There are certain items we expect to be made of wood—furniture, floorboards, cutting-boards. Then there are items that sometimes are made of wood—boats, skateboards, and ladders. And then there are the rare wooden items—like bicycles, bowties and eyewear.
Capital Eyewear crafts eyeglass frames from wood. Capital was started by Steven Kilzer and is an independent eyeglass design and manufacturing studio, handmade in San Francisco by quality craftsmen with outstanding attention to detail. “Building your own workshop is not the easiest way to make glasses, but for us, it's the best way.”
Most eyeglasses are mass-produced and manufactured by enormous corporations. Capital Eyewear believes that people want a stronger connection with the glasses they wear and the people who make them.
Eyeglasses can define who a person is—think of their dominant presence on your face. The reality is, eyeglasses are one of the most highly personal items we wear.
Capital Eyewear has worked hard to create a company that offers less of a commodity and more of an artwork while maintaining the highest level of quality. A nice pair of glasses is an investment that if taken care of will last for years. “When we send out a new pair of glasses that's the beginning of the relationship, not the end,” says Steven. “We want to be there to answer any questions, repair any issues and be offering something new the next time you need a pair of sunglasses.”
And what’s interesting is that Steven came upon the idea of making frames of wood more out of practicality rather than uniqueness. Steven was out of work, having graduated from school at the depth of the Great Recession. He had a fascination with eyeglasses, but the problem in starting an eyeglass company was that the equipment needed to make traditional acetate glasses was very uncommon and you needed lots of startup cash to start working with a factory.
“When I realized you could make glasses out of wood, things suddenly became more accessible,” says Steven. “I grew up in Montana which has its share of fine woodworkers, and my father had a decent shop in our basement. Once all those things came together I felt like there was nothing that could hold me back and all I wanted to do was to start making glasses. I found a garage to work in and spent 12+ hrs a day in there nearly every day for the next year.”
Steven says it’s the subtle beauty of a fine pair of glasses that drives him to do this everyday. “It can really transform a person's expression and in turn how they interact with the outside world…It's exciting to know you can make something that has such a direct impact on a person's daily life.”
To create Capital Eyewear, they use American Hardwoods sourced from the USA. “We have not and will never use any wood from rainforests or endangered sources.” The frames are moisture and water-resistant. “We treat all our frames to bond natural fibers within the wood. This makes the frames much stronger than untreated wood could ever be without sacrificing the beauty and character of real natural wood.” And they use Carl Zeiss Vision lenses which are the strongest and sharpest lenses on the planet.
Capital Eyewear’s customers are people who value responsible, functional class. “The idea that you can wear something that is of the highest quality, socially responsible, performs flawlessly, and maybe most importantly, looks great. It's like owning an electric car that drives like a modern Ferrari, looks like vintage one and costs as much as a Toyota. Who wouldn't enjoy that?
Steven says they don't make just another pair of glasses. Capital makes a functional work of art that represents an honest connection between you and the people who made them.