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