Although it’s been around since 1929 (when founder Sam Foster sold his first pair of sunglasses on the Atlantic City boardwalk for just ten cents), America’s oldest sunglasses brand, Foster Grant, really took off in the Golden Age of Hollywood when she first appeared. with the iconic “Who’s Behind These Hosting Grants?” The campaign debuted in 1965 and featured several Hollywood stars (like Mia Farrow and Peter Sellers), which later earned it a spot on AdAge’s “Top 100 Campaigns of the 20th Century”. But perhaps an even more impressive feat? Stylish glasses managed to catch the eye of the King of Rock n’ Roll himself, becoming one of Elvis Presley’s staple accessories in the 70s.
So it was only natural that Catherine Martin, the Oscar-winning filmmaker known for her historically accurate style, turned to the brand, which is now based in Smithfield, Rhode Island, while working on the new Elvis. biopic (in theaters now). During their collaboration, Foster Grant’s designers created twenty different styles to use for filming; many of which, carried by Hundog lead actor Austin Butler, feature prominently throughout the film’s second half. We spoke with Matthew Coon, Senior Vice President of Product Design and Development for Foster Grant’s parent company, FGX International, to learn more about the collaboration.
How did the collaboration for the film come about? Did Catherine Martin’s team intervene first?
Catherine Martin’s production team reached out to Foster Grant to discuss creating eyewear that would have the authenticity they needed for the Elvis film. The ‘King of Rock and Roll’ once wore Foster Grant sunglasses, so it was an honor to design styles for the film with such a strong nod to Foster Grant’s glorious past.
Are the glasses featured in the film exact replicas of the type worn by Elvis, or more of an homage?
Iconic styles were custom made and designed to be exact replicas at Catherine’s request in the authentic style worn by Elvis.
Tell us about the design/creation process of the sunglasses — how long did it take to complete the designs?
We started the process working with Catherine and her team in November 2019. A large collection of eyewear styles were sent to her in Australia, suitable for the different eras she requested for the film. In particular, she was interested in an exact match for the iconic TCB EP styles in gold and silver tones that represented the “Take Care of Business” theme featured in the film. We worked with the Elvis design team over a period of four to five months, including when production was halted due to the COVID outbreak.
Were some of the styles “easier” to design/recreate than others? If yes, why?
Yes. There were several very specific custom features required on a few of the designs. Classic EP and TCB badges featuring Elvis Presley were an integral part of the design process, which you can clearly see in the close-ups on screen.
Where are the glasses that were used in the movie now? (i.e. Austin got to keep them or are they back with Foster Grant?)
The Foster Grant eyewear produced for the film is with Catherine Martin and her design team. We sent several sets of iconic styles, so it’s possible that some of them were saved by the cast.
Will Foster Grant now create more vintage styles for people who might be inspired by what they see in the movie?
This could certainly have an influence in the future. There are classic styles featured in the movie that we have available in our collections. These will most likely serve as inspiration for Foster Grant’s continued journey of delivering the ultimate in eyewear style to our customers.
You can see the sunglasses for yourself now in theaters or when the movie hits HBO Max’s streaming service in early August.