Interview With Fashion Icon And Optician Sue Randhawa
Deeply involved in the local fashion scene, she collaborates on lookbooks, editorials, and video shoots. In support of emerging designers, she’s a front-row fixture at Vancouver Fashion Week and a regular guest speaker at fashion schools. Naturally, she brings all this into her work to help clients find the right eyewear to complement their personal style.
For Randhawa, fashion has no barriers; it’s for all ages, genders, races, and religions. She approaches her style consultations with curiosity and without judgment. Randhawa doesn’t limit herself in style or life – she’s also a marathon runner, road biker, and soon-to-be author – and so she’s inspired to help others see and celebrate their own uniqueness.
The attention to detail that guides curation carries through to the boutique experience. Finding the right pair of glasses is both an art and science. Providing thoughtful comprehensive service, our Opticians consider all the angles, including prescription, facial features, lifestyle, personality, and visual needs.
Sue Randhawa is a well-known name in the world of Fashion. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into fashion?
I am surprised and flattered to know that my name is known in the world of fashion. I have been in the optical industry since 1991 but my love for fashion started from a very young age back in 1975. I was born in India in 1968 and by the time I was 6 or 7 I was intrigued by the fashion of the 70s. The big hair, the bell-bottoms, the music…I was too young to take part but I became keenly aware of the impact and power of clothes. I was the oldest of five and we didn’t have a lot of money growing up. We never had enough when it came to clothes – I was always ready to improvise with what we had. Cut the bottom off of something and add it to something else. Or I would take something apart and redesign it. I was constantly looking at the fashion landscape around me. When I started in the optical industry in 1991, I knew it was mostly a health/science field which is what drew me to the field initially. I quickly realized that as an independent business owner I could create a new business model – one that suited me and one that would bring my love of fashion and eyewear together.
Your fashion statement is quite unique. How do you pick your outfit?
My fashion statement is unique to most because as a 53-year-old Indian woman I don’t follow the typical trend of the moment. My look is different – my colorful and patterned clothes, my hair (with the grey), my eyewear…How do I do it? For me it’s easy – it takes me about 10 minutes to put an outfit together. How do I do it so quickly? I don’t take it that seriously. People get very stressed about wearing and mixing colors and my advice is to start small – start with a scarf or a pair of glasses. Have fun with it and don’t worry too much about it. A colorful pair of shoes is a great addition to a wardrobe!
Who is your personal favorite designer?
My personal favorite designers are Dries Van Noten, Vivienne Westwood, Comme des Garcons.
You have been in the spotlight many times during Vancouver Fashion Week. Tell us more about this association.
Vancouver Fashion Week is special to me because until a few years ago I rarely attended public events. I was always busy in my business – running the store. By chance, I met two young ladies who convinced me to go to some Vancouver events. I was uninterested because by nature I’m shy and to go to an event meant that I would need to step outside of my comfort zone. They convinced me by telling me that people will be interested in me and will want to know what I do. So I went and the interest in me and what I was wearing astonished me. The rest as they say is history. I attend every season and I give a scholarship to an emerging design student that has attended a post-secondary school in Vancouver. I travel to Paris every fall and am often lucky enough to attend some of the shows during Paris Fashion Week, Milan and New York happen for me in the spring. The fashion shows are definitely a highlight of being a business owner. Fashion is in everything that I do – it’s in how I live, It’s in how I’ve raised my children, it’s most certainly in how I run my business. My profession is that of an optician but my love of fashion is my passion. When I fit clients with new eyewear I also give them styling advice on how to complete their new look. How to incorporate color into their wardrobe, how to go grey, how going grey changes your color choices. How it changes your makeup choices…this is every day for me and I love it!