Crafting Eyewear from 500 Year-old Timber

By Ross Vernon Dias

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Loch Eyewear, a brand based near Peterborough, is hacking away at the corporate monopoly on the eyewear industry.

Written by Ross Dias

Before Dan Waggoner started his company, he was constantly frustrated with his eyeglass frames. A few days after purchasing a new pair, they would fall off his face, and crack on the ground. The hard plastic resting on his nose was also a constant reminder of the waste produced from the fragile frames.

Luxottica, a Milan-based company, owns a lion’s share of the industry including brands Ray-Ban, Oliver Peoples, and Oakley, along with retailers Sunglasses Hut, and LensCrafters. Some designer brands, such as Prada, Chanel, Burberry, Dolce and Gabbana, and Versace, also use Luxottica’s services to produce their sunglasses and prescription frames.

Safilo, another Italian company, also produces a lot of frames available in North America, and carries licences across the spectrum for Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Moschino, Marc Jacobs, Juicy Couture, Swatch, and Kate Spade.

“I just wanted a better product, honestly,” Waggoner said over the phone. Thinking about the problem, Waggoner wondered if he could create a more sustainable solution. When he learned timber lost during the logging boom was still at the bottom of some Great Lakes, preserved for centuries in near-zero oxygen environments creating unique characteristics in the wood, he knew it would make for the perfect source material. “If you know how to use it, wood can be an amazing material to work with.”

He started the company, Loch Eyewear, with his brother, Dan,  and has been selling his uniquely crafted frames ever since.

This month, Loch was one of four innovative brands selected to participate in a pop-up presented by Samuel Adams, The Disruptors. The craft beer company opened the pop-up to champion innovative companies in other industries that are doing things differently, just like Samuel Adams’ founder Jim Koch did in 1984 when he brewed the company’s first beer, Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

“It gives us a lot of exposure. [Samuel Adams] being such a large brand, draws in so many people, and it doesn’t cost the brands that are there anything,” Waggoner  said.

Loch had some representation on shelves in the Peterborough area, and has a robust eCommerce presence, but the pop-up is the first time the brothers are showing in the heart of Toronto’s shopping district, Queen Street West.

“We haven’t done a pop-up like that in that sort of area yet, with that sort of crowd. It gets people to the door; whoever wouldn’t really come in and you get to talk to them. People haven’t see this type of product before. They love it because it’s totally sustainable, from a renewable resource, but was lost hundreds of years before.”

Some guests also enjoy the opportunity to sip on a beer while they peruse the pop-up, which also includes a no-tie lacing company, Xpand Laces, and travel luggage, 8.1.2. The shop will run until October 14th at 324 Queen Street West.

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