Alex’s partnership with Specsavers is hardly new. Indeed, after such a long reign with one of the country’s leading optical specialists, it’s hard to imagine the brand without the couturier’s design touch. So it’s no surprise that Alex enjoyed finding the balance between working on fashion and eyewear.
“It’s a balance between what real people want, giving them a bit of fashion and not making it too exclusive for that,” Alex explained of her eponymous eyewear.
As for how he balances his designer talents between clothing and eyewear, his answer is simple.
“The principles are the same. I remember one of the first things I noticed when we started talking with Specsavers. I looked at the different samples and opened them up and they squealed. wasn’t nice, while there were other samples we looked at in stores that felt good.”
Much like engaging with his tactile senses when researching fabrications for his fashion brand, he explains that all of its products must “feel a certain way”.
“That’s what makes it feel quality and expensive and it’s the same with glasses. Very similar process in choosing fabrics. If they’re too light and they’re acetate , that’s not good. But if they’re titanium and they’re light, then that’s great. It’s still the same design process, just [a little] different.”
“Your main guideline is going to be the same, you know, look good, fit great, look expensive and it comes down to touch.”
All of us who are visually impaired or just love sun protection (or both), know the difficulty of finding a pair of glasses that fit your face perfectly. Not only does Alex relate to wrestling — and awkward in-store tryouts — but he’s let us check out his trick to finding your perfect pair.
“Usually the lighting isn’t great [in store]. When you look in the mirror with the glasses, you are not looking at the glasses. You look at your skin and your hair, you feel tired, you’re not really doing your job.”
“I know there are rules, if you have a square face you should wear this. Try it, don’t do it with a whole bunch of people, it’s too confrontational. They usually tell you what you want. ‘they like , not what looks good on you.Trust someone at the store because they’re really good at it.
“The best thing is to take a selfie. Go outside the store, where the light is nice, take a selfie with the pairs you like, then leave. Go for a coffee and look at them.”
“It eliminates the confrontation about looking at yourself in the mirror and looking at the lines on your face, or whatever else is going on. You can sit there and say, ‘Oh, that frame looks good on me. ‘. It gives you objectivity about what it is. It’s such a simple thing, we’re used to taking selfies. But for that, take a look outside of that environment. and say ‘Yeah, I love it’ and go back. Works every time.”
Courtesy of Specsavers.
Spending a decade engaging in anything is no small feat. For Alex, this means many glasses, so naturally, we wanted to know which pair of his wallet he always had his eye on (pun completely intentional).
“I love animal prints. It’s kind of like a little black dress to me, it’s a classic. It was part of my DNA for Specsavers,” he says.
“We’ve done things like a clear, transparent acetate in hot rose gold with rose gold detailing. People love it when I do a little sparkle,” says Alex, detailing the “little diamonds” that are strategically placed like little hidden details to “make the frame special”.
“There’s a pair, they’re reading glasses and they have a black frame. And there’s a zebra pattern but it’s inside the frame, you know it’s there, you see it when you take the glasses off. It’s like a black evening dress but with a fuchsia lining.”
“I think it’s a really nice detail. I’m a maximalist and I’m always on top. […] I feel like that’s my design philosophy.”
But aesthetics isn’t all that makes its frames as special as they are, it’s their diversity-backed design that sees them appealing to the masses.
“It’s going to suit a lot of people, a lot of colorings like blondes, redheads, brunettes, fair skin, dark skin, you know.”
He continues: “It’s not just something so distinctive that only a few people can wear. It’s a huge company and it serves a lot of women and a lot of men, so you have to find things that fit well on a lot of different people.”
“It’s like your confidence level, and just doing things that can be carried by a lot of different people in different ways.”
“We have girls who buy the Alex Perry frames for men, and the sunglasses [they will] put reading lenses in it. I do it all the time, my reading glasses are the Aviators I made. So many girls are buying the boys’ frames, and so many boys are buying the girls’ frames, it’s becoming a really good, inclusive place.”
Over Alex’s impressive 30-year career, he’s seen an array of famous faces sport his work. In fact, it all started with Australian actress Noni Hazlehurst.
“She was the first person I dressed. When I had my first store in [the Sydney suburb of] She and Kensington were the first celebrity I met. She was going to the Logies, I remember that I had highlighted her”, recalls Alex.
