Shane Baum, the founder of Leisure Society and former small-town Iowa wrestling champion, began his career as an eyewear designer for Mossimo. Later he designed sunglasses for Paul Frank, Louis Vuitton, and Marc Jacobs. In 2011, the Newport Beach resident launched Leisure Society, a luxury eyewear line designed in Costa Mesa.
Tell us a bit about your line.
The glasses are made in Japan, using the best-of-the-best lenses, and are trimmed in 12-, 14-, and 18-karat gold. They’re available worldwide, including at A’maree’s in Newport Beach.
Was A’maree’s the first O.C. shop to stock your specs?
Yes. They’ve been a great partner for us. It’s one of the most beautiful retailers in the world, and the owners are really cool. The
y’re just sweet and soulful people, and very nonchalant about a lot of things. They sent me a text two years ago in Paris that said, “We’re having a few people to dinner tonight if you want to come over.” I went over there and it was, “Hey, nice to meet you, Michael Kors; nice to meet you, Olsen twins; hey, Marc Jacobs.” They didn’t say, “We’re having some fancy people over,” just people.
You went from a town of 2,500 to dinner in Paris with the Olsen twins?
Yes, a town with one stoplight, one grocery store, and two bars. Fast forward to getting the job with Louis Vuitton: I remember thinking, “I can’t sweat in this interview” and then I started thinking, “Dude, somebody’s gonna get this job, why not you?”
Does that winning attitude come from being an athlete?
One hundred percent, but I also think it’s part of anyone’s internal struggle to go from good to great and understanding that sometimes there’s not that much difference between the two.
So after Marc Jacobs you created Leisure Society?
Yes. When it came to putting my name on my own line, I wanted the best of the best. And during that process I got really obsessed with
the thought of heirloom design and the sustainability of it.
We wanted glasses that are durable and, of course, we wanted to use the latest technology. But we also wanted them to be classically inspired, so someone’s kids would be fighting over them in 40 years.
What’s your design process?
I take many pictures of beautiful and interesting objects on my travels. This creates a mood board, and when combined with various shapes and textures, it becomes a new direction. When designing, I always look back and ask, “Does this look and feel like a Leisure Society frame? Does it look luxurious without feeling ostentatious? Is it instantly recognizable from across the room without screaming ‘Look at me!’? These are the things I contemplate late at night.
What did the first pair look like?
Oh gosh, I used stay at the office late and work with the graphic design staff at Mossimo. My first designs were absolutely terrible. The most important trait a designer can have is humility—“Is this great or am I thinking it’s great because I created it?” Good design is by majority vote and when done well, universally applauded.
What inspires you?
Our partnership with Toms. We’ve supported them in helping cure blindness with surgery and providing lenses for more than 600,000 people.
What’s your dream?
To design a collection for Hermés.