Italy has long reigned in the realm of premium eyewear, but a profusion of average frame construction has diminished its reputation among industry experts. Their new darling? Japan, where eyewear manufacturing is concentrated in the Fukui Prefecture. In the small city of Sabae, one in six residents works in the eyewear industry.
Frame production in the region began in the early 20th century, but it was the city’s innovations in titanium during the ‘80s that put Sabae on the map. Today, its factories also offer high-quality acetate construction, premium mineral glass lenses, and nuanced filigree detailing. Though Japan may not produce the same volume touted by Italy or China, an uncompromising attention to detail has made it the first choice of many independent eyewear brands. Frames made there come with a premium price tag, but that’s to be expected given the level of craftsmanship.
David Kind Roman
Made from hand-polished acetate and monel alloy, these sunglasses feature mineral glass polarized lenses with an anti-reflective coating. The temple and bridge showcase custom filigree detailing and the brand offers a 10-year frame warranty.
This pair of aviator sunglasses has a beta titanium frame and polarized CR39 G15 lenses with an inner silver mirror. The titanium temples are flexible, lightweight and more durable than many other options available.
Jacques Marie Mage Jax
A limited release of 400 pairs, this ’50s style frame is made from thick Clear Beige and Light Havana acetate with custom double-laminated acetate temples. The sunglasses feature blue CR39 lenses and 18K gold hardware.
Max Pittion Coleman
These angular aviators feature titanium frames and straight acetate temple tips. The lenses feature a brown gradient and the style includes a Light Brown Sasa brow bar.
Eyevan 7285 756
Featuring light brown curved-glass lenses, the 756 acetate frame includes uniquely shaped flat washer hardware inspired by the zippers of vintage flight jackets. The style also includes metal nose pads and engraved detailing at the temple tips.
A version of this article originally appeared in Issue Six of Gear Patrol Magazine Subscribe today.