It has been said that every cloud has a silver lining, yet there is only one place that you can find Silver Lining Opticians. Nestled in the fashion-driven New York City neighborhood of Soho, the store is the brainchild of optician Erik Sacher and vintage eyewear purveyor Jordan Silver. The two had met at a previous job; Silver was doing a steady business selling Silver Lining Vintage, his vintage eyewear collection, wholesale to high-end department stores and Sacher was already an established optician who also had experience in management at a high-end optical shop.
Joining forces and then opening Silver Lining in 2007, Silver and Sacher created a one-of-a-kind haven for vintage eyewear lovers. “We thought it would be perfect to come together and have the biggest vintage collection on the east coast,” Sacher says. “We wanted to incorporate two things: high-end optical dispensing and vintage glasses.”
Though the owners of Silver Lining strove to provide a vast array of frames they have never sacrificed quality and are quite selective about their inventory. “We wanted to carry brands that were made by eyewear companies, not companies that make handbags or shoes,” says Sacher. “We wanted to get away from the more corporate, mainstream brands and just do original, new condition dead-stock vintage frames. We feel that the quality of vintage glasses is better than a lot of what’s being produced now.” Anglo American, Lafont, Oliver Goldsmith and Japan’s Kame Man Nen are among the thousands of brands offered in-store and on their web site, in iconic shapes made famous by movie legends like Audrey Hepburn and Steve McQueen.
The design aesthetic, both of high-end and vintage, is echoed in the carefully selected furniture and décor. “In early 20th century America, optician and jeweler were one combined profession, so the first piece we bought when we started designing the store was an antique jewelry cabinet with a green marble base, which serves as the front counter,” says Sacher. “After that the design grew organically as we chose pieces that appealed to us—Art Deco and Danish modern furniture styles mixed with vintage ads and album covers. We also never use any company’s point-of-purchase items. Instead, we create our own by finding items that represent the brands displayed, be it a vintage Nikon camera, Dunhill cuff links or Playboy playing cards. The store has a very warm masculine charm.”
The masculine edge of Silver Lining is one element to which Sacher and Silver in part credit their success. “I don’t think there are many shops in New York that cater to men,” says Sacher. “Most eyewear boutiques have a feminine feel and we try to do the opposite. Because of the current craze of big frames and retro styles, half of our clients are women buying men’s frames. We find that our unisex or male-oriented lines are selling equally well to women and men.”
Although the shop has been around just shy of two years, Silver Lining took off immediately. “Jordan and I were able to pool our client books, and because Silver Lining Vintage already had an established business with stores like Jeffrey’s, which largely attracts celebrities, and Bergdorf’s, we were able to have some directional traffic sent our way by sales people and word-of-mouth. We became known from behind-the-scenes by working with some famous makeup artists, hair stylists and photographers.”
Working with the who’s who of Hollywood has led to some A-list clientele. “We’ve worked with [hip hop mogul] Jay-Z—he’s a big vintage collector,” Sacher says. “He picked some styles that he wore on the red carpet and performing with Coldplay at the Grammy’s, which gave us a lot of press. We’re also going to be supplying sunglasses for the new Gossip Girl season.”
A new addition to the store has been particularly popular: Silver Lining’s own brand. Introduced in January, the line has one style with five more to be released in the spring. “I saw it as a natural progression of offering customers a product that is unique to our shop,” says Sacher. “We follow in the tradition of Robert Marc, Selima and Morgenthal Frederics—starting in a shop, doing some business as an optician, learning the business and launching your own line and then growing from there and creating a brand. Retro is very popular now, but we are concentrating on the design being very timeless, not so trendy. We’re using the highest quality German manufacturing. The line has gotten some good press already and we’re selling to some of our high-profile clients and high-profile behind-the-scenes clients.”
A cozy shop tucked down a side street away from much of the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood, Silver Lining has made its presence known. With a steady stream of faithful customers, A-List clientele and enthusiastic reviews in publications such as New York magazine and The New York Times, the store has been quite the success story. “It’s been a whirlwind since we’ve opened.”