What does it mean to be an independent eyewear designer? Why does it matter that you’re manufacturing your designs in small batches rather than in massive volumes? Is the difference merely one of scale or is there something more at stake?
At twelvesixtynine, we believe it’s the latter. In fact, we know it is. We’ve seen it. And that is why Twelvesixtynine was created in the first place.
The twelvesixtynine mission is both simple and ambitious. We seek nothing less than to resist the tide of mass production in high end eyewear. We seek to stand in the breach between the consumers who expect excellence in the products they buy and producers and retailers who rely on high production volumes and breakneck speeds to maximize profits.
That’s why we partner not with the mass, and massive, producers, but with independent designers and manufacturers to provide only the highest quality and most innovative eyewear on the market.
At this point, though, you may be wondering why you should care? What it even means to be an independent designer? And what’s in it for you as a consumer when you support the independents?
Well, quite a lot, as it turns out. Because when you support an independent designer and manufacturer, three things are going to happen: 1) you’re going to get a product crafted to withstand the test of time through superior build quality, 2) you’re going to get the most unique and original designs available anywhere, no worries about seeing every Tom, Dick, and Harry sporting the same shades you’ve invested in, and 3) you’re saving the planet.
While far too many of the big brands are engaging in practices that ravage the environment simply to maintain their massive production volumes, the independents are doing the reverse. They’re crafting unique products in small batches in order to minimize the impact on the earth while maximizing quality and style for the customer.
This article takes a deep dive into the question of what it means to be an independent designer and manufacturer. It also answers the question of why Twelvesixtynine teams only with these independents in order to offer the most innovative, well-crafted, ultra-stylish, and highly sustainable products around. Simply put, this article shows you why twelvesixtynine supports and cherishes its independent designers–and why you should too.
Handcrafted Quality vs. Mass Production
One of the first and most important things to know about the independent designers and manufacturers partnering with twelvesixtynine is that quality craftsmanship is truly their stock in trade. Because they’re independent, they’re not driven to produce at scale. They don’t have the unending pressure to meet massive production quotas simply to keep the enormous corporate machine going.
And what that means is that they can take their time in crafting each pair of unique sunglasses and specs, no matter how many steps are required or how long it takes. Consider, for example, the legendary Matsuda brand. Every pair of Matsuda sunglasses and spectacles is the outcome of a deliciously meticulous and breathtakingly complex process of handcrafting. This process encompasses an incredible 250 steps and involves the labor of as many as 13 elite artisans. Indeed, so painstaking is the labor that goes into handcrafting even one pair of Matsuda sunnies and specs that it can take up to two years to complete.
And what that means for you is ultra high quality with incomparable attention to detail. Unlike mass produced eyewear that is sped through the manufacturing process with shortcuts taken whenever possible to maximize productivity and profitability, independents like Matsuda invest the time to do it right. Every. Single. Time. And that means that every pair is designed to last not just for years but for generations.
Innovation and Ingenuity in Eyewear
One of the greatest assets of being an independent eyewear designer and producer is that you’re not a slave to mass market trends. You don’t have to hustle constantly to meet the demands of the largest possible consumer segments just to keep the Goliath of a company you’re designing for afloat.
Creative innovation, rather than profit margins, is at the forefront of this business model. And that means that designers can focus on cultivating their inspiration, wherever it may strike. A case in point is the ingenious style of Jacques Marie Mage, which blends West Coast contemporaneity with the sumptuous romanticism of Parisian laissez faire.
The designers at Jacques Marie Mage are celebrated for their genius in design innovation, culminating in an aesthetic that is at once wonderfully unique and instantly recognizable as a JMM original. And this is the glory of the independents. When you choose a brand from a small, autonomous firm, you know you are getting a rare and precious find, one from an intentional batch, rather than a one among the millions.
Sustainable Processes and Eco-Friendly Materials
At twelvesixtynine, we are proud to partner only with independents who are as committed to environmental sustainability as we are. Because our independent partners operate at a much smaller scale, they have the capacity to source only the finest, highest quality, and most eco-friendly materials and to engage in manufacturing practices that are expanding the frontiers of sustainability.
For example, our partners use only responsibly-sourced plastics in their cellulose acetate frames. Japanese acetate, which is used by Jacques Marie Mage, for instance, is a plant-based and renewable material that results in highly durable and richly colored frames that can withstand years of hard use. This contrasts with traditional manufacturing practices with materials designed neither for sustainability nor for durability.
And our collective love for the environment isn’t just manifested in our independents’ sourcing of materials or crafting of products. At twelvesixtynine, every pair of sunglasses and spectacles we sell comes with minimal, renewable packaging and with glasses cases and pouches made from 100% vegan leather.
Discover the Power of Independents for Yourself
As much as we love to sing the praises of our immensely creative and talented independent designers and manufacturers, there’s nothing like experiencing the difference for yourself. So why not stop by our boutique today or reach out to our expert stylists at twelvesixtynine to infuse your eyewear collection with the spirit of independence.