Singer/songwriter, designer, The Voice judge and mom of three Gwen Stefani cried when her then-kindergartener Zuma needed to wear glasses. After all, it’s not easy when your child needs any type of medical device. They were always on the hunt for cool eyewear and often had to settle. The self-made fashion icon, who was already working with Tura, Inc., decided the timing couldn’t be better for shrinking her adult collection down to mini-me sizes.
This month marks the launch of gx by Gwen Stefani junior’s, a playful, urban and colorful line of eight ophthalmics with four additional ones rolling out in June. And, Zuma, who is now in second grade, helped inspire the six emoji models that have magnets for the temples so kids can have even more fun with their eyewear. Three girl and three boy frames each come with a set of six interchangeable emojis.
VCPN secured an exclusive interview with the eyeglass-loving performer-to talk about her love of designing for children and passion for creating hits, this time, in optical.
MICHELE SILVER: How would you describe the evolution of your eyewear design experience with Tura?
GWEN STEFANI: I wanted to do eyewear [and sunglasses]back in the day when I didn’t have children. Then over the years I had the opportunity to do this line of Harajuku Lovers children’s clothing and it was incredible. I never had the right partner to do the [eyewear]design, and I was always frustrated about it. So when it came about that I teamed up with Tura, the timing was weirdly right, because I had started wearing optical myself.
I started designing with them, thinking this was just another plate spinning in the air. I was passionate about it because I finally got to do glasses, and it just was such an incredible success right off the bat. Right away we had chemistry and now we’re into the third collection and it has gotten to a whole other level. And I said to them, ‘Why can’t I do a children’s line? Why can’t I do junior’s?’
I wanted to do a collection that had fun, electric colors that kids would gravitate towards, but I also wanted to do some that were like grownup glasses, just shrunken down. I love designing for children – it’s just so cute and fun and rewarding. The junior’s eyewear works for children and they work for smaller, adult faces. If you look at the designs, they’re funky enough so they could be for both.
And I love having a hit. We’ve won all these awards and I’ve really hit it off big with the [Tura] designers. They just get me and trust me. I’ve designed many different categories, but my favorite is when you’re reaching so many people.
SILVER: Is there a style that’s a standout for you?
STEFANI: Well, I’ll be honest. It makes me mad when I look through and see that there’s only this [smaller number of]styles because I have so many more ideas. But 901 red is my favorite one on Zuma. I like the ones that really stand out, like ‘Whoa! Where did you get those?’
SILVER: How much does your style and role as a celebrity play into the success of the eyewear?
STEFANI: I like a larger pair of glasses. I like that kind of nerdy, smart girl/secretary look, but I know a lot of people don’t. And people have different-shaped faces and heads, so [my style wouldn’t work for them]. I think that’s why we’ve been successful, because [the eyewear]is not being sold because of the celebrity part of it. It’s people going into their optical, seeing a pair of glasses, trying them on and saying, ‘These work for me.’
SILVER: What do you think is important about teaching children about the importance of wearing their glasses and how has Zuma adjusted to wearing his?
STEFANI: That’s going to be a personal mom thing. But for me, I haven’t had that problem since my son needs them, so he wears them. I never have to say, ‘wear your glasses.’ He’s taken the responsibility on his own. Now that I have to wear glasses to read, I’m like, wow, poor little guy!
SILVER: What message would you like to share with young girls in terms of self-esteem and fashion, particularly for young girls who have to wear glasses?
STEFANI: I don’t really like giving advice to girls. I just like to look back at what I went through and what I did. When I think about my fashion journey, it was a way to express myself. It was a creative thing that probably came from my mom. She made a lot of my clothes when I was little and her mom made her clothes.
I learned that the more that I didn’t pay attention to trying to fit in and paid more attention to what made me happy, fashion-wise, the more attention I got. I can remember the day when I was sitting on the [tour]bus, I saw girls coming to line up for the show that looked like me – they were wearing my style in their own way. It was such a powerful thing because I struggled like everybody else with my identity and my body. I just chose to be creative and wear baggy pants because that’s what looked good, and it was what I could afford.
[Style] is just about being you, being creative, being grateful for what you’re given and working with what you’ve got. And that’s the same with glasses. I don’t necessarily want to wear glasses at this point. But because I have to, I’m going to wear really cool glasses.
We just saw this amazing spiritual movie with the boys the other night, a true story about this boy who was a football player. He was the underdog and he made it through. He had to wear glasses and that became his signature thing. So you never know when something that you think is a bad thing ends up being something that’s a blessing.