Westward Leaning has a new game plan. The San Francisco-based eyewear company is looking to amplify brand awareness by extending into the sport category.
“The movement toward sport-inspired streetwear; the unstoppable growth of the ath-leisure category, and our customer sits at that intersection. We felt strongly that we needed to create a line of eyewear that was equal parts both. We felt that current sport eyewear lines were missing the mark, taking a pair of existing sport sunglasses made originally for men and then turning it pink. Fashion-forward men and women shouldn’t have to choose — we want them to be as excited about the style as the function,” said Catherine Magee, chief executive officer of the brand.
The push into a new category is a first for the e-tailer since its founding by Robert Denning in 2012. Westward Leaning came to market alongside brands like Warby Parker and Eyefly, but has paved its own way with its socially conscious ethos, slowly building the brand digitally first as purely direct-to-consumer in its early years, and then partnering with select retailers.
“We will continue to be a digitally native, e-commerce-focused business primarily and that will not change. But customer experiences are not one-dimensional,” Magee said.
The sport collection is fully unisex and introduces three sunglass frames that feature ultralightweight metal construction, rubberized temple tips, adjustable rubber nose pads and 100 percent UVA/UVB shatter-proof lenses with antiscratch coating. The collection retails from $45 to $225 and will help to fund the creation and execution of the Street Soccer USA’s Ladies First initiative whose mission is to fight poverty and empower underserved communities through soccer, specifically for girls, ages 6 to 18.
“It will be our most involved effort to date to support and share its story to our customers who look to Westward Leaning to produce products that stand for and support meaningful causes. It demonstrates to customers that their purchases can make a difference, and shows leaders in our industry that creating a brand that cares also creates shareholder value,” Magee said.
The range will be unveiled May 3 with a campaign on the brand’s web site and social channels featuring influencer Aleali May and actress Jamie Chung. Both will also serve as brand ambassadors.
Pushing into the sport category isn’t the only thing new with the brand, as June will see it open its first retail location in its hometown of San Francisco. Magee would rather call it a showplace for the brand as opposed to a store.
“It is a space designed for interacting and sharing as much as it is for shopping; we will use the space to host local events and fundraisers throughout the year. The brand has a lot of new launches coming up starting with Sport. We as a brand have a lot to say and this will help us do that.”