Chicago Looks: Optical Magician

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Coyote DeGroot from Labrabbit Optics (labrabbit.org) shares his view on eyewear.

Why did you decide to work as an optician?
I got kicked out of college and my mom gave me two weeks to find a job. I’ve always been attracted to technical and paramedical fields, and I came across a job listing for an entry-level position at an optical lab.  That was fourteen years ago, and I guess I was just crazy enough to never leave.

How important is eyewear in composing one’s look?
While not as essential as a gentleman’s wristwatch or a woman’s handbag, this increasingly discretionary accessory can be the finishing touch that really clinches a look. Considering that eyewear is possibly the most visible of all accessories, it’s often the most ignored. I see a lot of obviously composed looks that are ruined by some cheesy frame that someone picked up from Warby Parker or LensCrafters.

How can a person pick the perfect frames?
There’s a commonly held belief that there’s some sort of “golden ratio” when it comes to the compatibility between face shape and frame shape.  That’s blatantly untrue; people are not circles, squares, or ovals, they all have very individualized features and senses of style. I take these things into account, along with the prescription, to help choose a frame that complements these subtleties. Fashion should also be about exploration, so I’m quite encouraging when it comes to trying something new or different.

What’s your favorite eyewear brand?
I really love all my brands, they all have something unique to bring to the shop.  If I had to choose one brand, I’d say Yellows Plus is my current favorite—they’re an under-the-radar Japanese brand that’s stocked by only one other shop in the US. The construction of their frames is immaculate, and the overarching aesthetic of the collection is classic, accessible, and subtly stylish. I just picked up a pair for my personal collection actually, a double-bridge aviator frame with sort of a “Euro-Dad” vibe.  Cool stuff.

—Interview and photgraph by Isa Giallorenzo

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