The Matsuda story is the perfect marriage of tradition and transformation. Originally operating as a high-end fashion label, the glasses brand transitioned in the late 1980s to become one of the premier eyewear brands. But what is it, exactly, that makes the Matsuda brand so special?
The Fascinating Story of Matsuda Eyewear
The Matsuda eyewear brand did not originate as an eyewear enterprise at all. Launched as Nicole Co. in 1967 by Tokyo-born Mitsuhiro Matsuda, the brand was originally a high-end fashion house. Matsuda’s fashion designs, which drew inspiration from sources as diverse as the architecture of Paris and the techniques of Tokyo’s famed Bunka design school, quickly won acclaim.
As a fashion designer, Matsuda’s aesthetic was strongly informed by his love of art deco styling, his fascination with industrial metals deriving from the 19th century, and his attraction to Gothic cathedral architecture. The result is an eclectic blend of style statements that celebrities were unable to resist and fashion critics were unable to praise highly enough.
From Nicole Co.’s Tokyo headquarters, Matsuda brought Japanese design to the forefront of the elite world of high fashion. As a member of the so-called Tokyo Design 6, he was instrumental in founding the illustrious Tokyo Fashion Week.
But Matsuda ultimately found that clothing design was not the only domain where his design passions lay. Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, Matsuda and his innovative designers were experimenting with eyewear design. In so doing, they drew extensively on Japan’s rich history of craftsmanship and trailblazing design.
And, thus, a unique eyewear brand was born. For more than two decades, Matsuda eyewear was a must-have accessory for Hollywood elites and high fashion connoisseurs. After a brief withdrawal from the market, the Matsuda brand was reintroduced in 2012 under the leadership of James Kingsen, former sales director for Cartier.
Matsuda’s second act has constituted an reaffirmation of the aesthetic and artisanal commitments on which the brand was based: a dedication to superb craftsmanship, incomparable quality, and designs that unite tradition and transformation to create truly breathtaking innovation.
Matsuda Eyewear: Looking to the Past to Craft the Future
The introduction of the first Matsuda eyewear collection in 1989 quickly won the interest of fashion aficionado, celebrities, and artists the world over. In the coming decades, Matsuda eyewear would be featured widely on fashion runways, Hollywood red carpets, and the silver screen alike.
Beginning in the 1990s, Matsuda shades were a staple of Hollywood costume design. The brand has appeared in a wide array of iconic late-century films, from Beetlejuice to the Terminator film series.
In addition to being a Hollywood and high fashion darling, the brand has also been enthusiastically embraced by the global art community. In the late 1990s, Matsuda collaborated with famed photographer, Nan Goldin, to produce Goldin Meets Yukio Kobayashi, which received an award from the illustrious Art Directors Club of New York.
The allure of Matsuda eyewear is no mystery. It derives from centuries of tradition evolving from the heart and home, Sabae-Fukui, Japan. The traditions of these master craftsmen are combined with the eclectic aesthetic interests of Matsuda’s original founder and namesake.
The result is a captivating amalgamation of past, present, and future. Matsuda designs pay homage to yesterday while always looking ahead to all the tomorrows to come. Take, for example, the stunning 10601H design. Aptly described as “nu-vintage,” the design features the classic styling of a simple round lens with a clean wire frame. These are augmented with innovative flourishes that make the design distinctly, unquestionably modern.
And then there’s the truly fashion-forward, M3104-C, with its unique octagonal shape and floating lens design. The frames are ornamented with metal flourishes that echo the botanical shapes of leaves and petals. The result is a hybrid of the contemporary and industrial and the traditional and organic.
Unparalleled Craftsmanship, Unique Designs
As a Japanese brand, Matsuda eyewear was born, came of age, and continues to flourish at the epicenter of eyewear design. The Matsuda brand has always taken that storied tradition very seriously, embracing the highest standards of craftsmanship.
Every Matsuda frame is made by hand, using a painstaking process encompassing more than 250 steps from start to completion. This laborious process of handcrafting every Matsuda frame falls to an elite cadre of 13 master artisans based in Sabae, who may invest as many as two years to crafting a single frame.
And what this means is that every pair of Matsuda sunglasses and prescription eyewear is the product of an average of 71 hours of labor, more than five decades of design innovation, and generation after generation of artisanal tradition. This can be seen, for example, in the exquisite attention to detail evident in every frame, from Matsuda’s signature side shields to its groundbreaking pince-nez designs. Matsuda’s craftsmen are truly the artists and architects of eyewear design.
High Quality, Environmentally-Friendly Materials
Given the Matsuda brand’s unsurpassed reputation for excellence, it’s perhaps not surprising that its eyewear is constructed of only the finest, earth-friendly materials. The Matsuda brand is particularly renowned for its metalwork, inspired in large part by the founder’s love of industrial design and his fascination with 19th century metals. In keeping with the brand’s unparalleled commitment to quality, all Matsuda metal frames, hinges, and other components are constructed from premium metals. This includes titanium, surgical grade stainless steel, sterling silver, and 18k gold. The result is a design that is stylish, sleek, luxurious, and miraculously durable.
In addition to the use of ultra high quality metals, Matsuda acetate frames are handcrafted from a unique type of organic acetate generally known as “Japanese acetate.” These acetates are derived from earth-friendly plastics created principally from cotton. Produced through an elaborate three month curing process, Japanese acetate is renowned for its extraordinary richness of coloration, its remarkable durability, and its incomparably soft and lightweight feel.
But the materials used in Japanese acetate are only part of the story. Not only do Matsuda artisans select only the highest quality of earth friendly acetates for use in their designs, but they also follow a specialized process for polishing and sculpting their acetates. This process is delegated only to specially trained artisans following a decade-long apprenticeship in this rare and difficult skill.
If you’re interested in adding one of the Matsuda brand’s unique and ultra-high quality designs to your eyewear collection, stop by the twelvesixtynine boutique or contact our expert team of stylists today. We look forward to helping you find the perfect Matsuda shade for your individual, incomparable style.