At merely 26 years old, designer Stevie Boi has been blessed with the striking looks of a pop icon as well as trailblazing instincts strong enough to rival some of fashion’s most prominent patriarchs. Georgia-native Boi has emerged from obscurity to become one of the industry’s most innovative contributors. His most notable work-to-date is SB Shades, his luxury-meets-fantasy eyewear line.
Who can forget the tantalizing metallic tassel-lined sunnies worn by Queen Bey in the stellar opening of the Diva video? Or the innumerable pairs of spectacular specs worn by Lady GaGa as signature accents of her futuristic style? Boi reinvented the 1960s/ 70s concept of statement sunglasses back in 2007 when what began as a hobby, became his full-time grind.
We spoke intimately with the future supernova and learned firsthand how he got started as well as what he’s working on next.
The Lady Loves Couture: How did you get started in the business of fashion design, and why shades? Was this intentional or a discovery?
Stevie Boi: It was definitely a discovery! I’ve always been a creative person, and I have always been designing/making things for myself, but I did not set out to be a luxury eyewear designer. I was living in Baltimore as an artist and was hitting the club scene. I was making these really cool shades for myself. People started asking me about them and were willing to pay for them. This was around the time My Space was hot! Remember My Space? Before I knew it people were hitting me up on My Space wanting to buy sunglasses, t-shirts, and other stuff I would make.
TLLC: What about your long list of celebrity clients? Tell us who has worn your stuff and how that began.
SB: Initially in these same clubs, major artists would come and hang after their shows and they were also asking me about my sunglasses. In 2013, my shades were featured on the cover of Vogue and, whew!, it took off from there. Rihanna, Madonna, Kanye West, Amber Rose and Nikki Minaj, have all worn my shades. People have shown me a lot of love.
TLLC: What did it feel like when you were first featured in Vogue?
SB: It was incredible! My god, it IS Vogue. I’ve been really blessed to have such a great relationship with Vogue. The editors have really been supportive of my work. When I last counted, my work has been visible in Vogue at least 35 times or more. They’re amazing and the press has been really phenomenal.
TLLC: Can you let us into your process of designing shades? Where do you draw inspiration?
SB: I’m inspired by a lot of things…life, people, things can inspire me. Sometimes though, I am most inspired by getting into a very quiet place and letting my own imagination go to work. A lot of times, that is my process: To spend time by myself, either in quiet or with music that inspires me, and just create a rough drawing or a sample that way.
TLLC: What do you suggest one looks for in a pair of shades, in terms of what suits the shape of their face?
SB: There are no rules. Just be in the moment and wear what captures you. If they look good and make you feel good, those are the ones you should have!
TLLC: Are there any specific shapes to covet for spring/ summer 2016? Do you have a favorite?
SB: There are so many. I think the most important thing to remember is to find the look that translates who you are. I really don’t believe in trends. Style, to me, is about expression, and shades are a great way to express personality or uniqueness. So that’s the trend! Find something with some personality.
TLLC: What advice would you give an aspiring designer that you wish you had been given when you started your career?
SB: Stay humble and save your coins! Ha!! Seriously, it’s advice I still live by. Don’t think you can help everybody either, which goes back to saving those coins. In terms of staying humble, from a personal standpoint, definitely appreciate your support system. They are critical to maintaining some balance. In terms of business, you just never know: That person you help today because you’re hot and on top, might be the very person who later opens a door for you that you need opened. Staaaay humble! Oh, and grateful.
TLLC: You’ve tackled some pretty exciting projects and collaborations. What’s next for Stevie Boi?
SB: Well, I just honestly wanna see where God and my creative talents will take me. I’m exploring acting right now and costume designing. I’m really intrigued by, and drawn to, both of these new opportunities. As I mentioned, I’ve been designing clothes for quite some time so this progression feels right and natural. I have major personality, and I enjoy performing, so I’m willing to go as far as my creative gifts will take me.
*Designer Stevie Boi will open his first store in NYC on May 14th with Native Ken. For details, click here.