Ever been in a situation where you just can’t find a pair of sunglasses that you like??……………..cuz I HAVEN’T!!! (sorry Brooke)
It begun at an early age for me, my love for sunglasses, and along the way I’ve grown to appreciate a well crafted pair of frames opposed to the lesser. Some people will say I’m crazy for having 15 pairs, or that I would ever pay hundreds of dollars for them when I could just go to Kensington and pay 5 bucks for what they’d call “the same style”. Well clearly if you think this way you’ve never experienced or bothered to try on a pair of decent, hand crafted sunglasses..or should I say “face jewelry”.
Check out my triangular frames with neon pink sides: Seattle circa 1992
Over the years the quality of designer sunglasses has shifted….unfortunately for the worse. With parts now being manufactured in China and then only sometimes being assembled in Europe, this system proves to be of a lower quality then that of the past. For this reason, Jon James, the founder and curator of Aeroplane Vintage Eyewear, decided he would start his own eyewear business.
Jon James and his partner/ product designer Christian Sugiharto launched Aeroplane in only May of 2011, yet the company and it’s product have already been turning heads. Their only location at the moment is situated within a large showroom downtown Toronto, open anytime by appointment only.
Jon has collected vintage eyewear personally for years before his business begun, and it wasn’t until he started to notice there was a lack of uniqueness in the selections at most eyewear stores, that he decided he wanted to show people the possibilities of both quality, as well as originality. What’s also apparent is that most of the new frames today are in fact based on old styles to begin with, so why change a good thing?
Aeroplane is about the experience, it’s essentially a museum of eyewear where the client is immersed in them, not only trying them on, but learning about them and their past. They carry roughly a thousand pairs of frames within the store, while they keep thousands in storage, importing hundreds of frames from Europe at one single time.
Other than Aeroplane there’s only two other businesses in Canada that do what they do, but what is fantastic about them is they also do CUSTOM LENSES finished with the Aeroplane seal of quality in the corner, what more could you ask for!? They can customize any fade, any colour, or any shape into the frames you just purchased.
Brands include: Christian Dior, Cazal, Rayban, Cartier, Dunhill, Yves Saint Laurent, Carrera, Porsche Design, Alpina, etc. Many being handmade while including features such as 18K gold, Swarovski Crystals, and Mother of Pearl…can’t complain ; )
-Yves Saint Laurent
-Cartier 18k gold frames with natural transition lenses, brown aviator fade
-Art Piece by Talwst Santiago
-The mystery man: Jon James and his frames
I was curious to know how many pairs of sunglasses Jon owned in his personal collection. I had assumed it would of been well over 50, although his response was simply 12, which he keeps on rotation. The only pair he claims he’d never get rid of were his Porsche Design frames which feature weathered brass sides and a wood grain lense border. Unfortunately he didn’t have them on him so I couldn’t snap a pic, although he showed me a similar style, very classic.
-Drawers and drawers filled with frames! I was like a kid in a candy store.
During my visit to the showroom, I understood the difference while shopping around (obviously I had to try things on while I photographed!) It’s just you, Jon and whoever it is you bring to tag along. This allows you to really get the chance to try on things you normally wouldn’t try without embarrassment, while Jon educates you on where the frames came from, what country they were made, and what year they were made. I left feeling more knowledgable about what I was intending to buy, and that I needed to snatch them up quick because there’s only the ONE pair! So let’s be honest, you feel somewhat special knowing that you’re not going to see someone else walking down the street with the same wicked pair of shades on, true?
Over the winter Aeroplane is scheduled for three pop up shops in Toronto, email Jon for dates if you are interested, they will be held at Blackline Studio at King and Portland, OOG Gallery at Harbord and Spadina, and the last one at Spadina and Richmond.www.aeroplanegallery.com
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