In this month’s 20/20 blog, Che Eyewear chat with our stylish and surprising customer, Balan. Working 9-5 in a high-powered corporate job, Balan likes to express himself with his wardrobe of glasses – proving that business attire can be personal after all! He’s also a connoisseur of stage productions and the symphony – in addition to the AFL – making him as quintessentially ‘Melbourne’ as Che Eyewear!
What is it that you do Balan, and how did you come to do it?
Balan: I work in the Management Consulting group at Price Waterhouse Coopers. I did a commerce law degree at University, and I decided to go down a commerce path, starting out as a graduate at PWC. I’ve been at PWC for eight years now.
When you were a littler person, what did you imagine that you might do?
Balan: When I was growing up I wanted to be a pilot, actually. I was just fascinated by planes. Even when I go to the airport today I just love staring out the window, watching planes take off. I always get a window seat when I’m flying.
You love it.
Balan: Yeah, I don’t know why. My cousin he ended up becoming a pilot and I’m still very jealous.
Do you remember your first pair of glasses? How did they make you feel, this first pair?
Balan: I worked out that I needed to wear glasses when I was at a finance lecture at University, and I couldn’t see what the lecturer was writing on the board. I was talking to the guy next to me at the time and he said, “try these”, so I put on his glasses and I could see clearly. That’s when I knew that I needed to get glasses, so I did an eye test and I think my first pair were Ray Bans. They were basically very square, small, black across the top. At the time I thought they were cool.
Do you think wearing different kinds of glasses changes the way you feel about yourself?
Balan: I think glasses change the image that you portray to the world. It’s funny – the first pair I bought from Che was the result of having been at a football game with my friends, my now-fiancee, and a couple of her friends. I said “Soph, I like your glasses. Where did you buy them?” And she said, “Oh, from a great lady on Smith Street at Che Eyewear.” So I actually came in the next day, and I think I bought a pair that day. Can show them to you?
Yes, please do! It’s been so interesting to reflect on our client’s collections of glasses!
Balan: (Presents glasses.) So this was the first pair I bought from Che.
They’re lovely and matte, a very modern tortoise-shell.
Balan: When I first bought them, they felt so different to anything I’d worn before. I was saying to my fiancee, “I don’t think I can wear these to work,” and she was like, “no, you’ll be fine”. I wore them to work and everyone loved them. From then on, it almost felt like I could get away with anything.
Do your glasses make you stand out in the workplace?
Balan: Yeah, I get a lot of comments about my glasses. I’m probably a bit of glasses snob these days! For me, glasses should do more than just making it easier to see. They should also allow you to make an impression. Sometimes I wonder – “Do I want 20/20 vision, or do I actually want to wear stylish glasses?” *laughs*
Do you recall buying a pair of glasses that were really silly or eccentric?
Balan: Yeah – I bought a sports pair back in the late ’90s that were cool.
Were they Oakleys?
Balan: Yeah! Yeah, exactly right. They had lenses which were an orange color. At the time I thought “These are great!” – but they live in permanently in my drawer at home and I wouldn’t wear them out.
What are two artistic expressions that you really connect with?
Balan: Over the last year and a half, we’ve been heading to hear my brother-in-law play bassoon for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Going to see the symphony is probably not something I’d have done off my own bat. Initially, we got free tickets to a concert, and we’ve probably been half a dozen times since. I love classical music. I used to sing a bit when I was younger, too. Music always calms me down. In terms of stage shows, I’ve seen The Lion King twice, and I’ve also seen Les Miserables.
Was it good?
Balan: It was amazing. At work, if I need to get away from everyone, I put my headphones in and listen to the Les Miserables musical score with the symphonic recording.
How do you feel before and after you listen to classical music?
Balan: I often turn it on because I’m stressed. It’s just a release, which allows me to get away from all the pressures of work. It gets you into that zone of focusing on what you need to get done. I grew up with music, playing piano and guitar. So I try and keep my mind open to different genres of music.
Do you have any glasses icons?
Balan: My brother has actually been blind since he was a kid, and he used to wear an eye patch when he was young. He’s one guy that has certainly started to push the boat out in terms of glasses, and he’s probably the one I always look to – it’s like he gives me licence to branch out a bit in my own style.