Chicago: Lab Rabbit Optics

“My philosophy toward eyewear is simple: longevity and versatility are key”, says Coyote DeGroot.  “I want the frame to last, from both from a structural and stylistic standpoint.  The frame must complement, not overwhelm, the wearer.  And it should also be suitable for all occasions, weddings, job interviews, bachelor parties, funerals….”

Lab Rabbit Optics, located by Wicker Park in Chicago, opened nearly 9 years ago. Today, Coyote sells a wide selection of independent collections, from classics like Randolph Engineering to avantgarde designers from Japan. “My customer base is very diverse in terms of both lifestyle and age,” he told Eyestylist. “I make eyeglasses for attorneys, musicians, television and film producers, bike messengers, retirees, bartenders, professors, performance artists, doctors, deviants, and over-achievers.  Every day is a surprise.”

The development of an own label came naturally, owing to a serious passion and interest in design. “My own frames are designed in-house and handmade in Japan in limited quantities of 20-80 pieces per colour. The collection is comprised of nine different models, with another two in production.  They have unusually sturdy hinges, and lots of titanium, along with Mazzucchelli and Takiron acetates.  I try to offer something different in terms of the design, and I experiment constantly.  My customers really like having access to unique, limited edition frames, from a Chicago-based brand.  I’m now preparing for the frames to go into select optical shops outside Chicago.”

Frames on display: Lab Rabbit

Asked about the attitude of young people toward independent labels in Chicago, Coyote is realistic but he sees a trend that suits his style. “I think buying cheap, fast eyewear via the internet is a phase that a lot of consumers go though.  Many of my customers have purchased glasses from Warby Parker or Zenni in the past, and now they’re ready to invest in something better: cool handmade frames, more optically precise lenses, and attentive, personal service.  My shop definitely does NOT look like the average optical shop that most people grew up visiting, but it’s growing in popularity among the adventurous, and among those who recognize the lasting value of good quality products and service.” For more information visit: www.labrabbit.com CN

Chic + characterful: Laurence D’Ari, Antwerp

“Antwerp heart, Italian hands”

Antwerp creator and avid eyewear collector Laurence Bourguignon says she doesn’t follow trends nor does she focus on a specific target group or age. “My designs are an expression of myself and who I am. I can only hope they will be picked up by women with a genuine and self-confident personality, daring to express themselves.”

Named after her father Ari (short for Aristide), the collection remains something of a special ‘secret’ outside Belgium, although it’s stocked in some prestigious optical stores and luxury fashion stores like Azzurro Due (www.azzurrodue.com). Pictured above: model Authentic in Honey – a showpiece in the Laurence D’Ari collection.

Model Spirited by Laurence D’Ari – in Crystal Green

The 8 sunglasses in the 2019 selection – named after characteristics of personalities which the designer admires (they include ‘Devoted’ and ‘Spirited’) are crafted in Italy in rich marble-effect acetates with bold organic or angular oversized forms and retro-infused squares and cat eyes that have characteristic sculptural definition in some details such as a wave effect in the lower edge of the temples, and an open gold temple ring to attach the accompanying gold chain.

Eyewear with charisma: Laurence d’Ari model Devoted in Black Marble

Laurence D’Ari launched in 2018 with focus on strong, charismatic elegant styling inspired by vintage elements, especially for women. The sunglasses are available in selected opticians (including Annys Optiek, De Wilde, Philip Hoet and Frank Props) and several fashion concept stores known for unique designers and luxury apparel. Find the full collection online at www.laurencedari.com CN

The Viridi-anne x Rigards glasses

In a unique collaboration between award-winning avantgarde label Rigards and Japan’s artisan fashion designer Tomoaki Okaniwa, these silver + aluminium round glasses are among several of the works of art in the Rigards collection for 2019 – showing that the Hong-Kong based designer Ti Kwa continues on his own path of artisan craftsmanship and innovation, with ever greater achievement in the creative process and work with different, distinctive materials.

