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Eyewear Designer Q&A: Blake Kuwahara Shares Insight and Guidance for Finding the Perfect Frames

We sit with award winning eyewear designer Blake Kuwahara for a discussion on the do’s and don’ts of eyewear shopping.

Photo of Blake Kuwahara

From a doctorate in optometry, to designing for some of fashion’s major players, to launching his own eyewear line in 2014, Blake Kuwahara is about as well-rounded as they come. A close look at his current line reveals an astounding attention to detail honed by this impressive trajectory.

The double-layer acetate frames take roughly 9 months to produce, and every angle and curvature—not to mention the sharp 45-degree cut at the hinges—is both thoughtful and precise. The line is entirely hand-crafted in Japan, focusing primarily on Blake’s unique frame-in-frame design.

Having operated in multiple facets of the industry, we recently sat down with Blake to discuss the sometimes daunting task of shopping for new eyewear.

Picture of WEBSTER Duo (Black & Brown Horn Suns) eyeglasses

WEBSTER Duo (Black & Brown Horn Suns)  Photo: Courtesy Blake Kuwahara

 After so many years in the business, are there any “rules to live by” when hunting for the perfect pair of glasses?

There are the practical, pragmatic things to look for. Select a pair that is the width of your face, where the center of your pupils are in the center of the frame, the top of the frame follows your brow line, and make sure the frame fits comfortably on the bridge of your nose.

But, we’re also talking about a fashion accessory so select a frame that you FEEL good in; one that fits your lifestyle and goes with your wardrobe.

My advice is to try a few pairs on that might initially be outside your fashion comfort zone. You’ll be surprised how many times people end up selecting a pair of glasses they thought they would never wear.

 

What is the biggest mistake people make when shopping for eyewear?

The biggest no-no for me is when a frame overpowers the face and becomes the first thing that people notice.

Eyewear should enhance your personality—not be a substitute for one.

Photo of MOCKER (Black) eyeglasses

MOCKER (Black)  Photo: Courtesy Blake Kuwahara

Aside from looks, what should people pay the most attention to when trying on potential new frames?

A good pair of eyewear is like a good pair of shoes; it has to fit properly and be comfortable.

Quality, of course, also goes without saying. Eyewear is an investment—especially prescription glasses. Look at the finishing of the frame, the luster of the metal and acetate (frames that are properly hand polished with the right compounds will keep their shine), the robustness of the hinges, and the quality of the sunglass lenses (pay attention to the UV rating, antireflective and antiscratch coatings, etc.).

To me, the “hand” of the frame is critical. The edges should be gently nuanced and feel good to the touch.

 

Are there certain styles or shapes that people in certain professions gravitate to more than others?

I like to think that fashion has become much more elastic, but I would say that there is some truth to the fact that people in more conservative fields wear more conservative glasses, and that creative-types tend to be more adventurous with their choices.

Having said that, I feel that many professions these days—architecture, design, photography, media—have both a creative side as well as a business side to them.

By combining two different silhouettes into one frame, my collection was designed with exactly this kind of individual in mind.

Photo of PALEY (Taupe Sun) eyeglasses

PALEY (Taupe Sun)  Photo: Courtesy Blake Kuwahara

Is there such a thing as glasses which are inappropriate or too outlandish for certain industries? Are you seeing people pushing the boundaries of what they’re wanting to wear from day to day at the office?

Fortunately, I think that in general, people are becoming more adventurous with their clothing and more willing to take risks. But that’s relative of course! “Fashion” is no longer seen as frivolous or vain. It’s an expression of who we are and how we want to represent ourselves.

Eyewear, by definition, is a fashion accessory—and arguably the ultimate fashion accessory since it sits right on the center of your face—so one’s choices do reflect who they are, or the impression of who they want you to think they are.

 

Generally speaking, what ground rules would you set (if any) when it comes to a person’s face shape versus which glasses will suit them the best?

The tried and true “rules” are that frame shapes that are opposite your face shape tend to be more flattering. That is, if you have a rounder face, rectangular and square frames are usually best suited for you.  Likewise, if you have angular features, you might start your search with rounder frames.

And, if you have an oval shaped face, you’re in luck. Anything usually looks good on you!

 

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