Visual Art

Rainy Day Shades

student releases sunglasses design to fashion world

Eric Larson |

Student/designer Luis Santiago.
Student/designer Luis Santiago.

Luis Santiago’s got a reason to smile; a celebratory fist pump would be totally justified, too. Heck, if I were him – and had the gumption, proper footwear and raw leg power to do so – I might even try a backflip.

Why so happy? Three reasons: 1) The UW-Stout Industrial Design major, now beginning his last semester in Menomonie, did what most designers only begin to fantasize about. Earlier this year, he released his first finished product – a line of sunglasses called “Rainy Day” – to the mainstream fashion market (Smile? Check.) 2) He designed the glasses when New York-based fashion models Coco and Breezy, who he met through a family member, asked for ideas for their already eccentric line of eyewear. After seeing Santiago’s creation, the twins decided to use his “Rainy Day” design – an umbrella-themed style with a distinctive curve above the rim of the glasses – as the theme for a runway show during New York’s Fashion Week in September (Step aside, Pauly D – the fist pump is on!) 3) And, to add the cherry a’ top an already fantastically fashion-y year, the shades were featured in Beyoncé’s video for her newest single, Party. (Alright, just remember now: a good backflip starts in the knees.)
But enough arbitrary buildup. Santiago, who got in touch with me via e-mail, said the experience so far has been unforgettable – and just the break he was hoping for.
“The show (in New York) was awesome,” he told me. “It’s crazy there … the people in the fashion world have an immense amount of drive. They work hard and believe in their product.”

And after the success of the show and positive reaction to the line, he said, the twins dubbed him their new lead designer. Not a bad gig for someone still in school. “It’s a new market for the girls,” he said, “but I feel people can sense growth for their brand.”

Ideally, he told me, he’d like to start his own design company someday or design footwear for a major brand like Nike, Adidas, or New Balance. As of now, though, he said he’s focused on finishing school and continuing to design for the twins.

The “Rainy Day” collection in its entirety is available ($125) in two colors, black-white and black-wood grain, on