Garrett Leight California Optical Mayan Sun


At this point, most of the Notorious BIG’s style references - the Coogi sweaters, the jet black leather bombers, the butter soft wheat Timbs - have been well mined by fashionistas and civilians alike. There is, however, one part of Biggie’s style that has flown under the radar - his iconic sunglasses.

Grounded by a striking geometric frame, shallow lens, and chunky temple pieces, Biggie’s sunglasses were assertive yet refined. They were also a signature part of his look and persona. Much like his music, they spoke to everyone from hardcore hip-hip heads with rough edges to “all the ladies in the place with style and grace.”

Biggie would rock his sunglasses with everything from a graphic tee and some XXXL Girbaud jeans to a decadent cream-colored four button Mafia-inspired suit and cane. Whether they were being used to provide some gentle cover for his iconic lazy eye (or prodigious marijuana consumption), it was rare to see prime-era Biggie without his signature jet black frames on. And just so you know that we of course have love for the west coast, we would also like to shout out Eazy E and Ice Cube, both of whom rocked jet black geometric frames post-NWA.

Notorious BIG Eazy E wearing black square shape sunglasses

Fast forward a few years and the world would see these unisex frames sported by another sartorial and musical icon, the inimitable R&B / hip-hip singer Aaliyah. Much like Biggie, Aaliyah was able to effortlessly weave between the charts and the streets and express herself with total authenticity and creativity.

Aaliyah wearing geometric sunglasses

When she paired her geometric frames with baggy, “tomboy-ish” sportswear like leather football jerseys, oversized windbreakers, and bucket hats she was also incorporating “femme” pieces like crop tops, sports bras, low rise jeans, and raver jeans. This seems commonplace now, but at the time, no one was really crossing over between softness and ruggedness with such fluidity and ease. It wasn’t so much unisex as it was sexy AND assertive.

It was also a blueprint for the looks and sounds of dozens of future stars. Without Aaliyah, there’s no Drake, and no Tinashe. As for those square frames that Tyler, The Creator rocked for the duration of his Igor album cycle, they are also pulled straight from the Aaliyah mood-board.

While geometric frames received a lot of love from the hip-hop and R&B communities, we’d be remiss to not mention that they were also a huge hit within the alternative rock scene. Singers including Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots and Layne Staley of Alice In Chains were also regularly seen sporting them with signature “grunge” items like ripped jeans and vintage floral shirts.

Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots Layne Staley of Alice In Chains

Inspired by the genre-fluid styles of Biggie, Aaliyah, and Tyler, our Mayan frames are unisex, lightweight, and perfect for pairing with whatever version of yourself you most feel like expressing. Sure, they have a bit of that ’90s-inspired retro feel, but as we all now know, “age ain’t nothing but a number” and the classics never go out of style.

Lifestyle image of Garrett Leight California Optical Mayan Sunglasses