Brad and Julia sport them...where are your sunglasses?
Hollywood A-listers have figured out the cool way to hold on to their accessories.
NEW YORK (Fortune) -- It used to be that there were two ways to keep your sunglasses safely around your neck: librarians wore the chain-link version, and 80s teen-movie stars wore the neoprene one.
Thankfully - for everyone who doesn't fall into either camp - a new, dare we say fashionable, alternative has been showing up everywhere from album covers to city subways.
Called La LOOP, the necklaces run the gamut from silver and sleek to colorful and funky, and they all sport a loop with a patented hinge that moves laterally and vertically - so that once you hang your sunglasses on the loop, they stay still no matter how you move.
It's a concept company co-founder Elizabeth Faraut says she developed after years of "driving with my left hand and sticking my right into my purse to dig around for my glasses."
Faraut, who had made a career in public relations and marketing for companies such as Guess, then teamed with Debbie Zoullas, who was EVP of Sotheby's Holding, and together they founded La LOOP in 1999. They got a patent in 8 months, and before long, were peddling their product to the high-end optical shops of Manhattan's Madison Ave.
It wasn't until Hollywood came calling, however, that the jewelry really began to catch on. Costume designer Jeffrey Kurland bought 20 at retail in Robert Marc, and put one on Julia Roberts in 2001's "America's Sweethearts."
Fashion photographer Mario Testino bought 50 to give as Christmas presents. Rod Stewart wore one on the cover of one of his albums. And Brad Pitt sported one in "Ocean's Twelve."
"They were buying them and we didn't know," says Faraut, "but they would wind up in all these places. Lots of costume designers and photographers fell in love with them because they were working with their hands, so they needed something like this, but it also had to be chic and cool."
Now La LOOP is sold in 600 stores worldwide - Bergdorf Goodman, Fred Segal, Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, and the MoMA and Whitney stores among them . There are 100 locations in Japan alone and a presence everywhere from Australia to Belgium.
The company has also expanded to include the SportLOOP, a sporty version of the original, and La Leash, a lanyard-esque clip, cord and (sometimes) case combination to keep other accessories like keys and cell phones close and corralled. (The latter has also yielded an amusing profusion of names, including Le Pod for iPods, Le Pass for passports, and Le Case for Blackberrys.)
As with all things fabulous, developing an addiction could cost you. Though SportLOOP only goes for $15, La LOOP ranges from $85 to $500, and La Leash runs between $35 and $195. (More details at http://www.laloop.com/web/.)
This season, Faraut recommends checking out La LOOP's Dancing Beads in gold vermeil, rose gold vermeil or sterling silver; La LOOP's Park Avenue Chain in gold vermeil or sterling silver; and Le Case for all your Blackberry, Treo and digital camera-toting needs.
Faraut says one customer e-mailed in to say La LOOP had saved his marriage -- had his wife continued to ask where her glasses were, he'd have divorced her, the customer wrote.
Even if they can't ease the tensions in your household, they might just save your Ray-Bans.