Oliver Peoples started in 1986 when opticians Larry and Dennis Leight fulfilled their dream and opened their first optical boutique on legendary Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, California. Earlier that year, they purchased an estate collection of vintage American-made eyewear. The assortment included thousands of beautifully filigreed rimless and metal frames, including clip-on metal sunglasses produced by iconic American companies, such as Bausch & Lomb and American Optical. All the frames were unworn, in mint condition and in their original packaging. It was a goldmine for the Leight’s, given their love for 1940s-1960s eyewear.
The brothers purchased the entire lot, which included a receipt signed with the name “Oliver Peoples,” who they reasoned was the original owner or distributor. When they decided to sell the estate collection in their retail store, it only seemed fitting they use the name in his honor.
It was then that their vision was realized: to design a collection of eyewear, implement innovative marketing strategies, and create a unique retail experience in their own gallery-like setting.
In 1987, the Oliver Peoples collection (inspired by the vintage frames purchased in the estate sale) was introduced as wholesale. It was quite a departure from the futuristic styles and geometric shapes dominant in the late 80’s. Because runway fashion was moving in a vintage-inspired direction, the debut of the retro collection was fortuitously timed, as the direction of eyewear changed globally.