what we’ve already produced and diversify our style offerings. Beyond that, think about the essential accessories. Things you always check for before you leave the house… keys, wallet, phone, glasses, belt, etc. We won’t tell you which way we are going first, but expect nothing but the highest quality, tailored colors, and maybe even some infusion of exotic skins and leathers (that should narrow it down). Although we have the suppliers to outfit you from head to toe right now, we aren’t rushing into anything. We have actually had some people approach us about opening some storefronts, but we are sticking to our guns for now.
What’s playing on your iPhone? My iPhone is currently playing a song by Booker T. Jones (a Memphis born musician) and Jim James (lead singer of My Morning Jacket) called “Progress”. Check it out and I love Frank Ocean. One of my faves.
On Will’s, I’m sure something like T.I., Young Jeezy, Drake, Lil Wayne, Justin Beiber, Two Chainz, or Outkast. Let Will’s iPod go on random selection for an hour and you will literally hear more Atlanta rap than you ever even knew existed!