State Optical Co., a Chicago-based eyewear company, said today that it launched its fall collection that underscores “classic American styling.” The firm sells its “Made in America” eyewear through its e-commerce platform and to over 500 retailers nationwide. State is the first luxury acetate eyewear manufacturer in the U.S., the company said.
The global eyewear market is projected to reach $165 billion by 2022, according to a report by Global Market Insights. Ninety-five percent of all eyewear is manufactured overseas, with 90 percent hailing from China, said a separate report by the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
Each style in State Optical’s product line is named after various streets in Chicago that served as inspiration for its eyewear designer, Blake Kuwahara. Kuwahara’s design process is rooted in his sense of place, as the products’ descriptions define the connection between State’s aesthetics and the sites of Chicago in explicit detail.
For example, its “Roscoe” style was inspired by Chicago’s Roscoe Village. “If you slow down as you stroll down Roscoe Street, you’ll find hidden gem after hidden gem, from funky shops to delectable restaurants,” Kuwahara said. “Likewise, this style merits slowing down to appreciate the details, namely the complex acetate patterns. Plum and jet mosaics capture light at every angle while the multicolored tide pool and cobalt oxide conjure visions of refined kaleidoscopes.”
All of State Optical’s frames are manufactured in its custom-built factory in Chicago. Each frame takes two weeks to create and is finished via a 75-step process. State Optical’s team has grown to over 50 employees since the company was founded in 2012.
Scott Shapiro, the chief executive officer and cofounder of State Optical, told WWD, “’With our initial releases, it was important for us to draw on classic American styling. The spirit behind State’s designs is now hitting its adolescence — experimenting with more diverse shapes and colors, infusing an even more distinct point of view. This new release further explores our Chicago roots — being literally and figuratively more faceted than previous releases. Chicago provides a rich palette for inspiration, as it’s a city of diverse neighborhoods, all with their own story to tell.”
When remarking on specific styles in the new collection, Shapiro said that “The Morgan is a bit of a design departure for State, as it features bright and soft colors. The key hole bridge balances the otherwise very feminine frame with a little spike of nerd appeal. The Grand is perfectly named. A beautiful and statement-making sunglass that’s classic and bold in surprising mixes. Designed for movie stars only.”
Marc Franchi, the vice president and cofounder of State Optical, added that “The Augusta starts with rich dual-layered acetates and requires very precise carving of the top layer, in order to shape that layer and reveal the layer just below it.”