Designer is seeking fashion world's eye

Steve Strawder is all about the eyewear

February 25, 2010|By Jill Rosen

Steve Strawder is all about turning heads - toward himself and in the direction of those who dare to wear his outlandish creations.

Take his recent approach to New York's Fashion Week: He's a young Baltimore designer, just 20 years old, trying to be seen and heard amid the cacophony of thousands of others who want the same thing.

So he showed up in a pair of handmade skinny jeans with spikes sewn onto the knees and back pockets. Spikes! Sharp ones. On his face were eyeglasses from his new line that lit up and flashed.

"They were really dangerous jeans," he says, laughing. "And the glasses just kept flashing while people were talking to me. That caught a lot of attention. I was looking really crazy, basically."

Crazy, yet kind of clever.

Someone from V magazine noticed him and requested some of his eyewear for a shoot that will appear in a coming issue.

Strawder, who might be better known in the fashion world as Stevie Boi, is the eccentric artist behind the SB accessory line. He's working to get noticed in the fickle fashion world, and if that means wearing cutting-edge (literally) jeans, so be it.

"I got a lot of good news out there about my product and myself," he says.

If you haven't heard of SB, it's likely you aren't running with the underground scene or getting out to enough clubs. Or maybe you're just a bit on the stylistically meek side.

The latest SB line is anchored by eyewear that would only look right balanced on the nose of a Lady Gaga or an Elton John.

There are shades with spikes jutting from the sides, shades that look as if they have metal grates covering the lenses and frames packed with enough sequins to satisfy even the most extreme disco devotee.

With most of Strawder's glasses, "seeing" seems to be something of an afterthought. In fact, right on his Web site (, it says "80 percent visibility."

They're a fashion-over-function thing, for sure.

Aside from Strawder's Web site, about the only place to buy the shades in Baltimore is at the boutique Cult in Mount Vernon.

Owner JP Robertson decided to carry them after Strawder brought a few pairs by the store.

"I took a look at them and thought they were cool and fun," Robertson says. "They're kind of glam. The kids like 'em - the ones who want to be fabulous."

Not surprisingly, Strawder's fashion icon and inspiration is Grace Jones. His goal: to get a pair on Lady Gaga.

Though Strawder, who's self-taught, has been making things to wear himself for years, poking through thrift stores to find things he could bring home and embellish, he's only been in business for less than a year.

He works from his apartment on the west side of downtown, gluing shiny bits of sparkle and mirrors onto frames.

It takes just a few moments to jazz up a pair of his entry-level frames, the ones wrapped in a sparkly fabric that sell for about $15.

The more elaborate varieties, which Strawder says can take hours, can cost upward of $100.

"I'm definitely going to stick with designing," he says. "It's not like just a job. It's something to actually live for."

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