BEHIND THE COLLECTION: The New Range From RAEN
It’s a shady business and RAEN do it well: the art and science of decking out the likes of Rihanna, Wiz Khalifa, Alex Knost and your next door neighbour in a range of contemporary, modern and functional eye-wear for any and every occasion. As they say, there’s no rest for the wicked and the team at RAEN have been working around the clock for the past 12 months to bring us their latest range – an eclectic mix of must-haves covering everything from tort to all-black acetate and seriously delivering in the style department.
For a brand backed by some of the biggest names in fashion and surf the team are surprisingly humble and down-to-earth with a palpable passion for what they do. It’s this attitude that makes them so successful and relatable to both celebrities and everyday punters alike.
With the new range fresh on site and generating a ton of interest it was a timely coincidence that enabled us to catch up with Justin Heit and Jordan Percy, Co-founders and Directors at RAEN. We sat down to get the technical details on the specs behind every handmade pair of RAENS, Justin’s faves from the new collection, their foray into the ophthalmic market (get out your dictionaries!), and a peek into the Oceanside California office antics of the team pumping out our favourite shades.
Join the conversation!
Justin, thanks for catching up! What’s your role at RAEN and how did you arrive there?
I am the cofounder and creative director. I make sure the brand’s DNA is consistent throughout all of the brand’s products and touch points. My brother Jeremy and I had this idea of owning our own brand since we were 15. After working for Transworld Media and launching magazines and being an art director for many other brands it was a goal to build and grow one of my own.
For those who don’t know, can you tell us what RAEN is all about?
RAEN is handmade and independent– driven by the horizons we seek. Designed in California we are undeniably influenced by the salt in the air and the lives we lead. Our search for an authentic and yet modern classic style keeps us evolving and inventive. We are passionate about every step of our process and are committed to making eyewear that makes you proud to wear it.
Tell us about the RAEN office – where is it and who makes up the RAEN crew?
The RAEN Home Office and Warehouse is located right on South Coast Highway in Oceanside, California. Our crew is small but mighty: from day to day there is roughly 16 people in the office; however, overall the entire RAEN crew consists of 25 awesome people.
What does a typical day look like for you at RAEN?
Product marketing and creative sprinkled with a surf across the way, but due to all the shark sightings it seems like the crew has been working more than usual lately! (Although maybe that’s a good thing!).
Sunnies – how have RAEN developed such a following and what makes the brand a standout in the eyewear market?
RAEN is very diverse. We didn’t want to limit the brand to just one industry and culture. It’s great to see our brand live in the fashion, optical and women’s arenas, alongside our favorite surf shops. All our collections are created with premium materials. We build with the highest grade acetate and then outfit with CR-39 lenses manufactured by Carl Zeiss Vision. Having multiple collections, ambassadors and press we have been able to grow into the fashion world. We are seeing the likes of Rihanna and Wiz Khalifa among other celebrities repping our brand! Our ambassador Alex Knost has also created his own collection in the brand that has been hitting it off in the fashion world as well. So you see our brand appeals to a wide variety of people and touches on different aspects from surf and adventure through to fashion.
RAEN – who wears them and why?
Guys and gals who appreciate craftsmanship and quality; a classic look, but with a twist. We’re starting to focus a bit more on the women’s market, and will be bringing more of a diversified offering to market in the coming months (metals and combination frames, new lens tints, materials, etc). Also, we are continuing to grow our ophthalmic offering (Rx) as well, to complement our sun collection.
You’ve just released a few new ranges (Wren, Burlwood, Mason, Potrero), can you tell us about the most recent: Burlwood?
The Burlwood Collection is expertly layered to create a unique frame. A pitch black acetate is fused atop the burlwood acetate on the bottom and temple tips. The overall look is reminiscent of the dash in a classic roadster, with a matte finish that keeps it low key and fresh. Available with a variety of CR-39 polarized and non-polarized lens tones.
Which pair will we catch you in from the new range and why?
I am a fan of the Gilman in black, they are oversized but still classic and match my black on black outfits.
What’s the process like (and how long does it take) to get a new collection from first concept right through to holding the finished product?
The process takes about 12 months from design kickoff to first delivery. The development process for handmade eyewear is time consuming for sure! Throughout the year, we have 3 developments moving along at different stages at any given time. Eyewear design is all in the details. It’s not just styling – getting the fit right is a game of millimeters, so there is a fair amount of tedium involved to get a new design dialed in. It’s a lot to keep organized, but payoff is great when you hold a new pair and wear them for the first time.
What’s your favourite part of this process?
I always get a little freaked out starting at a blank page. So the very beginning of any development is not my favourite! Just after that though, when the design goals start to take shape and you begin honing in on the right solution – that’s my favourite part!
How does the RAEN team celebrate the successful release of a new range?
We have celebrated with BBQs, surf trips and parties. Any excuse to get the crew together outside the office!
Lastly, what’s next for RAEN – anything fresh on the horizon?
Like I mentioned above, we’re expanding more and more into the women’s market, exploring more metal styles and more combination frames. We’re looking at light tint fashion lenses, new polarized offerings and refining our modern classic shapes. The ophthalmic market is growing slow and steady, and we’ll be bringing new styles to market to ensure more growth in that channel as well. Lots of fresh on the horizon!