The Charlotte-based eyewear studio, Johnny Fly, offers a kaleidoscope of modern frames, both familiar and reimagined in design and utility. The optical boutique has been serving the Carolinas and beyond since 2012 when John Freeman, founder and CEO, desired a change in perspective with how we see the world. Through Johnny Fly’s unique lens, Freeman unites opulent craftsmanship with durable, reliable silhouettes that seamlessly integrate fashion and function as one. With brand new collections rolling out every few months and the company approaching its notorious annual celebration of growth, it’s no longer a question of “what’s next” with Johnny Fly, but an understanding that there is always more than one way to see what’s in front of us.
Johnny Fly eyewear includes a swath of different frames ranging from practical luxury sunglasses to creatively drawn prescription lenses. At its core, however, Johnny Fly embodies a lifestyle rich with adventure, seeking to supply the wanderlust in all of us with style and utility. As a result, the company deals in high-profile leather goods that compliment their optical department, suiting up a suite of necessities that can elevate even the most domestic of travelers. From its humble beginnings, Johnny Fly sought to redefine the essence of eyewear and give us greater energy behind the shades, taking classic concepts and spinning them around. One of the brand’s recent collections, named “The Cosmic Collection”, incorporates nylon lensing into the design of four celestial frames that carry a strong gravitational pull. Polarized nylon is a unique material when applied to sunglasses, as nylon is a lighter alternative to conventional models. Because of this, nylon is more sustainable and reduces a carbon footprint, sewing clean design into its existing flexible, BPA-free make up. The “Cosmic Collection” also demonstrates the brand’s use of Italian acetate, which is a strong material for framing.
Additionally, Johnny Fly brings a commanding presence to the fashion industry, having worked closely with a number of designers during New York Fashion Week and independent editorials. A new collection, “Fame and Fortune”, is slated for release on September 1st and demands authority against whatever backdrop you find yourself a part of. With Johnny Fly sunny’s, it’s easy to become the vantage point instead of a piece of the scenery, and statement frames like those of “Fame and Fortune” come in hot with bold outlines, translucent lensing, and wings that take style to the skies. In its simplest form, Johnny Fly eyewear is sustainable by nature and by design. The company strives for longevity in their work, crafting accessories and co-pilots that will endure for decades down the road. In a similar vein, their production is intentional and executed with smart strategies that yield a reliable pair of shades, working with a combination of acetates and woods that are built to last.
When Johnny Fly opened their flagship retail space in 2017, Freeman and his team were not expecting the studio to become the beating heart of the brand so quickly. Located in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood, the first Johnny Fly store was met with immediate praise and ushered a new chapter for the company that would bring the brand closer to its consumers. The studio gave an opportunity for people to interact with the products, smell the fine leather goods, and feel the difference with each shape. Designed like an art gallery, it also added another layer of luxe appeal to the brand. Most importantly, however, it allowed Freeman the chance to listen and learn from consumers on what they wanted to see in an eyewear company, which became an invaluable asset to the team. Building those long-term relationships is part of the success in Johnny Fly, as Charlotte alone is brimming with local talent both creatively and professionally in finance and business circuits. The people of Charlotte are proud of their city and will go the extra mile to be a part of the discussion, especially when it deals with community growth. Johnny Fly receives a great deal of support from fellow makers and creators and has fostered a unique community that champions authenticity.
With so much aerial development, Johnny Fly remains exceptionally localized in their growth. Every year, the brand hosts a blowout celebration for their anniversary that rallies the best of Charlotte for a night of art, music, food, and beverage. This year’s gathering is slated for October and comes with a slew of exciting collaborations in the pipeline. As a tech-based, research-driven company, Johnny Fly is always on the precipice of a new frontier, gathering inspiration from all over the world. As we observe the company’s evolution through our sunglasses, we’ll need to follow along closely to catch the latest innovation in optical artistry.