You're Invited: Gogosha Pop-Up Event
By Freza Paro with photos by Tiffany Chan
Here at Garrett Leight we hold our opticians in high esteem. We’re deliberate with our partnerships, aiming to work with the best in the industry, those who support independent design and respect quality product. And there are few opticians in the city that check all the boxes as fully as Gogosha. The Los Angeles-based eyewear boutique, which runs two locations in Mid-City and the Eastside, has become a magnet for stylish, forward-thinking creatives, including the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Lady Gaga.
Its owner Julia Gogosha embodies the type of creative partner we look for in all of our opticians. Her attention to detail, commitment to independent designers, and insistence on products with integrity and a unique point of view is refreshing, especially in a retail culture of disposable fast fashion. Her dedication to the retail experience - from individualized, thoughtful service to hand-picked products - is apparent as soon as you walk into either of her Gogosha spaces. Though her Eastside space has lived on Sunset Boulevard in Silverlake for the past 9 years, Julia and her team are moving into a new, customized space in Echo Park this fall.
We dropped by the Gogosha’s temporary space on Sunset Boulevard (where GLCO is also hosting a pop-up!) to chat with Julia about forming strong partnerships with designers, the importance of supporting your community, and Gogosha’s upcoming move to Echo Park.
Who is the Gogosha customer? Do you notice any similar attributes between the sorts of people that come through?
They’re definitely people who are discerning and open. They want to be surprised. They’re traveled and educated, creative and inspired. Nothing else about them is similar - we really range from about 25 to 75, so the age range is really broad. The demographic as far as where people live is pretty broad as well, people come visit us from all over.
Between your two locations on the east and west sides, do you notice a difference in the types of styles people tend to go for?
Sometimes. [On the east side] there’s definitely more of an early adopter. Where I find in Mid City, it’s a little more uniformed. But the people who find us definitely want to break that. But [on the east side] they’re a little more open to doing that first.
You’re moving to Echo Park. What prompted that move, and can you tell us about the new space?
We were in Silverlake for 9 years in the same location, and we’re moving to Echo Park for several reasons. One of them was we wanted to find a place that really felt like home for the next 10 or 15 years. The specific building that we’re in wasn’t evolving the same way that we were. We found developers that really understood, where we really agreed what community meant, so we decided to go into this particular building in Echo Park. Everything about the space we’re doing specifically to be conducive to the experience. Which means we’re designing it in a way so everything that we’re making is specific to elevate the experience or to help it or to encourage the experience itself. It’s really, really exciting.
What do you look for when you’re sourcing designers for Gogosha?
There are so many pretty pieces. But as far as collections go, there are three main filters that it really has to pass through before I even consider it. We need to align in three ways. We need to align with integrity of materials and production and design, where something has a point of view. We also need to align in distribution, where we understand and see a similar customer and a similar way of communicating that. We have to align in having the same integrity of service. In order for me to be able to service something, so do the people that I work with because I’m responsible to the final customer. Therefore I have to make sure we’re really partners with the brands that we work with in order to fulfill exactly what we’re supposed to be doing.
Are there designers that you find yourself coming back to over the almost-10 years since Gogosha opened?
Definitely. We’ve had Thierry since his first collection, we’ve carried Anna Valentine since the day we opened as well as Theo. Mykita as well. Those are the ones we’ve had from the very beginning. They all have their own distinctive point of view. We’re a little older than Garrett collection. When Garrett came around, we wanted to see it for a full year to see how it differed from things that have been done before. Once we saw his attention to detail, his ability to be at a price point that was still an entry-level price point, and seeing that you can make beautiful things in China. It’s not where it’s made, it’s how it’s made.
How do you feel your taste in eyewear has changed since first opening Gogosha?
Now my eye for detail is even more particular. In the last 10 years there was easily hundreds of eyewear collections that popped up. We really try to carry people that will sustain and if we wanted to carry them for the next 10 years, we could. We really look for the backbone of the company itself, as well as what they produce. Is it always evolving or is it always the same? More and more people, like Jacques Marie Mage and Max Pittion, are making custom components for their frames. When you’re making custom components for your own pieces, you’re able to have a lot more freedom in what you make and it doesn’t look like anyone else’s.
How has the city and your neighborhood changed since you first came to L.A.?
Completely. You don’t need to leave the neighborhood any longer to find or do anything that you really want. Before you’d have to travel to many different places in order to fulfill any one need. Any of your needs throughout the day, you can stay in the neighborhood and just be able to do that. You can purchase locally pretty much anything you want. I really try to practice what I preach, not preach it because I practice it. I really want to be a part of my community and so I try to work with people in the community, I buy from people in the community, I collaborate with people in my community. This is where we live and these are the people we interact with every day. And you can do that. There’s so much talent here, it’s insane.
What is your process for fitting a person to a frame? When somebody comes in who has never been to a specialty eyewear store before, how do you walk them through that process?
It’s a very human experience. First it’s really just introductions and getting to know one another. First it’s a surface basis. Have they ever been here before? Have they had this experience before? We try to speak to experiences that we’ve had in the past as customers, as well, or what we’ve experienced other people to have. When you’re looking at at thousand frames and you’re trying to figure out what’s supposed to be for you, it’s intimidating and overwhelming and it’s not something you know. You can be the most genius art director or creative this-or-that, but this just isn’t your language or your world. And that’s okay to not know this.
What we do is we narrow everything down and we, as I call it, give you a tray of everything that likes you. Then you get to decide what you like or want to reject, rather than you liking something and it rejecting you when you try it on. We’re going to give you something that already likes you and we work backwards that way. That way everything you’re trying on already works for one reason or another, the composition of your features, it works for fit… Instead of us determining an aesthetic, either the wearer or us saying ‘you should wear this’ - I don’t know you yet! I don’t know what you’re gonna like or not like or respond to. So instead I’m going to give you everything that works and then from there you actually get to explore and be surprised and try some stuff on that you never would have picked out for yourself. Because if you’re always doing that, you’re going to pick out what you’ve always done. People are like, ‘I know what I like’ but it’s more, ‘you like what you know’. Those are two different things.
Do you see any common misconceptions or strongly-held beliefs of customers that come in? What are they?
There’s many and I can highlight a couple of them. What they all have in common is that we allow our past to determine our present and future decisions. If you do that, you don’t learn anything. We all share similar references, especially now with how we all communicate. A round means the same thing to people - it’s either German or it’s Harry Potter. But that’s such a narrow understanding of a shape and how it works on certain features. Anything that has a little lift is definitely feminine. But feminine isn’t a pejorative; it’s okay to be feminine. If it works for your features, then it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Feminine or masculine shouldn’t come into it, because those are all confines. Those are all taught things, it has nothing to do with reality.
Visit the Gogosha pop-up at 3325 Sunset Boulevard this summer.