Since Miles Davis’ death in 1991, his estate has been careful about endorsing products that use his name. There were the Miles Davis Tribute Jazz Headphones marketed and sold by Monster, along with various merchandise (T-shirts, hats, et al.) sold by the estate on its own website, and the various reissues from Sony. But generally, the Miles Davis brand has not been overused. That’s why the announcement of a new Miles-related product caught our attention. The folks at the Europe-based Vinylize have created specially designed eyewear (we prefer the term “shades”) based on the sunglasses Miles wore at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.
Founded in 2004, Vinylize takes vinyl from old albums and recycles it into handmade eyewear. The press release received at JazzTimes says that the company recycles more than three tons of vinyl yearly. Zack Tipton initially created the business in the early 2000s using his father’s old collection of records, which had come from the Communist era, supposedly bargain-hunted in the flea markets of Budapest. In the ensuing years, the company has collaborated with Motown and designed eyewear for the likes of AC/DC, Richard Branson, Elton John, Robbie Williams, Mick Fleetwood, Elvis Costello, Shawn Mendes, and Ed Sheeran. The products of the company are marketed all over the globe in over 500 stores.
“When Miles Davis’ family came to us with the idea, we couldn’t believe it,” Tipton said in the press release. “The tagline of our Vinylize brand is ‘Wear the music,’ as the frames are made from vinyl records. We’ve always had a good relationship with musicians … [C]ountless international stars wear our glasses. Miles Davis is also an icon in terms of fashion whose style we can only reinterpret with due respect. Miles wore the frame that inspired us in 1958. Newport, like our frames in general, is a limited edition. Only 200 frames are made.” Which may in part account for the hefty price tag of $695. Models named after Dave Brubeck, Dexter Gordon, Duke Ellington, Max Roach, and Charles Mingus go for a bit less.
“Everyone knows [Davis’] music, of course, but when I met him, he painted just as much as he played music, and then there were his clothes,” said Miles’ longtime friend and collaborator Marcus Miller. “Everything played the same role. He was a revelation of who he was and how he wanted to present himself. He knew people cared about him. In addition, clothing was very important back then. I’m mainly talking about the ’40s and ’50s, because that was a period when black performers were fighting to be recognized as more than just members of the entertainment industry.”
For more information about the Miles Davis Newport 1958 eyewear, visit Vinylize’s website.