Creative Director, Pared Eyewear
Samantha Stevenson is no stranger to sun and design. After studying and working in the fashion industry for years, she went on to launch PARED EYEWEAR in 2012 with her partner Edward Baker. The cool-girl brand takes the concept of sunny days and endless summers to the next level — finding inspiration in places and eras evocative as such, and creating playful frames made with the highest quality of materials that don't compromise comfort. The founder and creative director of pared now splits her time between Bali, Sydney and the US... (Jealous much?!)
In an exclusive interview, Sam gives us the scoop on where she found inspiration for Resort 2016 (hint, hint: the Flamingo is a native fauna), introduces us to brands we never heard of and absolutely need ASAP, and soo much more...
VacationStyle: How did you get into designing sunglasses?
Samantha Stevenson: I have always been interested in design and art – especially in accessories and knew I would end up designing. I was working for the Australian denim brand Ksubi for many years in the eyewear department. I had such a great experience working for that brand but after 5 years behind the scenes I decided to start my own label as it felt like the natural step.
VS: Why 'pared'?
SS: Pared is a bit of a play on words – firstly a pair of something. To pare into something is to cut into it, refine it or shave back. All of our branding and techniques are based on this – there are notches cut out of the temple for a subtle branding. Each frame has an individual cut out detail. We try to keep this as our mark of individuality.
VS: Where do you find inspiration for your collections?
SS: I am a bit of a sponge and soak up inspiration from everywhere. Travel plays a huge part in this as do reference books, art galleries and people watching.
One of my favourite lines is from Diane Vreeland, The Eye Has to Travel... As little or far as you can go each day, you need to see new things, try new things and inspiration may come in the most unexpected form.
VS: What’s the inspiration behind the latest collection?
SS: Our next collection (Resort 17) is inspired by 80s and the Carribean. Think lots of brights colours, a vacation to Bermuda, flamingos and a colourful cocktail with a cherry on top.
VS: How do you name your designs? What comes first: the name or the frames?
SS: As each collection is based around a location and an era, the names are inspired by pairs of that era... Once I have designed the frame then I name it after a pair that matches back to the collection.
All of our frames have a name of a pair – i.e., Sugar & Spice, Bigger & Better, Bread & Butter. It is a unique way to label them and it goes back to our brand name and a bit of a play on words.
VS: Who’s the pared girl?
SS: The pared customer is someone who sees the world with a different view. They are detail orientated and appreciate good design. I see them wearing what suits them and thinking outside the box a little perhaps with a slight vintage twist. They also aren’t restricted by a certain look or brand and like to have fun – that is what fashion should be - free and fun.
VS: If there’s one person you could dream of wearing your sunglasses, who would it be and why?
SS: I am always the most humbled when I see someone in the street wearing pared that I don’t know. That to me is very exciting because it means that they chose to buy our brand over all the others. That makes me happy!
VS: You moved from Sydney to Bali… Can you tell us a little bit about this? What are some of your hidden gems in both Sydney and Bali?
SS: My husband and business partner and I split our time between Bali, Australia and the US at the moment. Bali is a lifestyle choice and we can relax while we are there and live a simpler existence, which is so grounding. We love the contrast of island and city life so we are very lucky.
Favourites in Sydney: Bondi Beach Icebergs swim, Redleaf Rose Bay for a picnic, Café Sydney for the view and a sunset drink, CHISWICK at the Art Gallery of NSW for lunch, Messina for ice cream, For Artists Only in Rose Bay for shopping
Favourites in Bali: Lacalita – Mexican works perfectly in the Bali heat, Peloton for the best vegan food! Go for the coconut hot chocolate Peloton Supershop, Souq has the most delicious food and lovely homewares, Kiosk Collective for shopping and the full range of pared, and Bambu – my must restaurant – has all regions of Indonesian food in the loveliest setting
VS: You’re favorite frame you’ve designed so far?
SS: I still love the PUSS & BOOTS – it was the first frame that I designed for pared and we still make it. We are updating it slightly for resort. It is a 50s style cat eye with our signature deco corner detail.
VS: Your most memorable vacation?
SS: I lived in Israel when I was a small child for 6 months and then traveled around Europe and the Middle East for another 6 months on a big road trip with my little sister and parents. I have snippets of memories from this, climbing on the pyramids, walking in Damascus and snow fights in Spain on the side of the road. I don’t remember everything vividly as I was young, but I know that this early travel instilled a gyspy spirit inside of me and is the reason that I crave new adventures so much.
VS: If you could waive you magic wand and travel anywhere where would that be?
SS: Right now I am craving a trip to Italy or Greece (however my list of places to visit is never ending). I would be poolside in Taormina or in Santorini right now if I had my way. Doing nothing for a week is such a luxury!
VS: Favorite hotel or hotel brand?
SS: I tend to like boutique smaller hotels with character and interesting interiors. I love the Hôtel Thoumieux in Paris, the Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills, the Parker Palm Springs and on my bucket list is Hotel Il Pellicano in Italy.
VS: You're go-to brands on vacation?
SS: I am an accessories girl – eyewear obviously as well as hats, lots of jewellery and a great swimsuit. Artesano for hats; F E L L A and Ward Whillas for swimwear; Reliquia Jewellery and AU REVOIR LES FILLES for jewellery; KIOSK THE LABEL, lemlem, Antik Batik and Missoni for resort wear.
VS: Beauty essentials you cannot travel without?
Skincare I love any serums and oils as they seem to work best on my skin. My go to brands are Ella Bache sunscreen, Ultraceuticals serum, Sunday Riley face oil, Diptyque hair and body oil and Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray.
VS: What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
SS: Believe in yourself and be true to yourself.
VS: What’s next for pared?
SS: Lots of new frames, techniques and detailing to keep pushing our brand in great directions, expanding our optical collection and perhaps some other accessories in the pipeline too!
One-piece or two? I love a one piece that doubles as a bodysuit
Kaftan or sarong? Sarong
Hair-up or down? Down and full of salt from an ocean swim
Makeup or no makeup? I prefer no makeup but I cant go past a red lip
Flats or heels? I love heels but I tend to be drawn to flats more and more….
Jewelry or no jewelry? Always jewellery and lots of it
Underpack or overpack? Overpack
Detox or retox? Those two go hand in hand – everyone needs some balance.
Stick with what you know or try something new? Try something new – step outside of your comfort zone and wonderful things can happen – you never know what is around the corner.
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