This complex small round frame is made from pure titanium and hand hammered .925 sterling silver for the nose piece, surgical steel for the temple arms and aluminium-magnesium for the interchangeable sun clip. Delicacy and character come from the signature hand worked finishes and elegant shape of the glasses which are light and refined, with a bespoke feel to each element of the design. A sophisticated nose pad design uses three different components which fit together to form the cohesive whole and unique colour combinations ensure a choice of dramatic or more subtle, depending on the individual’s style. The frame above is pictured in black (RG2001) with a white clip-on and contrasting red lens.

About The Viridi-anne: the brand was launched by Tomoaki Okaniwa in Japan in 2001. It is often described as Japanese in design, with influences from Europe. The label collaborates with many unique labels including Bocci, Mold and Daniel Andresen.

About Rigards: Rigards has become a creative leader in luxury artisan eyewear and produces frames by hand in a variety of sophisticated materials including copper, wood and buffalo horn. Rigards won the iF design award in 2018. for its aluminum-magnesium model RG0086AL. For further details visit www.rigards.com and www.viridi-anne.jp CN

Autumn choices: SoupCan tech innovation

Tavat Eyewear continues to prove that ingenious tech innovation is a lasting, winning trait in eyewear. Their SoupCan concept, launched in 2015 (at the Mido eyewear fair, Milan) and inspired by 1930s goggles, continues to achieve an ideal balance in the benefits of the “sandwich” style technical construction with rimlock closure. It also offers a completely different finish and feel to the design which is comfortable, durable and fresh in style.

An Eyestylist ‘pick’ / tech innovation: Hexad – in striped Havana

Launched in 2019, the Hexad in the Soupcan collection is offered in a range of colours suited to all tastes. They include classic matt black, bond blue horn and champagne, all beautiful and unique for the new season.

The frames are made in Italy and feature a long list of tech details from tiny watch-crown screws to comfy hypoallergenic nosepads; the metal temples are laser etched for a decorative touch and some styles benefit from ultra scratched hand finished surfaces which provide a tactile feel to the material and a subtle texture. Tavat’s frames in the SoupCan collection are the expression of a rare and innovative approach to functionality and style in product design and the refreshing aesthetic is ideally suited to those who seek something different beyond the ordinary designer frame. See more colours in the SoupCan collection at https://tavat-eyewear.com/eng/prodotto/hexad-sc041-ov / https://tavat-eyewear.com For more about Tavat click on the link: https://www.eyestylist.com/2018/10/tavat-eyewear-pantos-18k-gold/ CN

Designer insights: Laura Howard, Vera Wang eyewear

Behind the Vera Wang eyewear collection is a team of creatives with expertise in colour, shape and the technical precisions of a unique pair of spectacles. Eyestylist asked designer Laura Howard to talk about her approach to luxury product design and her thoughts on trends and choosing a new frame.

How long have you been working with Vera Wang eyewear? I first began working on the Vera Wang runway collection, VWX, in 2014, along with Kenmark’s CCO and Vera Wang optical collection designer, David Duralde. Vera has been fully involved from the beginning, so having all that history there when I started provided some valuable design groundwork and some major expectations to fulfil.

How do you turn Vera’s vision into an eyewear collection? Can you describe the process for each collection. Each season’s runway collection all starts with Vera! She is incredibly passionate about eyewear and spends a lot of time thinking about the point of view she wants her collection to have. We meet with Vera and her team to discuss trends, to gather inspiration and to get a read on her vision for the collection. She’ll often sketch a few ideas for shape or to show the scale and proportion she is looking for. I then take all of that and design many, many concepts for her to review and make further edits. She stays very involved after that by choosing every material, lens and finish for each frame. This collection is truly personal to her and she is creatively connected to each piece.

Laura works for Kenmark Eyewear in the US

From a personal point of view, what are your greatest passions in life, and does that impact on your work as a designer ? I have a real need to get out and experience the world. There aren’t many places that I wouldn’t go at least once! The takeaways from travel (even short weekend trips) have a lasting effect on my life and work. Just opening yourself up to new experiences allows for creativity to prosper. Being out in the world is also a reminder that there are faces other than my own. When designing, I obviously try everything on my face, so I constantly have to make sure I don’t end up with a collection that is tailor-made just for me.

