"We’re a holistic brand, we’re designers. Our brand is real. We are inspired by a place, and the people that work on and wear the brand are our KREWE. We create products that inspire us rather than creating for trends, and that’s what customers respond to. They are able to find products that represent them with us. Stay safe. Be kind to yourself and others. The future is bright.”
–Stirling Barrett, founder and creative director of KREWE
SOARING INTO SPRING
A champagne acetate frame with amber lenses is the perfect spring sunglass to take us into warmer weather and sunnier days ahead.
FRANKLIN from KREWE
"For the past 30 years, Modo has designed frames with an independent and innovative spirit. This spirit has allowed our company to evolve while keeping an identity to who we are and perhaps just as important, continuing to meet the needs of our independent ECP accounts.”
–Rebecca Giefer, CEO, Modo Americas
The subtle gradient blend from taupe to purple to orange combines a rich coloring with the lightweight paper-thin feel Modo excels at.
MODO 467 from Modo
"I believe consumers want to connect with independently made products that have a real and true story behind them. For us, it’s always been about strong relationships and the people behind the brand; from the hands making the product to those selling it because they fell in love with it. Consumers appreciate the stories and are looking for products that feel good in their hands, especially when you can show them who made them and where.”
–Ilario Sfoggia, CEO, Villa Eyewear
ROUND & RETRO
Sleek black acetate and round oversized lenses create an understated “wow” factor for this independent brand inspired by Africa.
L.G.R Lalibela from Villa Eyewear
"Wherever I travel in the world, I blend in with the style and culture of that particular place. My frames are designed to do the same; absorb the personal style of the wearer. Think of them as a chameleon in their own right. Universally able to fit in.”
–Todd Berberian, founder and designer of Todd Rogers Eyewear
There’s Todd Rogers… the eyewear; Todd Rogers… the opti-retailing pro: AND Todd Rogers… Berberian… the actual person. And every one of these “Todds” declares Independence with a warm sense of understanding as to just what’s exactly needed when it comes to frames and… friends.
–James J. Spina
THE BLAIR from Todd Rogers Eyewear
PHOTO: Jennifer Casey Photography
"Community is everything. Local communities are supporting their independent stores. Neighbors are supporting each other. We can struggle as independents but we are stronger if we struggle together. Let’s work together; from wearer to designer, to manufacturer, to retailer, to trade show… Let’s work together.”
–Jason Kirk, founder of Kirk & Kirk
There seems to be a secret and unique inner illumination to each and every K&K frame. Faces light up, and in a wonderful way, both the frame and the person framed share in the resulting powerful and enlightened personality. Confident, bold and yet impeccably good mannered and charmingly subtle… just like Jason Kirk.
–James J. Spina
MARK from Kirk & Kirk
"First and foremost, my daily concern is putting my company in the best position financially to make it through this crisis and live on forever in, what is sure to be a different future. Honestly, right now I’m in survival mode, like all independent entrepreneurs. The eyewear industry is fortunate and unique because corrective vision is a medical necessity. Just be good to your patients, and they will continue to support you for generations to come.”
–Garrett Leight, founder of Garrett Leight California Optical
With a west coast vibe at its forefront, Garrett Leight exudes luxury and authenticity with its classic eyewear shapes and styles.
BROOKS X SUN from Garrett Leight California Optical
PHOTO: Garrett Leight California Optical
"The global and universal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic caught us all off guard. It has upended businesses and lives. What hasn’t surprised me is the outreach of support from our customers, clients and even competitors. We have an amazing community. Together we’ll get through this.”
–Blake Kuwahara, founder of Blake Kuwahara
Ever the wearable art maestro, Blake Kuwahara continues to dazzle our eyes with simple yet striking designs. This geometric shaped sunglass with tiny slivers of cutouts on the outer corners and lenses “suspended” in clear crystal give negative space new meaning.
