By Raiment Young
When it comes to fashion eyewear domination, Italy’s Luxotica group has remained largely unchallenged, so I am repeatedly told. Yet, there are those labels that have been able to go on and do their own thing and still offer creative designs and sensible price. One of them is Italia Independent, the label created in 2007 by Lapo Elkann, dubbed as “the coolest Italian in the world”, who also happens to be Gianni Agnelli’s grandson, and, accordingly, the heir apparent to Fiat.
Perhaps, owner of the label is less important than the designs. Until its debut store in New York last year, not many know of Italia Independent. I had an upfront encounter with their much lauded eyewear eight months ago, during a visit to Florence. It is somewhat inexplicable, even up to now, that although I was in the leather capital of Italy, I was very much smitten not with shoes or bag, but with eyewear. And those of Italia Independent were so alluring that I was seeking them out at every eyewear shop I encountered, all the way to Rome.
The sunglasses were especially fetching not for the reason that they were attention-grabbing, oversized, or radiating obvious Italian-retro-cool (such as Persol, another Luxottica brand), but because they imparted a certain sleekness that has nothing to do showiness, such as those of the brash love children of Raybans and some designer shades, you know the type that seems to attract look-at-me fashionistas.
One of the earliest labels to tap Italia Independent’s indie appeal is Adidas Originals. Launched first as footwear in 2014, the Adidas Originals X Italia Independent sneakers did not immediately make waves. I was not particularly impressed as they appeared a tad too designed to me. It would take what the brand is truly known for to bring attention to the collaboration. Last year, their eyewear debut was considered one of the most appealing and also testament to Italia Independent’s strength and ability to built fun on top of the technology behind the glasses.
And one of them tech is what Italia Independent calls “thermic”. A special treatment is applied to the surface of some of the frames, and when these are exposed to temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius (yes, our daytime temperature), they change colour to expose a base texture, in this case, a repeated pattern based on Adidas’s trefoil logo. This technology is developed by Italia Independent and was awarded Innovation of the Year in 2014 by MIT Review Italy.
Not that I am charmed by this chameleon quality since colour mutability on eyewear, to me, borders on gimmicky, but I have no doubt many others would. What really is even more appealing is the construction of the glasses. They are undeniably sturdy and incredibly light, with a fit that’s really comfortable. Fitted with lenses that protect the eyes from UV rays, these are sporty shades that are destined to face the harshest mid-day light. And since Italia Independent eyewear is, as far as I know, not yet available here, these are the ideal intro to what you’ll otherwise miss.
Adidas Originals X Italia Independent sunglasses for men and women, from SGD185, are available at Nanyang Optical and select retailers. Photos: Italia Independent