Nowadays there seems to be a natural predilection for wanting consumer goods, in particular clothing and accessories, which have a rich history of traditional manufacturing processes. Since the financial crisis of 2008, consumers have become increasingly interested in knowing the origins of their purchases and eager to get their money’s worth. The creative economy now seems to be increasingly calling for skills that are a characteristic of this economic change. This focus on craft, as a result, provides a sense of self-worth, because you honestly do feel better about yourself, more assured and confident, knowing that you are donning an exceptionally well-made item of clothing, or an accessory.
In the same vein, Japan is a nation that has for hundreds of years, enjoyed an incredibly rich history in traditional craftsmanship and manufacturing processes – yielding a society of craftspeople heralded as the masters of precision. The age-old art of of sword and knife production is perhaps the most famous example – you wouldn't want to be on the end of a samurai’s sword would you? But Japan’s relationship with artisanal craft goes well beyond Katana production; it is a highly respected global exporter of various luxury goods. But one area of Japanese craftsmanship, which you may not be particularly familiar with, is the art of glass manufacturing.
Due west of Tokyo lies the prefecture of Fukui. Even further west, there is the small city of Sabae, where this story begins. Sabae is known to produce 90 percent of Japan’s glassware and an astonishing 20 percent of the eyeglass frames in the world; most notably, the inhabitants of Sabae pioneered the use of titanium in frame production. Sabae also plays home to Eyevan 7285, one of the most exciting eyewear brands on the market right now. A complex blend of the traditional, combined with modern technological innovations, forges a pair of frames and lenses that are of the absolute highest standard. If you are wearing a pair of Eyevan 7285 frames, you are wearing a piece of precision engineering, they're no mere throwaway market-stall ‘sunnies’.
“The Japanese are always very interested in the technical perfection of the work, and there’s a great deal of patience that goes into producing many of the different forms” says Noriyuki Yamamoto, President & CEO of Optec, the holding company of Eyevan 7285, who ran me through the brand’s history and process. “It was a way of life to past generations to fill time and feed their family, now the attractions of becoming an artisan for many young people in Japan is that this work offers them an outlet for self-expression. The world of the artisan is a complete contrast to he normal way of life in Japan’s cities and today’s modern technological way of living. Independence is another attraction, with many aspiring craftspeople keen to use the skills they learn to set up their own businesses.”