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Barton Perreira: A Cool Frame of Mind

Barton Perreira, a four-month-old Los Angeles-based eyewear firm, is stepping up as an independent player in a market full of licensed-out sunglasses brands.

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Barton Perreira, a four-month-old Los Angeles-based eyewear firm, is stepping up as an independent player in a market full of licensed-out sunglasses brands.

Two Oliver Peoples veterans — Bill Barton, former president, and Patty Perreira, who was vice president of design — launched the firm after Peoples was acquired by Oakley in February 2006.

"I thought I'd stay for a year and see how I liked being in the corporate world," said Perreira, president of Barton Perreira, who has also designed eyewear collections for Prada and Jil Sander. "I stayed for six months, but it wasn't my thing. The philosophy we were born and bred with changed and I needed to have more independence and freedom in design."

The pair took some time off, but barely a year went by before Barton proposed they get back in business. They launched the high-end Barton Perreira brand in December, quickly getting attention after being worn by celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Orlando Bloom and Jessica Biel.

"In an industry that's controlled by one or two really big companies, we wanted to have really special product," said Barton, chief executive officer. "We couldn't come out and be Oliver Peoples again; we had to have our own ideas. We had to be our own brand with product that people would look at and say, 'That's really fresh.' We can't reinvent the wheel, but we can turn it a bit."

Barton Perreira did almost $2 million in retail sales within its first two months, keeping exclusive distribution at stores such as Jeffrey in Atlanta and New York, Bergdorf Goodman and Santa Monica's Fred Segal Eyes, which in December sold 60 pieces in three weeks. Bergdorf Goodman also sold 19 pairs in its first 10 days.

Barton would like the firm to do another $2 million before the year is out.

"The response from the Bergdorf Goodman clientele has been quite positive since the introduction," said Ed Burstell, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of jewelry and accessories at the specialty store. "They are responding to the modern design that has both an urban edge and a refined sensibility. The line has quite a 'cool' factor."
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