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Made in the Shades

Shane Baum’s The lensman of the Leisure Society. 

Founder of Leisure Society Shane Baum

He got his first pair of shades when he was 10—tinted prescription aviators. (“I still chuckle at the class picture,” quips the Iowa native.) As a teen, he saved all summer to buy a pair of Vaurnets—steel-blue cat-eyes with mirrored lenses. Today, Shane Baum’s a leader in luxury eyewear. He’s the founder of O.C.-based Leisure Society (, and he’s got big-name brands clamoring to collaborate with him—Rebecca Minkoff and Toms, to name two. Here’s a peek at what we’ll see this spring.

A lot of eyewear will be coming from you in the months ahead. Do you have a signature style that runs across the brands you’ve been working with?
Even when I was working with Louis Vuitton, I’ve always been in a collaborative stance, taking the brand attributes and styling, and adding my own personal signature. Leisure Society best represents my personal style, which is refined, finely detailed and timeless.

Let’s talk spring trends. What can we expect?
More of an emphasis on metal frames and plastic-metal combinations, butterfly shapes and cat-eyes, bright bold colors and nice layering, and filigree details on the metal.

Any favorites?
Rebecca Minkoff x Shane Baum’s Bond, and Leisure Society’s La Maddelena for women and Sandön for men.

You’ve designed collections for lines all over the world. How do O.C.’s style sensibilities differ?
The Europeans are more daring and confident—Australians, as well. Southern Californians have a laid-back, quintessential sense of style that evolves slowly over time. In many ways, we’re the center of the sunglass universe, given our lovely weather and association with Hollywood.

Do you have a favorite time and place for creativity?
I like late afternoon into evening, and given the fact that we now have more than 50 talented employees all over the planet, I like to get away on design retreats to find focus and clarity. Palm Springs is my favorite. The architecture is inspiring, and the soft weather and early sunsets over the mountains are an ideal setting.

When you go on vacation, how many pairs of sunglasses do you pack?
One, and oftentimes I forget them—it’s terrible. It must be a ‘don’t bring your work with you’ mental block.

For your leisure travel, do you prefer air, sea or land?
There’s nothing that beats flying private for convenience, but for romance, give me a beautifully appointed coach and slow-moving train through the Austrian Alps around sunset.

Do you like amber, gray or black lenses?
I like brown or green lenses. The world looks better through green lenses.

Mirrored or regular?
Mirrored if you want to be of the moment; regular if you’re more classically minded.