There’s a major trend in the optometry and optical world to drop manufacturers like Luxottica, Safilo, Kering, Marchon, De Rigo REM, and more who make mass-market eyewear. The designs, quality, and styles just don’t excite our patients and customers anymore! People want to shop at opticals that really offer unique frames and support smaller brands who frankly make eyewear better and more fashionable. Why be a sheep and sell frames every optical has?
1. BLAKE KUWAHARA
Blake Kuwahara frames are iconic and adored because they are instantly recognizable. Their unique frame-within-a-frame appearance masters the art of effortless glamour. Based out of a city near Saint Louis, there is a distinct “Hollywood” vibe emitted from these fabulous frames. All of the colors Kuwahara uses in his collections can be found in nature, making them universally flattering on all skin tones. My favorite detail about his frames is at the end of each temple, where an emblem of his family crest is suspended in a small circle of glass. Although this feature is certainly a beautiful homage to the designer’s roots, it also serves an admirable purpose: the placement of the glass allows the frames to balance perfectly on the wearer’s face.
Retail prices starting at $550+
This iconic Danish frame line has a cult following– and it isn’t difficult to understand why. Made out of 100% Japanese titanium, the frames in these collections are wildly durable for simultaneously being lighter than a feather. This frame line is so confident in the longevity of their frames, Lindberg-owners can rest easily knowing they are under a generous three-year warranty, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever need to use it. I once knew someone who accidentally ran over his Lindberg’s in his pick-up truck… he was shocked that the frames not only survived, but were virtually unscathed. These frames are so comfortable, it is likely you’ll forget you’re even wearing glasses. Anyone who identifies as a “minimalist” will be thrilled with the understated appearance of these frames. Best of all, Lindberg’s are completely customizable. From color to sizing to personalized engraving, nearly every aspect of these frames can be tailor-made to the wearer’s liking. Their iconic screwless design is sophisticated and convenient. No more scrambling through your purse or satchel to find that pesky missing miniscule screw that fell out when you fell asleep in your specs.
Retail prices starting at $550+
3. JACQUES MARIE MAGE
Based out of the romantic destination of Paris, you can expect chic and bold fashion-forward frames from this luxurious line. Each frame is handmade in extremely limited quantities, making each pair special and personal. JMM does not make your standard oversized thick frames– they cater to all face sizes, curating gorgeous chunky frames that can flatter even a petite face without overwhelming it. The shapes have a distinct vintage aura to them without ever feeling old-fashioned. There is a built-in “wow” moment when someone picks up these frames, as they are dispensed with the signature burgundy JMM case that looks like it could be home to a royal wedding invitation.
Retail prices starting at $500+
4. LEISURE SOCIETY
This California-based frame line is home to some of the most timeless and breathtaking eyeglass designs that I have ever seen in my optical experience. Designed to be passed down through a family as an heirloom, these frames live up to their expensive appearance. Some of their frames have real diamonds and water buffalo horn components, and nearly all of their titanium frames are beautifully plated in 12, 18, and 24 karat gold. Their designs utilize interesting stylistic elements such as negative space between the lens and the top of a cat-eye frame, as well as subtle detailing of colored enamel that manages to look chic without trying too hard to be chic.
Retail prices starting at $750+
5. KIRK & KIRK
Founded in Britain, Kirk & Kirk has quickly gained worldwide recognition. Among K&K’s many notable fans, is the host of The Great British Bake-Off, who can often be seen sporting a wide variety of frames from this line. What makes these frames especially unique is their uncommon choice of material. The choice to make these frames out of acrylic rather than acetate serves two primary purposes: one, they are able to create brighter and more vibrant frame colors, and two, they are shockingly almost weightless despite their chunkier design. Some designs also feature adorable animal-shaped tiny emblems fashioned into the frame front. Only when you take a closer look do you notice the pair of dogs or itty bitty bumblebees. These features could look kitschy, but somehow they feel elegant. It’s impossible to wear these frames without a smile on your face.
