by Tucker Chet Markus
1988—Cynthia Rowley started her career by inviting New York’s most well-known fashion editors to a runway show...in her apartment.
An ambitious start that has deﬁned the trajectory of Cynthia’s success since; the Cynthia Rowley name has flourished, now with over 60 boutiques across the world. And today, Cynthia and her husband, art aesthete Bill Powers, have brought the quality and sensibility of the Cynthia Rowley brand to eyewear.
Launched last year, Rowley Eyewear is the result of Cynthia’s vision to make eyewear not a necessity for seeing but another way to see yourself. The women’s line is designed by Cynthia and the men’s line—called Mr. Powers—is crafted by Bill. While Rowley Eyewear is the latest company to embrace the direct-to-consumer e-commerce approach, what Cynthia has dubbed Rowley Care is what makes her offering unique—by creating what she cheekily refers to as fashion insurance.
Pony up $50 for annual membership when you pick up your ﬁrst pair (or opt $5 monthly installments) and throughout the year, you can buy as many frames as you want for 50% off. If you break a pair, buy a new one at 50% off. Leave your frames in a cab (ugh!)? Buy a second pair at 50% off. If you just want to switch it up, buy a third pair at 50% off. In fact, buy as many pairs as you like at 50% off—each designed with the artful perspective of one of the most preeminent fashion designers today.
We recently caught up with Cynthia and Bill about their inspirations—as fashion luminaries, as parents, and as husband and wife.
Cynthia, what was the inspiration behind expanding the Cynthia Rowley brand to eyewear?
C: As they say, a smile is the most important thing you put on in the morning, but if eyes are the window to the soul, shouldn't eyewear follow? Even though the e-commerce model already existed, no other designer had made glasses into a stylized accessory yet.
Explain the point of view behind Rowley Care.
C: Lose 'em, break 'em, scratch 'em, or maybe you're just bored: Rowley Care is your fashion insurance. By joining, you can purchase additional pairs of glasses at a reduced price.
What era of eyewear do you find yourself most influenced by?
Bill, what’s the one detail that you look for first when it comes to eyewear?
B: French writer Malcolm de Chazal said "We know the halls of our eye like welcome visitors.”
How does the Mr. Powers line capture this?
B: The glasses should evoke a kind of déjà vu, but still feel fresh.
Both the Rowley and Mr. Powers lines are seemingly defined as independent parts of a greater whole. With this in mind, Cynthia, how do you perceive Bill as a catalyst to your work? Bill, how do you perceive Cynthia as a catalyst to your work?
C: We both love art, and that influences every part of our lives. He is kinda bossy, haha, but in the end we both have our own aesthetic.
B: My wife likes to joke that giving unsolicited advice is my favorite hobby.
When looking through your own specs, what's your favorite sight to behold?
B: My kids.
C: Friends and family laughing, the New York skyline, the beach, and champagne bubbles in a glass.
And at arms-length, what is your favorite thing to read?
C: Bedtime stories to my kids.
B: The best book I read this year was The Flamethrowers.
To finish, fill in the blank: I’m absolutely in love with the _________ frame right now.
B: I love the #6 or #86 at the moment.
C: Well, the whole idea behind Rowley Care is that you don't have to limit yourself to just one pair! Right now I love #29 in black, #78 in honey tortoise, and #62 in blush.