Imogen Caldwell is One of Surfing’s Great Slashies
And you can add “Sunglasses Designer” to surfer/model/dirt biker/outback Queen/Fisherwoman.
Imogen Caldwell is the only female surfer with genuine model props who’s seen the inside of a double overhead tube.
With no prior knowledge, it would be easy to put Miss Caldwell in the ‘model’ category, but we love nothing more than people who’re full of surprises. Someone who looks straight off the Milan runway, charges giant north west Australian orbs, rips through the desert on a dirt bike and spears giant fish is the sort of multi-disciplinarian we cherish. Imogen’s latest venture is designing a range of sunnies for her sun specs sponsor OTIS. We caught up with the West Australian desert Queen to talk, surfin’, fishin’ and, well, sunnies.
“It’s been pretty crowded actually,” Imogen says when asked about the last couple of swells to grace the North West, “But I’ve still managed to get my fair share and make the most of winter at home.” A swift glance at Imogen’s instagram shows that getting her “fair share” over winter involved tucking into a medley of tubes of significance consequence, and also a good haul of sea life caught on the end of her spear.
Besides ample time spent in the rugged blue of the Indian Ocean, Imogen’s COVID time has been occupied with numerous work from home projects, the most significant of which being the design process that’s led to the release of her three signature OTIS frames: The Vixen, The Oska, and The Scarlett. Three different shapes, for three different shades of Miss Caldwell.
“The Vixen is edgy and cool, The Oska is bold and The Scarlett is a dainty frame with a more feminine touch,” she tells us. “Durability was the key factor when I was working with the designers. Driving around up North your sunnies can get super scratched if you leave them in the glove box or wherever, but because OTIS have glass lenses it makes them highly durable and scratch resistant.”
When asked which silhouette graces her face the most Imogen states that they all get equal play time. That was the point. “I wanted these frames to be versatile so that they’d all work anywhere from the beach to an event,” she says. “I’m always on the go, so I wanted to create a style that could adapt and be dressed up or down.”
From the outside designing sunglasses seems simple. Pick a shape, vintage or high end, take it in to HQ and reproduce. But Imogen tells us that it’s the details that differentiate shades and make them special. “I didn’t realise how much goes into the process of creating eyewear,” she says. “From the shape of the frame to the colour of the glass lens to the tiny details on the eco friendly packaging. I’m so proud of this range and loved every minute of working with the team and getting to know the ins and outs of the business.”
Like all those paid to surf and travel, COVID put an abrupt halt on Imogen’s 2020 plans, but she says it’s been a blessing as well as hinderance. “I was barely home at all last year and was gearing up for another huge one, so it’s been kinda nice to just sit back and work from home,” she says. “As for what’s next, I’ve got some big projects in the pipeline and hopefully some travel plans for 2021. But who knows. It’s one day at a time at the moment.”
Whatever comes next for West Oz’s favourite charger-beauty, at least she’s got her sparkly pupils well protected.
Curious as to the influences that filtered their way to the North West (for anyone who hasn’t been, where Imogen grew up is ten hours from Perth, the nearest city), we asked Imogen whose style had the most impact on her growing up. She laughed politely and said that she didn’t even wear shoes until she was 16. “Of all people, me being asked about style inspirations feels like such a funny question,” she says. “When I did start learning about fashion and wearing clothing instead of a bikini or a wetty I was inspired by every day women who made bold choices, stood out and were confident in their own skin.”
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