Framed Up

06.06.2011

STYLE

“We lose a lot of business doing what we do,” says Jordan Silver, co-owner of New York’s Silver Lining Opticians referring to the ten people that come in off the street each day looking to buy Wayfarer sunglasses. “We have Ray-Ban Wayfarers – but they’re 30 years old and $850.”

Silver Lining’s Thompson street boutique is a mecca of vintage and independent eyewear. Along with partner Erik Sacher, the duo purveys iconic frames to a discerning list of clients that include dozens of stylists, athletes, rappers, and designers. The glasses in Silver Lining are undoubtedly cool – vintage folding Persols a la Steve McQueen, bright white Balenciaga’s from the 1970s, lines from the likes of Maserati and Jaguar, and even frames from the short-lived Playboy brand of sunglasses. But there is a rhyme to the reason behind which frames are selected to be sold in this cult boutique – they are all independently manufactured.

Silver compares the eyewear industry to that of Swiss watches “People know that when you’re buying a Patek Philippe, you’re getting a movement that came from Patek Philippe – and they are happy to pay that premium.” On the contrary, the reigning force of Italian conglomerate Luxottica, which now owns Ray-Ban, Persol, Oakley, Mosley Tribes, and even Oliver Peoples, dominates eyewear. In addition to these “house brands”, Luxottica owns the licensing rights to a shocking amount of designer frames including Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Bulgari, Ferragamo, Versace, and many more. This means that no matter whose frame you are buying at what price, they are all coming from Luxottica.

At Silver Lining, you won’t see frames from any of these brands, at least since Luxottica bought them. Sure, you’ll find vintage Persols back from when they were independently held (including some original folding frames from the Arabic market designed by Ratti, who was to Persol what Pininfarina was to Ferrari), and the Ray-Bans you’ll find were made in upstate New York by Bausch & Lomb. Silver and Sacher source the vintage finds from former distributors, every piece you’ll find in the store are completely unworn – a rarity in the vintage eyeglass game.

Sitting next to the cases of vintage glasses are dozens of modern pieces from brands like RBS, Barton Perreira and VUE DC – all of which are completely independent from Luxottica and manufactured without any licensing at all. Silver and Sacher have also launched their own line of independently crafted frames inspired by some of the classics – all are handmade in Germany.

Some of the frames in Silver Lining Opticians may look familiar to you, but that’s just because so many brands have used these original designs as inspiration for modern collections over the years. The question then becomes, do you want to be part of the original group, or do you want be part of the cover band?

  • http://twitter.com/dysfashional tilda donner

    Vintage Laura Biagiotti frames are such a fave of mine!

  • http://twitter.com/al_binLADEN Ġhost

    The ones in the first picture are crazy, if they put it up on eBay I’d cop… but that would be a difficult task considering the tons of other people who also would want to make the purchase.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_D4JDU4ASDCPXTIYGYBQRBVGKSY Kelly

    I truly adore Laura Biagiotti’s glasses. Maybe I’ll look into purchasing a pair for my mom.

  • Anonymous

    Everyone should own at least one nice pair of glasses because it just adds personality to an outfit and gives a certain look of sophistication to a person overall look. Forget the prescription or the stereotype associated with the average four-eyed so called geek. Adding a pair of glasses is like any other accessory, it provides flavor and a little extra charm to your get up. Definitely, I’m on that, but I would have to cop Nicole Miller when I decide to go designer because she is someone I whose trends I follow. Peek-a-boo

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/London-Renee/1840557653 London Renee

    I OWN THREE PAIRS OF VINTAGE LAURA BIAGIOTTI FRAMES.LOVE MY GLASSES AN LOVE MY VINTAGE TEAM!

  • http://twitter.com/boardroombboys Ronald Gaineous

    I love vintage joints too, but to compare to a Patek Philippe, although I get the reference trying to be made, is damn near a SIN!

    EVERY man should splurge on a luxury watch @ least once in his life. It is almost a right of passage in my eyes. I remember when I bought my first Breitling (my fav thus far), then Bell & Ross, the Rolex, I’m still working towards the Patek. That is the ultimate prize.

    Go ahead and splurge on the Mrs. while you’re @ it and bring her home a vintage Cartier time piece.

    “Cop you 1 cop me 1 too”…

  • http://twitter.com/iLiveonVenus Poison Eye Ve

    Glasses are like tattoos another form of expression Vintage is always a go

  • http://twitter.com/iLiveonVenus Poison Eye Ve

    Glasses are like tattoos another form of expression Vintage is always a go

  • http://twitter.com/higolz teresa maultsby

    like

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_USW6EKBK6C5B5GEHW3UGOOH25M Justin Chaitoo

    so so hot the what they cost will you and want you will be alb to get it dark one really hot kick in the sun if make more they would be cool

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