|Variations in materials and coloration in Alain Mikli’s collections are not defects but the result of handsculpted works of art as illustrated in Style No. AL1102.|
Producing frames by hand is an art form. Here’s how some companies do it.
Like just about everything else that’s manufactured these days, eyeglass frames are mass produced. Even so, a number of companies still use workers to perform hand work on their eyewear products. This “handmade” eyewear sets these companies apart and offers wearers a unique eyewear experience.
DEFINING THE CRAFT
Let’s be clear…making a frame completely by hand is a pretty rare thing. Sure, there are a few doing it around the world, but those products are totally exclusive and very expensive. The term “handmade” for the purposes of this article means that people perform a number of procedures by hand as well as inspections at numerous steps in the manufacturing process. You might call this “machine-assisted handmade eyewear” to more accurately reflect how it’s produced.
Zyl frames are made from cellulose acetate sheets the size of wall paneling. These are manufactured so that they have the colors, textures, etc. the frame manufacturer desires for a particular frame style. The sheets are cut into rectangular blocks, dies then punch out the basic shape of the frame front including the lens areas.
Workers take these flat frame blanks and perform hand shaping, carving, cutting, beveling, etc. on them. The frame fronts now go into tumblers with oils, wood chips, and polishing compounds, which give the frame its luster. Metal frames are assembled by people who solder or weld the components together (depending on the metal used).
|Face à Face’s unisex Calas style is crafted from top-quality acetate.|
All this hand work adds cost to the frame but for some companies, it’s the only way they wish to manufacture a frame. Some have been doing it this way for decades.
WHO’S DOING IT?
Philippine Pinton of François Pinton creates eyewear designs that are two to three years ahead of the mainstream collections you see in magazines and on celebrities. Style No. LOU2 is a design that is very big now. Its simple round shape is a throwback to the ‘70s. The over-arching trend is unisex, but very glamorous.
In his Parisian workshop, Alain Mikli and his craftspeople create innovative products. Variations in the materials and coloration are not defects but the result of handsculpted works of art as illustrated in Style No. AL1102, a beautiful rectangular acetate unisex frame that uses a striated lower rim with a solid upper rim that’s carried through to the temple color.
At MYKITA HAUS, the process is similar to 18th-century manufacturers where everything was made in-house from the first sketch to the final product. The MYKITA MYLON collection projects luxury sports fashion, as illustrated by the huge rectangular Nova sunshield sunglass.
Like an architect, Face à Face works with volumes, shapes, materials, colors, and textures to give its styles the power to express the personality of the wearer. The Calas style is a good example. This unisex style is crafted from top-quality acetate. Its modified pennant shape is accented by rims with a slightly wider endpiece area and notched temples.
If you like what handmade eyewear can offer you, other companies that make frames this way include Lafont, götti, Jee Vice, Jeremy Tarian, Robert Marc, Ogi Eyewear, and ic! berlin america.
Roxanne Armstrong is a licensed optician and owner of Art For Your Face, in McLean, VA.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
Alain Mikli Ltd.
800-829-8032 • mikli.com
Face à Face
888-388-3223 • faceaface-paris.com
800-755-3746 • pinton.fr
407-415-0778 • gotti.ch
ic! berlin america
866-634-8990 • ic-berlin.de
949-542-4841 • jeevice.com
718-288-7085 • jeremytarian.com
800-832-8233 • lafont.com
973-669-0063 • mykita.com
888-560-1060 • ogiframes.com
212-675-5200 • robertmarc.com