For Yours Eyes Only: Hot Eyewear from Charlotte Jones
What is so alluring about a bespectacled man? Marilyn Monroe said it best in "Some Like it Hot." "I want mine to wear glasses. Men who wear glasses are so much more gentle and sweet..." says Monroe’s character Sugar Kane Kowalczyk.
With the end of the year approaching, now is the time to take advantage of your flex spending dollars and invest in that perfect set of glasses to set your style apart from the pack. EDGE sat down for a 20/20 conversation with Charlotte Jones of Charlotte Jones Opticians, an exclusive eyewear boutique that recently opened in New York City’s gayborhood of Hell’s Kitchen.
Jones brings more than 20 years of experience to her first solo venture via stints in Ghana and London. Having worked for major eyewear companies, Jones wanted to showcase top-of-the-line designers but knew Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue were choked. "I hang here a lot and this [neighborhood] feels like home to me. It’s the heart of New York in New York."
Tips of the Trade
Charlotte Jones offers these suggestions when looking for your next pair of eyeglasses:
Size Does Matter - "Face shape is very important. Coloring and complexion is also important. People see eyewear as utilitarian, but you care when you put on clothes and the same should be said for your glasses. It’s the first thing that people see."
Versatility Isn’t Just for the Bedroom - "Your glasses should fit your lifestyle. If you only have one pair, you should be able to wear them with a suit, business casual, or hanging out with your friends on the weekend. But I suggest two pairs of glasses minimum. You don’t have one pair of shoes!"
Save the Glare for That Bitch Who Stole Your Cab - "It’s imperative that you get anti-reflective coating. It’s standard in Europe but here in the U.S. people think it’s an upsell but it’s not. Your natural eye wasn’t designed to produce glare, so you need a coating for that protection. It also improves the way you see by approximately eight percent."
All Frames Are Not Alike
Over the past several years, Luxottica Group has increasingly monopolized the eyewear industry. With more than 7,100 retail stores throughout the world, the company has snatched up well-known brands like Ray-Ban, Oliver Peoples, and Persol, along with licensed entities such as Chanel, Versace, and Prada, just to name a few. "60 Minutes" recently ran a profile piece on the company, implying that the stronghold is dictating both cost and fashion trends.
Enter bespoke designers and small businesses like Charlotte Jones Opticians who stand behind them. Jones features an array of unique collections that range anywhere from $199 to $1,000. Many of these frames are handcrafted using top-of-the-line materials like titanium and high-grade plastics.
See and be Seen
Here is a roundup of Charlotte Jones’ favorite designers and what makes them stand out from the pack:
The first eyewear company based out of Istanbul, Turkey, RVS frames are handmade and known for their matte finishes. Colors can be custom-combined to create a "classic cool" look to last a lifetime.
Named GQ’s 2008 Designer of the Year, Browne launched his unisex eyewear collection in 2011. Retro influences, unique tortoise coloration, and 12-karat gold-plated frames are among the many highlights-all finished with his signature red, white, and blue temple tip.
Designer Sheila Vance capitalizes on interesting color combinations to create unique frames and uses the profits to fund the impetus for the company: The Sam Vance Foundation, whose mission is to prevent drug use amongst teens and young adults.
Inspired by vintage frames from the 50s through the 80s (yes, the 80s are now vintage), co-founders Jeff Solorio and John Juniper have been on the scene since 1996. The Los Angeles-based designers are considered to be some of the most influential in the world.
Zero G Titanium
Cut from a single sheet of surgical-grade titanium, these frames are 40 percent lighter than stainless steel but 100 percent more cool.
Gold and Wood
Using natural materials like wood, buffalo horn, solid gold, and gemstones, this unusual collection is manufactured in Luxemburg and practices sustainable development including trees certified by the Forest Stewardship Council - one tree can yield up to 1,000 eyeglass temples.
Made in the U.S.A., this brand mixes modern and retro styles, and with 50 styles from which to choose, you’re bound to find the perfect fit.
Belgians Michel Henau and Marc Delagrange began collaborating in the 1970s, creating edgy, colorful, and whimsical collections. Today, the brand’s unique style can be found in 20 countries worldwide, but only through a highly curated network of independent opticians.
Where to Buy
Charlotte Jones Opticians
676 9th Avenue, NYC, 10036