Interview: Valley Eyewear
Learn a few things from Valley Eyewear founder, Michael Crawley.
Some of you rascals may recongise the name Michael Crawley, MC was one of Australia's most revered and loved dropkneeers in the '90s. Basically he fucking killed it, without him and a few others, kids wouldn’t be doing what there doing on the knee these days. Anyway these days he heads up Valley Eyewear, putting out some of the raddest and freshest shades this side of the universe. I’ll let MC fill you in on the story and all the other bits.
The story so far, how did Valley Eyewear start, who’s involved and what were you doing before you were killing it in the eyewear world?
I started VALLEY really after a long stint with Quiksilver, I had been made redundant and was sitting around the house with my redundancy money wondering what next. I’d just designed a small line for Quik in France i called 'Velvet Skull Machina', which was received well. I loved eyewear and loved the process of the design elements, which I’d gone through designing that line. Not having people modify my stuff and having control over it seamed to good to be true. I was offered a gig with another big company in marketing and in my decision to not do the job I gave the excuse, "I'm going to start my own eyewear company instead". So I guess there wasn't any going back from that. So I focused on designing the first collection with the total basic pen and paper and started sourcing the best materials I could….
VALLEY is just myself and my wife Tennille who heads up the sales department, George Hendo helps out occasionally with some graphic stuff as does Natas Kaupas and others. I totally encourage our close friends to add in whatever they think necessary. Steve Baccon just shot some of the latest campaign, Kane Skennars shooting some stuff for us and Max Snow in NYC is also contributing. It’s really a big group colab that I steer along my eyewear collection… It's pretty insane and it seams to be working well….
The brand has grown exponentially over the past couple of season. What you would put this success down to?
I think it's due to the fact not only is our eyewear quite different to what’s out there; we don't look like Raen, Epokhe or Sabre, but people wanted something different, as a lot of stuff that is out is really stale in my total personal opinion. When we started out it was really hard to differentiate in the cabinet in stores the difference between most brands so I really wanted us to have a distinct look and feel and stand alone. We're not going near surf accounts, we don't have a surf team, we're not a surf company. We're lifestyle fashion eyewear brand, the quality of our product is second to none and we have the weight and heavy duty feel of timeless quality eyewear that people can appreciate that is all around and under the $200 mark. Our marketing is consistent and strong people don't get a confused message from us… simple elements really…
The Dead Coffin Club co-lab is rad. The campaign was insane! How did this come about and what inspired it?
George Hendo is one of my good mates, he was hangin around us doing bits and pieces for us and he had done some cool stuff with his 'A Dead Coffin Club' page and was making little short films and shooting some cool imagery etc., and he bought in some shades he liked for reference so we did up some styles for him and he picked one he liked. Dropped his cross that he used in the face detail and I threw in the side bevelled arm detail in there and George picked the colour palette from some swatches I grabbed from the acetate factory… That was it - we added the 'A Dead Coffin Club' to the collection, which has been a really successful style for us and we have introduced another dark tort colour way with gold cross detail in the new 'Into The Void' collection...
Are there plans in the pipeline for more co-labs?
We are collaborating a lot now with a bunch of people… So many photos… Amazing artists etc. We have a lot of stuff in the pipeline - I'm not saying "no" to anything… Everything's an option… We can do whatever we want and if it’s the right fit and it seams like it'd work and be fun, of course we're gonna do it.
Valley has a very strong aesthetic. What inspires, influences and drives yourself and the brand?
Music inspires me a lot, I’d say Valley is so music-driven that thats almost what we're about, art, film and photography. Every night I'm inspired to do different stuff and I'm up drawing, writing, late at night I never sleep, four hours top! My friend in LA Luiz always text me randomly: "use your insomnia" and I guess that I really do. The best stuff I do think of or write down is from 1-4am. I'm driven and influenced buy a lot that I just find it really hard to shut my mind down. I guess that’s why Valley is working because we are always adding in fresh material or images or new styles, new collections etc. Keeping people interested...
Living or dead who would love to see or have seen in a pair of your shades?
Kurt Cobain for sure… He's my number 1…shit or Hendrix…
Your slowly starting to take over the world. All you have to do is look at the Valley Instagram account. Favorite spots to hit and fill us in on any mental stories from the road?
Last kinda big shoot we did overseas I took over Brad and Ryan from The Vines, Hendo and my mate Grippo and we linked up with a big posse and went out to Joshua Tree, hired this crazy house in the canyon that was like something out of a Tarantino movie, it was totally twisted. Wow, it was one of the most crazy experiences I've ever been in, we got some crazy imagery from it but I don't think we can do a trip like that any time soon…hahaha.
With summer just around the corner, what can we expect to see from Valley’s range this year?
I've added nine new styles in which I'm really proud of and even threw in a killer over-sized aviator with leather temple tips as an added metal option across a heavily acetate-driven collection. I'm really stoked with the new collection man but also in some of the favourites we've added extra colour ways and new detail. All the new collection has seven-tooth Japanese hinging aswell and we continue to use Zeiss optics.
You slowly started to expand the brand. You’re about to launch some incredible hats, bags and a few tees. Can you tell us a bit about all of this?
I have added in an overnight bag which is canvas, leather and brass fixings with some killer detail. We had been asked about hats and apparel from some retailers so I went and did some felt hats for summer that are really premium with the high-end bag really classic styling and timeless pieces to add to a quality eyewear collection. Which I think ties the whole Valley aesthetic in perfectly. Also I have done three new Valley tees, custom cuts, 100% soft organic cotton with minimal branding all Australian made.
Going forward do you see even more additions to the range? If so what would you love to add?
For the moment I’d say I'll just be focusing on my eyewear line and expanding that into the right areas making people unique high quality frames.
Lastly I always tend to ask our new friends what they think a Pilerat is, fire away MC what is one/it?
When I saw your guys thing I immediately thought of the boys from the Dune Rats… Haha I've had some wild times in Byron with those guys with the boys from The Vines. If a Pilerat is anything like a Dune Rat. Holy shit its a wild beast that can potentially take a big man down in one night!
For more info on Valley Eyewear or to purchase some sweet, sweet shades, head along to the WEBSITE.