All good US eyewear comes from the west coast. While this has arguably been received wisdom over the last decade, a visit to Vision Expo East (New York, 16–18 March) revealed to OT that while brands such as Barton Perreira, Dita, Garrett Leight, and Ahlem continue to produce stylish high-end frames, the east coast has been quietly developing a new-found momentum of its own.
Brooklyn Spectacles’ director of sales and creative, Scott Anthony, told OT that “Brooklyn has a real cache” with customers.
Launched in 2012, and based in Williamsberg, the brand describes itself as “embracing the local community, seeking inspiration from the creative personalities and colourful streets of Brooklyn.”
Once a dispensing optician himself, Mr Anthony told OT that the company’s founder, Jenny Ma, recruited him in order to help her develop a range of frames to appear in her group of successful optical practices. The inspiration was quality, in part a response to a market “flooded” with low grade products.
The collection launched with a ‘faux-wood’ Italian acetate, which Mr Anthony described to OT as “hand-finished and textured.”
Six years on the collection has grown, but he stressed that the essentials remain the same. “There is no brand label on the sides, and everything is hand-made including the rivets,” he said. The frames use Italian Mazzucchelli acetate, and feature robust five-barrel hinges.
Highlighting the new frames on show at Vision Expo East, Mr Anthony pointed to the metal ‘Wilson’ frame, and ‘N-02’ from the ‘Japan Collection.’
“We are looking at the UK market,” Mr Anthony told OT, having successfully agreed a contract with a distributor in the Netherlands. Watch this space.
Three more east coast eyewear companies to look out for this year…
State Optical Co – designed and made in Chicago, this company is proud of its ‘made in the US’ credentials. “A first-of-its kind brand of luxury American eyewear,” the company was founded in 2014, bringing together the experience of cousins Marc Franchi and Jason Stanley who had set up an eyewear manufacturing business in 2012, and Scott Shapiro and Jerry Wolowicz, executives at a family owned, independent eyewear company. The eyewear collection was designed by Blake Kuwahara, an optometrist and American eyewear designer. The introductory line includes 12 styles, “with each pair undergoing an arduous process of over 75 steps and hundreds of hours, turning the employees behind the brand into an elite group of artisans, handcrafting luxury eyewear,” State Optical Co said. At Vision Expo East, the company launched its limited-edition collaboration with fashion house, Creatures of the Wind.
Smoke x Mirrors – another New York based brand, founded in 2014. The company describes its look as “an eyewear collection that combines traditional lines with state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques. Old world craftsmanship and quality standard meet new world technology.” Drawing its design principles from music history, lookout for the ‘Swing’ collection, including the ‘Torero,’ an acetate frame inspired by the “rhythmic beats of Italian Swing of the 1950s,” the company said.
Lerocher – this New York based brand describes itself as a “boutique eyewear collection – iconic, stylish and evocative.” Details to look out for include the artisanal Japanese craftsmanship, high-end finishes, and quirky details on the frames.