When spring and summer roll around, the impulse to add one (or two, or three) new pairs to your eyewear collection is an understandable one—and Robb Report has certainty caught the bug, having covered a new store from Ray-Ban, L.G.R’s 10th anniversary collection, and a fresh collaboration from Morgenthal Fredrics all since the season officially changed. Compounding the desire to add a few new frames to your wardrobe is that sunglasses are one of the easiest ways to experiment with your style: Slide on a wire-framed round pair to channel the Summer of Love, a strong acetate aviators to lean into a masculine look, or an easy pair of notch-bridges for something more classic
Expanding your eyewear wardrobe is also one of the easiest ways to support smaller-scale young brands, many of which employ and protect the time-old traditions of artisanal frame making. One of these brands is Salt.—whose range of sunglasses and optical frames mixes the breezy aesthetic of its Orange County roots with the cutting-edge Japanese Craftsmanship. Long a favorite of specialty opticians for their 100 percent polarized lenses and expertly fit frames, the brand has just launched their own e-commerce platform, making their stylish sunglasses available to buy online for the first time.
To celebrate the milestone, Robb Report sat down with the brand’s head designer David Rose to discuss why Japanese craftsmanship really does make all of the difference and, of course, how to buy the perfect pair of sunglasses online.
Tell us about your history. How did you get into the eyewear business?
I used to do a little bit of surfing and traveling the world, and when I stopped back into [Orange County], I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. A friend of mine offered me a job working the warehouse of an eyewear company, and I fell in love.
It was just so interesting to see all the shapes, colors, styles, materials, and different brands. I started learning everything I could—picking and packing, adjusting frames, production. And then I got into manufacturing and designing. It was all very on-the-job training.
What is your approach when it comes to designing Salt.’s frames?
Well for me, everything fits first. You can have the most well-designed frames out there, but if they don’t fit, it is kind of all for not. I want the frames to be as comfortable as possible—so that they are not sliding down your face or putting pressure back in your temporal area.
All of Salt.’s frames are made in Japan. What makes the Japanese manufacturing process so special?
Being a younger brand, we don’t necessarily have heritage, right? But we’ve been very fortunate to work with third generation [Japanese] manufactures that have access to some of the old machines from way back when, so we can really get the heritage from that side of it. You get a very special attention to detail from Japanese manufactures. They’re not in the business to just push material through machines and get it out the door. There is a craft to what they do—it is a 130-step process to manufacture a frame—and they’ve been doing it for such a long time. So you end up with a quality pair of frames that are going to last.
What frames are your favorite at the moment?
It’s hard to pick, but I think my favorite model [at the moment] is the Lopez sunglasses ($430) in Cognac with polarized G15 lenses. [I also like the] Reiner ($430). It’s a mix of vintage and modern, with a little bit of Americana eased into it.
Do you have any tips for buying sunglasses online?
For me, eyewear should be fun. You should try multiple pairs on, and shouldn’t always follow the fit guides. I mean there is something to them, but to me, it is always just about having fun and exploring. Explore eyewear, try different shapes, and different materials. Don’t limit yourself to what the guide says because you may find something that suits you a lot better—suits your style and the makeup of who you are.