U.S.-based premium eyewear brand Garrett Leight California Optical (GLCO) has opened its first Canadian location in Toronto, bringing its Southern California vibe to the busy Queen Street West retail neighbourhood.
GLCO was founded in 2010 by Garrett Leight, the brand’s creative director and son of eyewear entrepreneur Larry Leight, who founded the luxury brand Oliver Peoples. Offering eyeglasses and sunglasses for men and women, GLCO aims to bring a modern spin to classically tailored eyewear, with a focus on quality craftsmanship.
“What sets us apart is the vision which has always been to create the best and most unique eyewear experience,” says Leight. GLCO has become popular among celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joaquin Phoenix, Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Roberts. Leight describes the brand’s target market as “confident, creative individuals that take pride in their appearance, but don’t take themselves too seriously.”
The new store marks the brand’s first store outside of the U.S., where it operates locations in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Austin, Texas. GLCO designs are also available through various independent boutiques and optical clinics in more than 25 countries around the world.
Leight says he has wanted to open an international store since launching GLCO, and Toronto was an obvious choice. “Doing it in Canada felt like the best, most natural next step and Toronto always kind of reminded me of the ‘New York of Canada’,” he says. “I’d visited a bunch of times and loved it. The city, the people, the vibe—it just felt like GLCO would be well received.”
He adds that GLCO already has a strong customer base in Canada through its wholesale partners. “Looking at the traffic from our website, we knew we had a great base, so when the location and all the pieces started falling in place, I knew it was time to pull the trigger,” he says.
The new store, located at 692 Queen Street West, between Bathurst St. and Ossington Ave., is approximately 950 square feet, including the in-house lab and the back office. Leight says the trendy, hipster Queen West vibe was a perfect fit for the GLCO brand.
“Whenever I open a new retail store, I look for neighbourhoods that have a certain energy to them,” Leight says. “The Queen West neighbourhood has always been filled with young creatives. There’s a real sense of community, and a lot of young families. The shops, restaurants, green spaces, and local artists murals/graffiti draws in people from all over to visit.”
Designed by architect Daniel Hapton, the new store is consistent with the bright California-inspired look recognizable in all GLCO stores. The boutique is dominated by fresh white and neutral-colours, with planters around the perimeter of the space providing pops of green.
Although GLCO doesn’t currently have plans for opening additional locations in Canada, Leight says the brand recently began shipping internationally, allowing customers in Canada and Europe to buy directly from the GLCO website.
“At the moment we just want to focus on making this store in Toronto as successful as possible,” Leight says. “One step at a time.”
Photos by Katherine Barcsay