Do you think that women are more in tune with the benefits of eyewear styling and choosing styles/colors that are enhancing to the personality. If so, can you give any examples or advise on choosing a frame? I think women have always been in tune with their personal style, but now more than ever, fashionable eyewear is much more accessible. With so many new ways to shop and eyewear being offered at nearly every price tier, women have access to a lot more variety and endless ways to express themselves. With that, I think choosing just one frame is no longer necessary. And I’d say try on EVERYTHING! As designers at Kenmark, we put frames on lots of faces. I would say that most people we fit end up loving something they never would have tried on if we didn’t make them. Toss out the face shape chart and go with your gut!

Developing the new-season Vera Wang designs

What can we expect in 2020 in terms of design trends / style/colour trends and how have you interpreted those concepts in the new collections? Metal eyewear is still a very strong trend that I don’t see going anywhere anytime soon. Shapes are trending toward more utility styling with pieces like shields and sports wraps. I think micro sunglasses are slowing down, but a frame on the smaller and thinner side is still going strong. Moving into 2020, I think we’ll start to see acetate creep back in, but in thinner profiles and more translucent colorways. One of the defining features of the Vera Wang collection has been the showcasing of exposed structure, which really lends itself to the growing utilitarian trend. Through a series of prongs and screws, the strength and construction of those pieces are celebrated, not buried within the materials. This styling will be carried forward into the newest collection by creating new shapes in metal that boast this concept.

V547: a round, transparent semi-rimless – the style comes in a selection of pastel tones

What is it like to work with a couture designer on a collection, and what have been the most exciting moments for you in your career path so far? Working with someone like Vera Wang, who 30+ years into her career is still at the top of her game, is truly the most fascinating and invigorating experience. I’m incredibly inspired by her sense of self, the strength in her vision and her tenacity as a designer. One of the perks of being around someone like that is that you get a contact high from their energy. Just absorbing her ideas, philosophies and instincts is always time well spent. Seeing your frames walk the runway isn’t too shabby either! For more details about the Vera Wang Collection visit www.kenmarkeyewear.com CN For previous articles about Vera Wang click on the following link: https://www.eyestylist.com/2019/08/deryn-by-vera-wang/

Trends: Super square

Big is definitely beautiful when it comes to square frames. This shape has re-emerged in 2019 with bold retro-inspired depth and bulkiness – or a minimalist airiness – in a choice of ingeneous colorations, that beg to be worn as modern statement pieces.

Above: Essedue model Ecstasy in grey from the Italian label’s Prima collection, a handfinished line produced in a family factory in Irpinia near Naples. Prima sunglasses by Essedue are available direct from the Essedue website at www.esseduesunglasses.com

Fuz by Oliver Goldsmith Sunglasses

Frames with a classic retro flair are an easy bet for all-year-round styling, and the square designs are already being hyped for SS2020. Model Fuz from Oliver Goldsmith is one that has inspired many other sunglass designs. First created in London in 1966, the frame is still constructed with bold bevelled edges and paddle temples – and comes in lots of new colorways including black leopard (above) and black cherry. www.olivergoldsmith.com

Percy from the Centena Collection by Kirk and Kirk

The UK label Kirk & Kirk always delivers a classic shape with a unique twist. The Percy is one of their acrylic optical styles in the Centena collection, providing a magnificently bold silhouette with the flash of transparent colour that lights up the face. www.kirkandkirk.com

Finest Seven Zero 09 in Burnt Champagne

In contrast, Finest Seven brings on the square with a special super fine structure. Their oversized Zero 09 has a large squareish lens with a neat double bridge. The frame is made of stainless steel wire and fitted with 100% UV 400 high quality Italian lenses. For more details visit www.finestseven.com CN

Folding sunnies: Balto by ROAV

Folding sunglasses have been around for decades. The Italian label Persol claim their 714 as the first-ever commercialised foldable design. Since then, beyond the classic designs and some iconic examples from the 1970s, new innovations in this area had been fairly scarce, until in 2017, the Californian start-up ROAV came along with a robust, screwless patented metal design, launching via Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform.

