Had it not been for a slight tint of blue all around me, I would have completely forgotten I was wearing sunglasses. But then of course as I continued along the streets of Barcelona someone would have asked the obvious, ‘where did you get those shades?’ These are not just any pair of sunglasses; they are hand-made by Cao Azuaje at Wilde Store.
The minute you step into this minute shop you discover it contains an incredible collection of sunglasses. Closer inspection reveals that these are vintage models ranging from the likes of 1950s Raybans to more recent Cazal models. “Think of it as a space dedicated to sunglass history from the 1950s to the 1990s,” said a voice who subsequently introduced himself as the owner of the shop, Carlos Azuaje or Cao for friends. After a few words with Cao Azuaje you realize that this shop expresses total devotion to sunglasses.
Wilde Store is not just a vintage sunglasses shop. It is, as Cao Azuaje comments, “his temple.” Cao Azuaje, an avid sunglasses collector, has travelled around the globe for over 18 years seeking what he calls “pieces of the highest aesthetics. I value the meticulous craftsmanship in which sunglasses were created forty years ago in small towns by local artisans. In some cases, these artists were responsible for creating iconic models for larger brands.”
Cao Azuaje explained that it was his sunglasses collection that gave him the idea of creating a line of his own in which he could “transmit his vision of the iconic models he admires most.” A hand-made pair of sunglasses is certainly something unique, though I sense that for him it is something special. “To be able to create something with your own hands, is priceless.”
“It takes 36 steps to make each model,” explained Cao Azuaje. “First you need to design the model, then cut the acetate and see if the shape will match the person’s facial features. From then you need very specialized tools, we have even built some of them specially. Then of course, you need acetates, glass trims, screws and crystals. But most importantly what you need is eagerness to see them completed.” However as with most things in life, hard work and dedication pay off. He explains, “It is very rewarding to see people who appreciate a piece that was hand-made in Barcelona.”
A hand-made pair of sunglasses is certainly something unique, and it is also an interesting experience to chat with Cao Azuaje at Wilde Store. Remember to stop by one of the two shops in Barcelona for a priceless souvenir on your next trip to the Catalan capital. To quote Cao Azuaje “I can only say we are in full production.”
Wilde Store at El Raval
Calle Joaquín Costa 2
Wilde Store at Barrio Gótico
Calle Avinyo 21