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Can sunglasses be as comfortable as a favorite pair of jeans? Salt Optics sees no reason why not. The two-year-old Southern California company, founded by chief executive officer Taylor Whisenand, formerly of Quiksilver, and Oliver Peoples alums designer David Rose and vice president of sales Ron Smith, is on a mission to combine fashion and technology to achieve that all-too-often elusive eyewear goal: the perfect pair for every person. “When you put eyewear on, it should feel like you aren’t wearing eyewear at all,” says Whisenand. He calls that state of eyewear nirvana “pure fit,” something that can be reached through careful studies of facial structures, especially the sizes of temples, nose bridges, cheekbones and spaces between the eyes. Luckily, Rose has become something of a face expert. He’s picked out glasses for hundreds of would-be Salt Optics loyalists, whom he either assesses in person or in photographs. Later this year, Salt Optics is considering launching an online fit program that allows customers to upload pictures and be given eyewear choices based on their dimensions. Eyewear fittings aren’t the easiest of tasks. Rose has discovered that people can be as uneasy trying on glasses as they are swimsuits, and the glasses themselves vary substantially. “It is amazing how different one millimeter can make a frame,” he says. Salt Optics’ wide range — the brand offered nine aviator options in its spring assortment this year, for example — is key to finding the ideal shape. “There is a frame within the whole collection for almost every face,” says Benjamin Montoya, owner of City of Angels and Selima et Benjamin eyewear boutiques in the Los Angeles area. Salt Optics sunglasses retail for $250 to $400 and are available in roughly 210 doors nationwide, including Theory, Blue Bee and Scoop. When in doubt, Montoya advises Salt Optics shoppers to choose from the brand’s aviator selection. “They are like a pair of Levi’s,” he says. “They never go out of style.”
This story first appeared in the July 21, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.