ROAV frames are made from 0.6mm stainless steel – they say they are thinner than an iPhone – and have micro hinges “press-formed” into the metal. Folding at the nose bridge, sides and along the temples, the whole frame packs down to fit snugly into a soft, flexible ‘pouch’ or case that’s under 7 cms wide. Every detail is there to make them easy to pull out and put away and convenient for travellers, weekenders and those who love a slim tech design for practicality and ease with enough detail in the styling to make them wearable.

Balto by ROAV – packs into a small pouch

For the most part, the shapes are straightforward and timeless and suit most faces, with regular black or gunmetal and a few more flashy colours such as gold (see above). The very flat TAC polarised sun lenses – which provide standard 100% UV400 protection (scratch and shatter resistant) vary from traditional hues for a tone-on-tone effect with matching frame to super bright acid mirror tones of red or green.

ROAV sunglasses are available online and, increasingly through opticians, and they come with a 2 year defect free warranty which means your style will be fixed or replaced during that time if you find any problems. For more information, visit www.roaveyewear.com or in the UK go to www.roavuk.com CN

Japanese eyewear: True Vintage Revival TVR®

Introducing TVR®, an eyewear collection by skilled craftsmen from Sabae City, Fukui Prefecture, Japan

Japanese precision, tradition and artisanal craft: at the centre of the frame manufacturing region of Fukui, where artisans have worked for over 60 years in old family-owned workshops, today there are just a few traditional factories existing in Sabae who still produce handmade eyewear, and a handful of craftsmen and women of this age who continue to produce eyeglasses by hand. Some of them work exclusively with True Vintage Revival – TVR®, a small label dedicated to their extraordinary expertise through the revival of the historic “classic” shapes. Above: Artisan Yamada Mitsukazu, in his 70s, works with his wife in their traditional workshop. He has been making frames since he was 16 years old. Between them, they make around 100 frames a month.

Inside the Sabae factory where TVR® frames are produced

TVR® uses time-tested methods to create these high-quality “revival” designs as well as original tools and moulds which date from the 1920s to the 80s. They also use the  “Datum Expression Size” technique, a masterful method for measurement used during the 50s in Japan to obtain a subtle balance in the design for comfort, durability and lightness.

Craftsman Yamada Mitsukazu: one of the TVR® collections is dedicated to Yamada

In the making of the TVR® classics, vintage design features including the keyhole-bridge, functional ‘spear’ rivets, 7-barrel hinges, and other traditional spectacle details are boldly executed with skill, passed down through these generations of craftsmen whose families were responsible for starting the production of Zylonite/celluloid spectacles in the early 1950s.

Model TVR®504: a shape made famous by James Dean

Today, TVR® produces a selection of collections in Japanese zyl and SPM Sun Platinum Metal – a metal material first used in Japan in the 1930s and a favourite of the former Emperor of Japan, Hirohito. The shapes are inspired by 50 rare and collectible frames the TVR® team found discarded in an old Sabae factory. The collections include the mainline TVR Collection and “YM” – the Yamada Mitsukazu collection. For details about frames in the collections launched for 2019, visit www.tvropt.com CN

Neo mint: Opal sunglasses by Lowercase

If you’ve never before tried pastel tones, the coming season is a good time to explore their beauty. In eyewear, transparent crystal, with just a dash of colour, has become an ideal companion for contemporary apparel, with soft pink, mint, blue or grey (on-trend now) infused in the acetate with subtlety and  modern appeal.

In tune with the mood, independent brand Lowercase has unveiled a set of modern tones in their made-in NYC collection, where mint green – a gorgeous hue in sync with the neo-mint palette – and tones like saffron are ideal choices for now – and months ahead.

