My receptor registers annoyance whenever anyone starts up about “the new normal.” I’m not a fan of anything normal be it old OR new. Normal is boring. It never tempts fate and always avoids friction, and both those qualities remain precious since it is in that area of risk and rambunctiousness where true innovation thrives.

I love taking on dares and live for the adventure of constant change in a state of revolution rather than the safer route of evolution. Mire down in a formulaic approach, and there’s a chance that no one will notice or care. I’ve seen this happen with a variety of factions including communication, design, popular culture, style, products, retailing and… (subject at hand) … eyewear.

I entered this opti-scene circa 1996, a time when the rather bland forage of eyewear seemed stunted in this trend of unisex styles. These were frames that could basically be worn by men and women with the main criteria being a spec so bland as to be totally unobtrusive and stripped of personality. The situation with sunwear was somewhat bolder but the buzz for frames seemed focused on these ovoid shapes, many with a tortoise coloration tech built on foiling metals with a bland Havana tone. Is it any wonder then that brands such as l.a.Eyeworks and Lafont stood out blaringly and brilliantly by daring to be anything but… normal. And that sense of being unique via a vintage road map (think Oliver Peoples and Matsuda) rang equally resounding.

I must note that as the years layered on eyewear flexed its daring with a muscle I admire and adore. And… the specs genre continues to resonate with growing facets of drive and provocation. That is easily why I am still here, still fascinated and still overtly fascinated by what keeps getting delivered by the new wave of creative eyewear designers and manufacturers dedicated to doing any and everything beyond the bland state of old or new normal.

This issue of 20/20 timed to herald a new season in eyewear and sunwear is testimony to that sense of optical adventures. Seize the advantage. The eyewear you see on these pages of 20/20 is in a constant battle to do better despite global barriers ranging from material shortages to government regulations and just about every conceivable challenge.

Eyeglasses have become cutting-edge cool. The focus on quality and materials (and sustainability!) is in high gear. Normal be damned. Luxuriate in the growing impact of this ultimate accessory that has the prime ability to help people see better. I’m glad to be here in this bold view of our shared world seeing you make the most of our Opti-Sphere.

James J. Spina
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