LUTYNES from Blake Kuwahara
PHOTO: Philip Harvey
"As an independent manufacturer, we are fortunate to have the right conditions to secure our processes, and I feel like recent events have brought us even closer as a company. From a product perspective, we have set the right course portfolio: Longevity and added functional value in the products will play an even greater role in purchasing behavior as a result of the current situation.”
–Moritz Krueger, founder of Mykita
With materials and construction at the heart of its design and production philosophy, Mykita draws its independent spirit from its hometown of Berlin, Germany, where all Mykita frames are created. This square/round sunglass from the Lite Acetate collection features stainless steel and slender acetate for a refined material mix offering supreme lightweight comfort.
LENNARD from Mykita
PHOTO: Mark Borthwick
"We believe an event such as this pandemic will drive consumers to quality non-disposable products, whether that be eyewear or otherwise. Independent retailers will play an important role in this expedited transition because with higher quality and more expensive purchases, consumers expect a higher level of service, and with eyewear, that can really only be done in person.”
–Gerard Masci, co-founder of Lowercase
Constructed with eye-catching acetate in an oval shape, this sunglass from Lowercase puts a strong emphasis on independent branding and Made in America products.
OPAL from Lowercase
PHOTO: Jace Lumley
"It’s a frame. With a clip-on. I’m sure you’ve seen a million. But this one was handcrafted in Los Angeles. At the Dom Vetro factory. It’s packed with conviction, passion and a relentless pursuit of excellence. That frame has a soul and a story. And the person wearing it does too.”
–Ashley Bezamat, founder of Dom Vetro
SEE TO SHINING SEE
With a design heritage rooted in the Italian Alps, Dom Vetro founder Ashley Bezamat brings handcrafted artisan eyewear stateside to his hometown Los Angeles factory. This champagne optical style with matching sun clip channels monochromatic cool from Venice Beach to New York City streets.
CAPRETTA from Dom Vetro
"The Design Eyewear Group is committed to our valued partners’ safety, success and ongoing prosperity. The recent unavoidable events have challenged everyone, yet we remain positive, strong and are excited to begin servicing our customers when the proper authorities deem it safe. Our Americas Sales Organization remains unchanged, robust in spirit and resilient in nature. Together, we will overcome and emerge even stronger.”
–Jonathon Berke, VP of Sales & Marketing - Americas, Design Eyewear Group
The angled transparent crystal detailing on the upper corners transforms this tortoise frame into a chic statement piece.
FACE A FACE Freez 2 from Design Eyewear Group
"As we are living through this pandemic, we are seeing real support from humanity. During this time, supporting each other, finding new ways to help and service each other, and being independent is more important than ever. Europa has been doing this since 1977, and it is truly embedded in our company DNA. I dream of a time where big brands and big box stores will start thinking like independents—after all, we are all in this together.”
–Nico Roseillier, Creative Director, Europa and State Optical
THE CURRENT STATE
Eye am made here in Chicago. Eye speak for my craftsmen and women. Eye sing for my sales reps and staunchly Independent retail supporters. Eye look on my wearer and hope they are as proud of me as Eye am of them. Understated? Yes, but with quirks and charisma. That’s the perfect State of Mine.
–James J. Spina
CICERO from State Optical
"As the world returns to normal, we look forward to fully re-engaging in our mission of providing the best in class eyewear products and services. All our employees, especially our reps, are eager to serve you using creative approaches to meet the new market challenges and demands head on!”
–Steve Wright, President and Chief Commercial Officer, Safilo North America
Since 1956, Carrera has created a name for itself not only in the sport category, but also as a lifestyle brand creating both sunwear and optical frames that cater to all eyewear needs.
CARRERA 228 from Safilo
The toughest decisions are so often the ones of inner and solo self.
Those times where there is no preceding solution and no chance for predictable renewal with the best viable route
being something completely new.
Something completely on the cutting edge of Independent thinking.
That time… is now.
Look to the efforts of these Independent Eyewear purveyors.
Consider their bold insight.
Depend on their vision, their eyewear, their daring.
These are powerful POVs…
Energizing Points of Vision.
–James J. Spina