Westward Leaning Debuts Beaded Shade Styles — Check Out Those Stems!
Beyond being committed to fashion, San Francisco-based sunglasses company Westward Leaning has pledged to champion social justice, drawing inspiration from those who have mobilized to demand social and political equality, those who have fought tirelessly to ensure that they were no longer marginalized due to their gender, race, sexual preference, faith, ethnicity, language, or political views. Last Fall, for instance, it unveiled the Color Revolutions Collection, which consists of several styles with clear frames and neon-coated lenses, each named after one of the non-violent movements or “Color Revolutions” that have aimed to overthrow tyrannous and totalitarian regimes. For Spring 2013, Westward Leaning has introduced two new styles — both featuring beaded stems —that promote social justice and tolerance.
First, there’s the Westward Leaning 575 Castro Sunglasses ($295 at WestwardLeaning.com), shown third and fourth from top, which are named as an homage to Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician elected to public office. Charming, ambitious, and relentless in his quest to provide equal rights for California’s gay population, Milk started out as the owner of a camera shop on 575 Castro Street in San Francisco, one of the first thriving gay neighborhoods in the city. In addition to naming the shades after the address of Harvey’s camera shop, these sunglasses feature hand-sewn beads covering their stems. The left side features a gradient design that incorporates shades of cobalt blue, turquoise, light aqua, green, and lime, while the right side features a gradient spectrum incorporating shades of blood red, crimson, vermilion, orange, sunshine yellow, and kiwi green. Because the gradient bead designs practically resemble stripes and incorporate so many colors, the design also nods to the rainbow motif of the Gay Pride flag. Best of all, for every pair of sunglasses sold, Westward Leaning will donate $10 to gay rights organizations that work with schools to ensure that they have an atmosphere of tolerance and solidarity, where all kids are nurtured — regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity — and where bullying is obliterated completely.
The second pair of beaded shades, meanwhile, is the Westward Leaning Love Thy Neighbor Sunglasses ($295 at WestwardLeaning.com), shown fifth and sixth from top. The “love thy neighbor” expression in this model’s name refers to the United States’ southern neighbor: Mexico. Given that we live in a time when anti-immigration rhetoric has become particularly vitriolic and the Latino community is fighting to ensure that citizenship is granted to all the undocumented workers who contribute to our society and who strengthen the labor force and boost our economy, these sunglasses are an excellent way to remind the public of the beauty of Mexican culture. This particular model, then, features chaquira beads like those used by Huichol artisans to create masks, votive bowls, animal figures, belts, sashes, gourds, wall mosaics, and more. Black and white beads were hand sewn into the frame, with vertical stripes on the left-hand stem and a chevron pattern on the right-hand stem. Again here, the sale of these sunglasses has a charitable component. This time around, for each pair of sunglasses sold, Westward Leaning will donate $10 to Love Thy Neighbor Mexico, a non-profit organization that teaches young Americans about how the drug trade within the United States only furthers violence and instability in Mexico.
From a style standpoint, meanwhile, both the Castro and Love Thy Neighbor sunglasses nod to the Southwestern and tribal motifs that are so popular this season.