Retail prices starting at $400+
6. GOLD & WOOD
Gold & Wood is based out of Luxembourg, and the fine details associated with Western European style are distinctive in their extravagant frames. Crafted with natural elements, these frames are the perfect fusion of eyewear and jewelry. The bold and rich coloring is one of the most striking aspects of Gold & Wood’s frames. Their colors and designs stand out so much, that you could wear a plain white T-shirt and blacks jeans, and you’d still be the best dressed in the room. Their collections boast 12 different varieties of wood, hand-painted natural silk, carbon fiber, water buffalo horn, solid gold, and genuine diamonds. Wood frames are known for their inability to be manipulated, but Gold & Wood seems to have thought of everything– the end of their temples are adjustable, so they can be fitted around any wearer’s ears.
Retail prices starting at $820+
Born and managed out of Canada, RAPP frames are unlike any line I’ve ever seen. Every frame has that coveted matte appearance, which they achieve by using unpolished acetate. While this contributes to a more muted color palette, these frames are far from boring or even neutral. Their dreamy lines showcase sharp edges, geometric shapes, futuristic styles, and pristine craftsmanship. Their brushed titanium temples complete the quirky yet still high-end vibe. This frame line has something for everyone, but is best suited for petite women who are fashion-forward and unafraid of being stopped by strangers on the street begging to know, “where did you get your glasses?!”
Retail prices starting at $500+
8. BARTON PERREIRA
Ah, good ‘ol Barton Perreira. Based out of California, each frame from this line is handcrafted in Japan. The brainchild of Patty Perreira and Bill Barton is dependably created with the everyday glasses-wearer in mind, making it a walk in the park to find a flattering frame for any face. Patty used her talents to design for countless well-known eyewear lines before she partnered with Bill, an optician who became the esteemed CEO of Oliver Peoples later in his career. The frames this line creates are in tune with current trends as well as timeless artistry, primarily utilizing titanium and acetate. The acetate in these frames is not normal acetate, though– they source plant-based acetates made of cotton and wood to minimize their ecological footprint. What I love most about Barton Perreira is their commitment to making frames for people of all sizes. They have plenty of gorgeous petite frames, but they also have feminine frames in larger eye sizes which is sure to please the women who have a larger head size but aren’t trying to settle for a large “masculine” frame.
Retail prices starting at $395+
9. CHROME HEARTS
The elusive Chrome Hearts line feels like an exclusive, invite-only club that you didn’t know you were actually dying to be a part of. Based out of the sunny star-studded city of angels, this line is a Los Angeles gem. There are very few authorized Chrome Hearts retailers, but if you manage to find one, you’re in major luck. Chrome Hearts sells a wide variety of luxury items, but their eyewear may be their most coveted. Sported by mega-influencers such as Bella and Gigi Hadid, these frames are unapologetic in their grandeur. A combination of acetate, gold, titanium, sterling silver, and precious stones makes these frames deliciously decadent. With loud gothic symbols and heavy accents, this line is perfect for the glasses wearer who wishes to be dripping in fine jewels. The quality of these frames is top-tier, but the designs have an unmistakable sense of humor. With some of their frames holding names like “Vajammin’,” “Sluntuation,” and “Cuntvoluted,” this line is probably not going to win over your easily-offended grandmother, but those who get a kick out of this NSFW surprise are sure to indulge in a hearty chuckle.
Retail prices start at $850+
Originating in Belgium, this trendsetting and internationally-renowned frame line is home to the most wacky and avant-garde designs I have ever had the pleasure of encountering. The first time I saw a THEO, I actually gasped. These frames come in a variety of shocking neon colors– highlighter yellow, Barbie hot pink, electric blue, construction-cone orange, and the kind of lime green that reminds you of early 2000’s Nickelodeon slime (just to name a few). THEO didn’t just stop at jarring colors either. The shapes of their frames are individual works of art, making them look like they came straight off the Alexander McQueen runway of your dreams. Most THEO frames are titanium, but they also have an impressive selection of acetate-based pieces as well. This well-made eccentric line is ideal for passionate and artistic people who have zero desire to blend into a crowd. This playful line makes eyewear that is designed with the intention to be a statement that accentuates your face as a whole, rather than the focus only being on accentuating your eyes.
Retail prices starting at $500+