Opal sunglasses by Lowercase

Designed in collaboration with California based swimwear label NU SWIM, the Opal sunglasses (pictured in mint green) feature a soft oval shape and elegantly slim arms. For protection, the frame is fitted with Carl Zeiss CR-39 sun lenses with optional polarization and -100% UVA/UVB protection. Launched this month, the frame is available for pre-order in mint (as well as canary yellow, red or honey) direct from the Lowercase site by visiting https://lowercasenyc.com/products/opal?variant=12309584216144 CN – for more on colour and new trends click on the link: https://www.eyestylist.com/2019/07/kensington-goes-california-the-eye-est-london/

Summer Festivals: Vinylize at Sziget 2019

Sziget festival has become one of Europe’s summer season musical highlights. Held each year in northern Budapest, the week-long event now attracts over 565,000 visitors and puts on around 1,000 performances. This year, the line up includes singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran, Post Malone and Twenty One Pilots from the US and Martin Garrix, DJ and record producer from The Netherlands.

As in previous years, all of the lead musicians/performers will receive special commemorative sunglasses made by Vinylize, the Budapest vinyl eyewear brand. Above: custom sunglasses by Vinylize await Ed Sheeran this week – where possible Zack Tipton makes the frames from the artist’s own vinyl – in this case he was able to use a copy of ‘Divide’ – Sheeran’s third album.

Gold Foo Fighters logo features on sunglasses for singer-songwriter David Grohl

Vinylize was first commissioned to make sunglasses for Sziget when Zack Tipton, co-founder of the brand, had lunch with Károly Gerendai, the visionary behind the event. Gerendai appreciated the fit between Vinylize and Sziget instantly. After he sold 70% of his stake in the festival in 2018 to a US-based private equity firm, the new organizers saw the value of continuing to work with Vinylize and the relationship continues.

Previous years: Zack and Yulia backstage with Robbie Williams and Ayda Field

The Vinylize team arrives at Sziget the day before the festival begins and stays throughout. “We design and pre-make the sunglasses and take our buffing wheel, thermal equipment to form the frame to the performer’s face and sandpaper for the final touches. Much as we’d love it if the performers dropped into our store for fittings, we work from photographs. 90% of the time our frames fit pretty well, and we just need some minor adjustments.”

For more information about Vinylize music projects and their vinyl eyewear visit www.vinylize.com – Sziget Festival takes place this week through to 13th August 2019. https://szigetfestival.com CN Find out more about Vinylize frames by clicking on our latest link: https://www.eyestylist.com/2019/03/eco-conscious-vinylize-tipton-x-nespresso/

Theo x Vincent

Antwerp is a creative force for emerging young designers. The city is home to avant-garde theo eyewear, and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. The lure of Antwerp and its stylish impact convinced German born Vincent Thürstein that The Royal Academy Fashion Department was where he wanted to study. Curiosity about a tribe in the Indian Ocean living apart from outer civilisation, sparked Vincent’s concept for his catwalk collection – Mokushiroku (above image) which in Japanese means apocalypse. In a reimagined post-apocalyptic civilisation, people will be just as prone to need eyewear as we are. Vincent knocked on theo’s door, Serge Bracké responded, and a dynamic collaboration was formed.

Theo x Vincent – eyewear reimagined for a post-apocalyptic civilisation

Vincent used inspirations from Japanese fisherman, Korean female divers, Rodchenko sculptures, Marcel Breuer and other sources to create his binoculars that bear a similarity to fishermen’s diving goggles. “I wanted to combine natural materials such as horn with metal components for the constructional elements,” said Vincent, “And Serge and I worked on the oxidation processes of the frame surface in the same way as I experimented with fabrics in my collection.”

