Deep-dish pizza, the blues and STATE Optical Co. all call the Windy City home. Discover what’s behind this U.S.-made brand.
In 2012, cousins Marc Franchi and Jason Stanley traveled the world and scoured the U.S. for the right approach and technology to create high-quality eyewear. A short time later, they met Scott Shapiro and Jerry Wolowicz, who were looking to create a U.S.-based luxury eyewear brand. The two pairs teamed up and a company was born. The name conveys that the frames are not only made here in the U.S. but also that the founders are disrupting the ‘STATE’ of eyewear manufacturing. There are 30 Chicago-based craftspeople who follow a process of about 70 steps as they create each frame. About half of this process is done by hand.
Industry legend Blake Kuwahara is the driving force behind the distinct aesthetic of STATE Optical Co. Each of the 12 styles is named for a Chi-town street, and on each frame, the logo on the temple tip comprises 21 dots (drilled and then filled by hand with a clear epoxy), a proud acknowledgement of Illinois being the 21st state in the Union.
Key styles include Burnham, Halsted, LaSalle, Logan, Sheridan and Wolcott. Burnham’s sharp lines are inspired by the designs of Chicago architect David Burnham, while the bold colors and standout shape of Halsted represent the diversity found for the length of that frame’s namesake street. LaSalle is a classic cat eye, and Logan features slightly rounded corners.
Frame details, including the Made in the USA marking, are laser etched and filled. STATE frames are all made with Mazzucchelli acetate and feature a proprietary hinge that is custom made by OBE in Germany.
ECPs who carry this collection receive a banner and a display that demonstrates three stages of acetate production. The culmination of the process shown is a finished frame.
Rachel Bozek is a freelance writer who includes the optical field as one of her areas of expertise.