By Mike Cromwell
Toaster Shades, an independent sunglasses company out of Salt Lake City, Utah reflects the constantly changing shape of fashion and digital media. It was built on the foundation of a strong do-it-yourself spirit.
The company’s founder, Tristan Noone is a Fitchburg State grad. He learned the technical skills to bring his custom made shades to the public in the classroom here, and gained a love for its street oriented style in the city itself. He studied graphic design and interactive media at the college, where he says he learned “a way to get my graphics on something tangible that anyone could see anywhere…just making things more user-friendly.”
As he spent more time in Fitchburg, Noone became interested in street art.
“I kind of got into that…graffiti style, the free flowing letters,” he says. “You can extract a new ego under a different name, and I always thought that was kind of cool. “It helps you express your individuality; I was really attracted to that.”
Upon moving to the Salt Lake City area after graduating, Noone found that the city lacked that urban style that was more prevalent in Fitchburg.
“It’s not like a big metropolitan city,” he says, “people don’t really consider coming out here.” He started thinking of ways that he could bring a street oriented flair to SLC, and found it in sunglasses.
“I saw some sunglasses with cool lenses and thought, ‘maybe if I work on the frames, that would be pretty cool,’” he explains, “I had to see if I could get paint on there, and whether it would be successful or not, but I eventually got the formula down.”
After some creative help from Townsend artist, Mike Page, he then came up with “the name and whole identity of the company” and Toaster Shades was born.
Every pair of shades is completely customized and hand painted from scratch. The frames show amazing detail and the prices are fair for the amount of work that goes into each style.
Noone describes the project as “a company that’s still being shaped and formed,” but that doesn’t mean that the underground line isn’t taking off. A wide range of talented extreme athletes, from snowboarders and skateboarders, to mountain bikers and wake boarders have picked up the brand as a sponsor. The highly stylized shades have even been seen on the face of 311’s lead guitar player, Tim Mahoney.
Starting an independent custom sunglasses company fresh out of college is an unconventional move, and could have been riskier if the brand proved less successful, but Noone never considered settling for a traditional job.
“When you do that, you’re basically jumping onto someone’s vision,” he says, “I’m trying to create my own vision.”
Pick up a pair of Toasters at The Toaster Shades Webstore.