Thürstein’s fashion design and theo x Vincent eyewear

When Vincent’s fashion silhouettes appeared on the catwalk, the smart details on the outfits and the softly muted but pleasing colour palette gave a reassuring glow. Theo x Vincent eyewear added the finishing touch to Mokushiroku. For more trailblazing eyewear designs visit www.theo.be JG

Crafting Plastics: part of ‘Food’ at V&A

The Crafting Plastics Studio – award-winning  innovators in materials and design – are a highlight of the V&A’s latest exhibition looking at food and farming and sustainable practices for the future.
Described as a multi-sensory exhibition, there are opportunities to participate by tasting or touching items on display, and overall the exhibition features more than 70 contemporary projects, new commissions and creative collaborations by artists and designers who are working with chefs, farmers, scientists and local communities.
Part of the discussion falls on creative projects using food products in innovative ways. A central feature of this section is the extensive work of Crafting Plastics who have created a type of compostable bioplastic, named Nuatan, from corn, starch, sugar and cooking oil. Colours are achieved using natural pigments such as turmeric or coffee.
Founded in 2016 by product designer Vlasta Kubušová and production designer Miroslav Král, Crafting Plastics has achieved consistent recognition for the material from the design world owing to its extraordinary versatility (it can be injection moulded, 3d printed or blow-formed) and eco-friendly properties, which include not being harmful to fish. Their first collection (‘Collection 1’) of biocompatible biodegradable sunglasses was exhibited at Salone del Mobile Milan in 2016 and since then they have won several awards which include Forbes 30 under 30 in 2018. The most recent project, Collection 4, features a series of handmade lighting objects. For more information about Crafting Plastics visit www.craftingplastics.com
FOOD: Bigger than the Plate runs until Sunday, 20th October 2019 at the V&A, South Kensington, London. www.vam.ac.uk

Deryn by Vera Wang

“Eyewear is the biggest accessory; it can change your whole mood”, declares fashion designer Vera Wang. The new optical styles from the celebrated designer enhance both mood and style mode. The latest releases are feminine and glamorous, featuring contemporary silhouettes in sophisticated colourations. Whether a graceful butterfly shape; a round semi-rimless in metal and acetate; or the beautiful square acetate Deryn (above), the selections are stunning. A waterfall Swarovski crystal pattern decoratively highlights the corners at the front of Deryn. Vera Wang’s eyewear, dresses and bridal wear all reflect her modern, pared-down approach to fashion and lifestyle. See more Vera Wang eyewear designs at www.kenmarkeyewear.com JG

Yi Wen Lim: Soft Power Mono-glass

The Mono-glass is part of RCA fashion graduate Yi Wen Lim’s SOFT POWER project (RCA 2019). SOFT POWER celebrates women at work and represents a new image of power and femininity.

RCA Fashion (Womenswear) graduate Yi Wen Lim has produced a stunning, wearable Mono-glass as part of a finals project entitled SOFT POWER.  The jewellery collection was designed in collaboration with Yi Wen Lim’s close jeweller friend Agatha (Instagram: @raccoonandbabiesofficial), and explores re-appropriating jewellery in the formal workplace. Above: Model Mercedes von Thun-Hohenstein wears Yi Wen Lim’s design 
Mono-glass worn by Mercedes von Thun-Hohenstein

Highlights in the collection include the merging of power pearls with everyday work accessories, stationery and tech wearables – these pieces include a biro pen cap ear cuff, Airpods pearl necklace, ID Badge necklace and the Mono-glass with Hair-clip.

Mono-glass by Yi Wen Lim
“The Mono-glass is inspired by work glasses that women wear, sometimes as a means to establish their intelligence and competence,” says the designer. “It is also inspired by tech accessories like the Google Glass, which perhaps can one day be integrated into more ‘aestheticised’ designs like the SOFT POWER Mono-glass,” she explains.
Mono-glass by Yi Wen Lim
Yi Wen Lim’s friend/muse Mercedes von Thun-Hohenstien (www.mercedesvonthun.com) wore the monocle design at the RCA finals presentation in London in June – and immediately caught our eye. “I found her through Instagram @mvthun21,” said Yi Wen Lim. “She is a mature model, and has been very generous with her time and support for me. She has modelled for my presentations and for video and photoshoots. We have become close over the past few months, and we are now great friends.” For more information about Yi Wen Lim’s work visit her page on Instagram – @__wenlim. Other RCA posts on Eyestylist: https://www.eyestylist.com/2016/12/rca-x-100-optical/ CN