metrounisexual™ (met’ro’yoo’ni-sek’shoo-el): n., adj. 1. a phrase coined and trademarked in hopes that it would be picked up by fashion bibles so that its royalties may pay for someone’s iced soy latte and traffic ticket habits. 2. an excuse to write out a faux dictionary definition as an opening hook in attempt to snare readers. 3. something or someone that is fashionably image-conscious in a gender-ambiguous way, ie. “Initium Eyewear’s line of sun glasses, with classic, fashion-iconic shapes, are the perfect selection for a Los Angeleno metrounisexual™ on a sunny SoCal day.”
There are the highway patrolman “Cocktails” lenses sported by Avril Lavigne, then there are the Jackie O, “LAX” femme frames donned by skateboard demigod Tony Alva, then there are the feelings that Initium Eyewear’s debut and spring collection toys with gender-bending and sex-negligent aesthetics.
“I intentionally tried to design eyewear that works transgender,” says Darin Dennee, founder and president of San Diego-based Initium sun glasses. “There are a couple styles that lean harder toward women; however, in the current unisex fashion climate, there are no gender rules. It makes the eyewear category very fun. I’ve made a point of trying to show both men and women in the same styles to allow the individual to decide which frames work for them based on shape alone.”
Initium eyewear frames may stand alone, but they sit on displays alongside Gucci and Ray Ban lenses in stores like American Rag and Fred Segal, while Initium the company holds hands with bands: “This brand is meaningless to me as its creator if it doesn’t work alongside artists to promote great music,” says Dennee. “I think that my friends in music as well as my heroes in music have been supportive of Initium due to our synergistic approach. I started the company to make eyewear for musicians and not to merely use their celebrity to sell my product to sheep herding through the malls of America… The brand was linked entirely to music from the beginning due to the fact that my friends and I had moved from a board sports focused lifestyle into activities and careers focused more on music and fashion. It’s a natural progression. You skate and surf your whole life growing up, never make any money at it, and disappoint your parents. So when you get a little older and your back goes out, you move into making music, film and fashion to continue a life’s work of making no money and disappointing your parents.”
Designed by Dennee, his sales team, and music friends — “Not sure how it would be perceived, but none of us have any formal design training other than being very particular and opinionated about style and quality” — , inspired by music — “I design many of my shapes with specific artists in mind” — Initium sunglasses color outside traditional gender image lines while retaining recognizable forms.
“I wanted our line to be a balance of new ideas and reintroductions of classic silhouettes,” explains Dennee. “I felt that designer eyewear was collectively trending toward very forward styles and becoming so slick that it was alienating my demographic: music and fashion enthusiasts. My peer group was buying premium denim for hundreds of dollars and weathered rock-inspired T-shirts for $80 and then paying $9.99 for their eyewear because nothing out there fit within the aesthetic,” an aesthetic with rock n’ roll muses, mirroring the company’s heavy synergy with the music industry.
There are the sleek Boxcars, “a Ray Charles-inspired model, [and] the Cocktails were inspired by the artwork on the Danzig debut vinyl album jacket, [while] the Nighttowns”–thin wires framing a large lenses–“were inspired by Bono and the musical contributions of U2,” describes Dennee.
Rock n’ roll fashion may be tres American, but Initium eyewear itself is manufactured in the land responsible for cappuccinos.
No, Initium doesn’t have a factory in a Starbucks in Seattle.
Think more tutto Italiano.
“We’re out to make the highest quality eyewear possible and it helps to start with a point of origin on our product that is known for quality,” says Dennee. “Italy also boasts such a strong resume and history when it comes to producing eyewear. They have the best mechanical infrastructure and production processes, which tends to translate into the best eyewear. I believe it to be far more than a geographic placebo effect — you can tangibly feel the quality difference between and Italian-made piece and one made in, for instance, China, the second you pick up the frame.”
From very American inspirations and a southern California base, to Italian manufacturing, and distribution as wide as Barney’s New York in Tokyo, Initium lays base for the “international” in the company’s subtitle of
international opticcult (in’ter-nash’e-nel opt’ih-kult): n. 1. my cue to ask Dennee a linguistics question. 2. it’s —
” — a title I came up with for fans of music and fashion who had been neglected for too long in the category of eyewear,” says Dennee. “We were out there all along, restless and waiting for our opportunity to be addressed. Now our allegiance lies with Initium… the uprising has begun.”
And Initium’s definition of “uprising”? See:
1. expansion beyond the compilation CD gift paired with a purchase of their glammy glasses and promotional tee shirts and trucker hats politely plastered with Initium logo and artwork, ie. “We have a bunch of stuff coming down the pike. In addition to the new models, we have a series of events that will begin to showcase the bands we are fortunate enough to work with,” says Dennee. “Best way to get details on the coming events is to get signed up on the Opticcult mailing list at the website… As for the design projects pending, you’ll just have to wait and see how many proverbial ‘checks’ my butt can cash.”
“We don’t intend to limit the brand’s expansion,” continues Dennee. “We intend to make Initium a moniker synonymous with quality and the rock and roll lifestyle in multiple categories of not only fashion, but entertainment as well. There is so much more we want to excel at, but we will do our damnedest to master each category before taking on the next adventure.”