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For Tokyo’s fashion set, a well-crafted look is often all about the details, right down to prescription eyewear they might change on a daily basis. Lunettes du Jura, a Japanese retailer specializing mostly in niche European eyewear brands, has been catering to this demanding clientele for 25 years.
This story first appeared in the February 24, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Lunettes du Jura, which counts three locations in Tokyo and one in the nearby city of Yokosuka, takes its name from the mountainous French region famous for producing high-quality eyewear. The main flagship, in the Gaienmae neighborhood, near the Aoyama district, covers a selling space of about 2,260 square feet; the other stores are smaller. The chain shuns standard designer names like Chanel and Gucci in favor of smaller brands, mainly from France but also from elsewhere in Europe. It also stocks some Japanese and American brands.
The store’s inventory includes items such as natural buffalo-horn frames (which retail for around 150,000 yen, or about $1,475) by German brand Hoffman and brightly colored specs in funky shapes by Traction Productions of France. Most retail prices range from 20,000 yen (about $197) to 60,000 yen ($592).
Other brands on its stock list include Hoet, J.F. Rey, Reiz, Frances Klein, Mykita, Face à Face, Frost and Kirk Originals.
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“Eyeglasses are an element of fashion,” said Fumio Suto, Lunettes du Jura’s representative director. “By putting [functional] lenses in a pair of [our] glasses, people can have fun with them, and I think there’s still a big market for that.”
Suto said he believes many of his customers own several pairs of glasses, and some even change them every day to match their clothing or mood, just as they would any other accessory. But those who shop at Lunettes du Jura often have one thing in common: They want to be unique.
“We used to get people asking what was most popular, and then they would say, ‘OK, then I don’t need that.’ So now we make recommendations based on what suits the customer, rather than what is selling well,” Suto said, adding that the store doesn’t have any particular bestsellers as each customer wants something different.
When the first store opened, it carried many brands that couldn’t be found elsewhere in Japan, but now many of these labels have grown to have a wider distribution network. Still, Suto noted that Lunettes du Jura’s customers will often go to great lengths to get the frames they want, and they expect the store to do the same.
“We have people who check our blog every day, and if they see something they like, they’ll come to the shop the very next day or soon after — even from places outside of the city,” he said. “And if we don’t have a particular frame in the color they want, for example, we will order it for the customer, even just one piece.”