Address: Carrer Joaquin Costa, 2 08001
Carrer Avinyo, 21 08002
Hours: Mon - Sat 12pm - 9pm
Sun 4:30pm - 8:30pm
There are cities that try to be cool, and there are cities that simply can’t be anything else. Barcelona, being the latter, is a place in a perpetual flux of fashion evolution and reinvention. And when you explore the unique stores and boutiques that grace this city’s ancient streets, it becomes easy to see why.
What originally drew me to Barcelona was its more obvious charms: the great weather, beautiful beaches and colourful architecture, but what inspired me to stay was the way it seems to embrace independent spirits. Everything and anything seems to be possible for creative entrepreneurs with ambition and passion for whatever it is they do. Testament to this “anything’s possible” mentality that pulsates through Barcelona’s veins are two fashionistas and successful businessmen, Cao Azuaje from Venezuela and Teppei Kikugawa from Japan.
Sharing a burning passion for unique, original and often bizarre sunglasses, they joined forces to open Wilde Sunglasses in the heart of the vibrant Raval neighbourhood. I can’t think of a better place for them to have set up shop as this part of the city is known for being at the heart of Barcelona’s counter cultures. It’s an area that throngs with artists and dancers, professional skateboarders and musicians. It’s bold and irreverent, progressive and unafraid to follow the beat of its own drum. This rebellious energy is galvanised by some of the most important cultural venues in Barcelona, including the MACBA contemporary art gallery and CCCB contemporary culture centre, as well as smaller venues which have opened in their wake, such as the multidimensional Miscelanea art space, which I have also included in this guide. Importantly, Raval is also home to a community of independent shopkeepers who have been drawn to the area by the more affordable rental prices.
The Wilde Sunglasses store epitomises the neighbourhood’s attitude perfectly. But it’s more than just a store, it’s the culmination of almost two decades of hand-selecting vintage sunglasses that Cao and Teppei have picked up at urban auctions and undisclosed sources on their treasure hunts around the world.
They now have what I personally consider to be two of the most beautiful boutiques in Barcelona, where you can indulge in a world of surreal sunglasses and luxury accessories. Shop for vintage frames of various style epochs from the 50s to the 90s, such as Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Ray Ban, Persol and Lacoste, as well as more obscure boutique brands and non-branded beauties.
As with all love stories, Cao and Tepe’s passion for vintage sunglasses has gone from strength to strength and they have now branched out into designing their very own range of bold and funky sunglasses. Inspired by the vintage finds that adorn their own collections, as well as Japanese culture, (specifically the iconic style of the Japanese mafia known in the 50s), they have created their own unique brand. “The references we use are inspired from movies, photographs, documentaries, but above all this very much based on the vintage collection,” says Cao. “Elements that engage a story is then told through our sunglasses.”
Exclusivity is maintained by limiting the quantity and colour of each model, resulting in contemporary pieces that hint at classic design. Wilde Sunglasses are contemporary yet timeless fashion statements that you can wear every day and remember the sunny days you spent in the Catalan capital. Tell me that’s not a better souvenir than a fridge magnet!