Finding the perfect eyewear, connecting with humanity
I love a good pair of eye glasses. I find glasses are the most convenient means to express your personality and change your look given their prominence front and center on your face.
Patrick Fenton, founder of design house Swayspace, only buys glasses from a particular store in Turin, Italy, where he trust their taste. And they do have good taste.
William McQuillan, a venture capitalist, sports spectacles where one side is round and the other side is square. You’re thinking that must be quite distracting. But it works for him, as you can see.
With friends with such killer style, I had my work cut out for me to find the next pair to embody my style for this time and place. I was convinced that my next pair would be Jacques Marie Mage. If you're in the know, in this micro-sector of eyewear aficionados, you would know that JMM is one of the hottest brands in eyewear these days and that they've hit it out of the park with their branding.
They have descriptions like this one: Oversized, blocky, and bold the Enzo is inspired by the iconic frames worn by il Commandantori himself, Mr. Enzo Ferrari, founder of the automobile marque that bears his family name. A powerful frame for a powerful personality, these shades hide your sins from the world while giving you the will to command.
The Enzo. That’s where my head was at. Let’s go fierce. But it wasn’t to be.
First problem is that finding Jacque Marie Mage frames is a challenge. Supply is limited, stock is low, and they eyewear brand-retailer relationship seems highly arcane. You might find one frame in one color at one store, but that's all they've got. No way to order more or predict when a frame might come in. This is the way with this segment of the market.
My strategy? I found my way to Silver Linings in SoHo. It was by appointment only. Which I liked.
I walked in and reached for the biggest, boldest set I could find.
‘No, no!’ the store proprietor exclaimed as he swatted them out of my hands.
‘But…But… I like them. These are bold and powerful.’ I countered.
‘Sure. Those aren’t for you.’ co-founder and owner Jordan stated. That's him below.
Alright, alright, I’ll go with it.
This is part of the glasses shopping experience, after all. Let someone size you up, examine your face, and guide you to the perfect pair for this time in your life. And by a professional who clearly took his glasses seriously. ‘I can’t let you go out with those, I have a reputation to uphold’ Jordan reinforced.
The value proposition of a glasses shop should be that the purveyor has good taste and you have aligned interests. First value add is from their curation of supply. And second is wise counsel to help you avoid making a tactical mistake. Most stores, sadly, do not live up to this promise. Jordan did.
So, through a process of iteration that resembled that of an optometrist (‘which is better no 3 or no 4?’), we arrived at a pair of Japanese Masunaga's in tortoise shell. Not too far from what I already had, but definitely an upgrade.
‘There. Those look pretty’, he said.
‘Pretty’ would never cross my lips as the descriptor, but I was pleasantly satisfied, perhaps even excited schlepping black home.
As Jordan was ringing me up, we started talking about marketing, entrepreneurship, venture capital and newsletter writing. His operation has claims to fame, like supplying Bill Gates with a pair of glasses. Jordan pulled up his favorite newsletter, SIC Weekly, and said it had the best links and marketing. I hadn't heard of it and eagerly took the recommendation.
I subscribed to SIC, and it's great. I recommend it to you. But the best part was that once I subscribed, writer Ben Dietz sent an instant reply: "forgive the reply-guy-ness of this but just wanted to say I’m a fan of your newsletter and I’m glad you’re here."
Wow! I'm glad I'm here too. :)
As we emerge from Covid, at last, remember to escape the world of algorithms and impersonal advertising. I'm excited to find the personal connect and let individuality and creativity win the day.