“I love it for a minute. I’m usually sitting on the couch in my pajamas, watching TV, and then someone posts something and it’s like, you know, Hailey Bieber. I’m just laughing because it is so glamorous like they’re somewhere and I’m literally in my pajamas watching Netflix I feel like a superstar for about five minutes and then I’m done and I’m like ‘Okay, who’s the next ?’ [laughs].”
“I watched this movie the other day, it’s called The 355, and Jessica Chastain and Fan Bingbing, and there’s this big scene where she comes out and she’s wearing one of my dresses. And I was literally on the couch in my pajamas.”
“She looked amazing and me on the inside – I don’t talk about that – but when I’m sitting on the couch I’m like, ‘That’s pretty awesome’. I’m here and it’s happening.”
But while he’s proud of the crowd he’s worked with, his goal has always been to make women feel good.
“It has always been my main directive to do you feel good, especially when it counts. I’ve always tried to do that, to make women feel good, feel confident, not empowered, it’s such an overused word.”
He continues, “When you’re feeling good, your confidence levels go up, you’re a lot more engaging, your energy goes up and it attracts really good other energy from people.”
Naturally, many would attribute Alex’s success to his talent and personal determination. But for the designer, he admits his work ethic is what shaped his career, and it’s all thanks to his parents.
“My parents gave me an insane work ethic. Mom was born here to immigrant parents, my dad immigrated here. He literally had 20 pounds, a suitcase and he built a life, he found a wife he loved and he had the family.”
“Both my parents are my absolute heroes because they did everything for us and I saw how hard they worked. Like we needed a new fridge and mom and dad couldn’t afford it. So mum left and got a night job packing at Johnson and Johnson until there was enough money to buy the fridge.”
“I have this insane work ethic that has shaped everything. Just go out there and do it and that gives you longevity too.”
Looking back on his career, it’s hard to see if he ever took the wrong foot. However, Alex explained that not everyone supported her choices, but listening to her instincts made all the difference.
“I’ve never had a business plan. If something is presented to me, I’ll either have a good feeling or a bad feeling. That’s just how it works with me. People will give me an idea and like they’re telling me, I’m going to be like, ‘Yeah, no, that’s not for me’, or ‘Yeah. That’s fine’.”
“Everyone was like, ‘Oh my God, you can’t. [about Specsavers]. They are brutal, especially in Sydney. Like ‘You can’t make cheap glasses and you’re going to put your name on it?’. And it’s like, ‘No, no, I don’t think you’re right. I have a good feeling about it’.”
Ultimately, what most Australians (with a fashion bent) are eager to know is exactly or Alex sees his eponymous brand heading next. And luckily, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, he’s never been happier with the brand’s current situation.
“I’m going to look really selfish now, but that’s everywhere I want it to be. I’ve just visited every major luxury store in the world where I’ve always wanted to be. Validation came as than fashion brand from anywhere else in the world.”
“Going into Bergdorf Goodman was my bucket list of like ‘God, I just want to hang out there one day’. Neiman Marcus has been amazing, Selfridges, Net-A-Porter, we give a lot of those platforms. “
When it comes to the fashion industry, Alex is a seasoned professional. So, at a time when ‘girlbossing’ and initiating side hustles are all the rage, the designer believes those who are “jumping on the bandwagon” should rethink whether it’s the right career choice for them.
“I think the challenge is for a lot of people who don’t know what to do. They’re trying to do something else rather than, [staying] in your way. All these people all of a sudden, ‘I do like activewear’ […] You just want to jump on this bandwagon and do something that PE Nation does literally amazingly well, and you think, ‘Oh, let me go and do that too’.”
“I can do it too, [but] I don’t live and breathe those, I don’t know Pip’s philosophy [Edwards] a, which is awesome. It’s his thing, you know?”
He continues, “Same goes for people trying to jump into my categories, but I’m 30 on it, it’s what I love and what I do really well. Stay in your lane, work hard, whatever your core values are, stick to those.”
“If you’re okay, you’ll be okay, you’ll be okay.”
The Alex Perry Limited Edition collection is available at Specsavers online or in stores nationwide now, with prices starting at $199 for two single-vision pairs.