November 22, 2013
Lately (really the past 5 years) I’ve been wondering who makes glasses (frames/eyeglasses) in the USA. I found some and then found a whole lot more interesting things about glasses history. This always happens when I’m looking up things and it makes it harder for me to figure out what to say when there’s so much (sorta) related to one topic. But my blog can’t possibly tell you everything I found otherwise I wouldn’t get any work done. I’ll just start by listing a bunch of websites where you can find some of these frames and you can try those if you want.
First though, who is allowed to say their frames are made in the USA? Well, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) can explain that better. The FTC says to qualify as American made, the product must be “all or virtually all” made in the USA. Most products made in the USA do not have to say they are made here except for a few things like cars, textiles, furs or wool. American marketers have lately been promoting that more of their products are made here. There is another category that companies use called “assembled in the US.” Obviously the parts can come from other countries and all that needs to be done here in the US is the turning of a screw.
When it comes to frames though it’s just hard to buy American unless you go way out of your way. You may spend a whole lot more money (not always the case though) too. The local representatives from frame companies that come to my office sell mainly frames made in China because I’m sure it costs them less and I know they usually cost me less, even the ones with popular brand names on them. A few times we may buy frames originating from another country (Italy, Germany, Japan and Denmark) but that’s not as common as frames made in the far east.
I have noticed that some websites that sell prescription glasses directly to the public advertise that their lab might be in the US. I noticed one of these websites had USA in their website URL. That’s not the same as the frames being manufactured in the US but they are marketing themselves as a US product. That’s fine (maybe not with the FTC) but the frames they sell are probably made in China and there’s a chance the lenses were molded there as well. The only thing they might have done is cut the lenses and put them in the frame here in the US.
On to glasses made in the US and starting with the more expensive ones:
- http://superfocus.com these are not fashionable but are unique in that the power is adjustable ($1000 ?)
- http://www.rareframes.com/collection.html classy style and I’m just guessing expensive
- http://www.indivijual.com/ordering.htm very expensive
- http://www.rareframes.com/collection.html $1800 or more
- http://www.drifteyewear.com/ a bit more reasonable ($600 perhaps), made of wood if that’s important to you
Now here’s some US frame manufacturers that I might contact because their frames fit my business (lower cost):
- http://www.shuron.com/index.htm well, some are ok styles, making glasses since 1865!
- http://www.kalaeyewear.com/ there are nice looking designs here, I like that camo one called Hixx.
- http://allynscura.com/collections/all there’s a huge assortment of styles, vintage never worn glasses too! Allyn Scura branded frames are made in Japan though.
- http://www.artcraftoptical.com/products/dress/dress.htm they’ve been around a long time too.
- http://www.shwoodshop.com/# sunglasses made out of wood, except the lenses 🙂
- http://www.weareqo.com/ more sunglasses and made out of skateboards
If you’ve never checked out the website etsy.com you might find some interesting frames there. Type in eyeglasses in their search box and you’ll get a whole bunch of custom made frames and plenty of different styles including vintage glasses.
I’ve got more websites I found of much smaller custom manufacturers but the list isn’t really very long for US made frames. Maybe one day we’ll be able to make our own frames though. I did see one website where they use a 3D printer to make glasses.
If you have an American made pair of glasses, I’m impressed! Here’s one brand that used to be made in the US, Oakley,but their ophthalmic/dress frames are now made somewhere else.
Here’s an interesting website with a lot of historical info: