Rose Colored Glasses
A Q&A with Rose & Co. founder David Rose.
One of the benefits of being uptight about my possessions means that I rarely lose a good umbrella, the expensive pair of bespoke Hestra peccary gloves I had made or my favorite sunglasses. This loss-prevention OCD and the invention of Airtags has allowed me the freedom to buy investment grade things without fear.
As someone who’s always trying to buy better and upgrade everything I own I now understand that once you start buying nice sunglasses you are ruined for cheap eyewear forever. When you become accustomed to wearing quality eyewear there’s just no going back.
Several years ago I met David Rose and started wearing his designs exclusively. I liked the aesthetics and minimal branding, the designs fit my face type well and the elevated materials are pleasing to the touch.
His frames were everything I wanted in a pair of glasses and another part of my uniform was decided — I had found my eyewear designer. I made a point to not even consider buying anything else because I had found the best possible glasses for me. It’s one more thing I didn’t ever need to think about and that’s exactly what I’m shooting for when it comes to clothing and accessories.
Based in SoCal where sunglasses are an all year necessity and constant companion, David’s sensibility has really aligned nicely with my preference for quality and enduring design. The eyewear world is confusing so I wanted to talk to him about his new brand Rose & Co. I was hoping to get a better understanding of his process and what goes into designing and making a nice pair of glasses. Our conversation is below, I hope you like it.
ACL: What's something that people don't know about the eyewear industry that they should?
David Rose: Eyeglasses are one of the most common medical devices in the world. Over 4 billion adults in the world wear glasses that use correction lenses. Many more people wear glasses as a fashion statement. That’s what I love about the eyewear industry, it is considered both a medical device and a fashion accessory.
You have a long history in the eyewear space — why did you start Rose & Co. now?
Many people ask me that question. It’s not something I really considered. After my 12 years at Salt optics, I knew I wanted to still create and I had something inside me that I wanted to express. I think the driving force and motivation really emerged when I discussed some ideas with my friend and partner Evan Backes. We talked about this experimental project and how we wanted something cool and authentic, but wanted it more accessible than many of the luxury brands. We not only wanted to make great product, but tell stories about who we are and what we like through our social media. Kinda give a peak behind the curtain so to speak.
What sets it apart from other sun or optical brands?
We really believe there is no shortcut to good design, and that good design is achieved through experience and great consideration for the smallest detail. For example, our case and box took over a year to develop. We wanted to make something unique and sensible. Not something you just discarded. The box is made from recycled heavy-duty cardboard with steel rivets and references vintage factory packaging. It can be used for all sorts of small items, but pens and pencils fit perfectly. Our frame case is a steel hinge clam shell wrapped in heavy 16oz military grade canvas. Also, design and manufacturing specifications are shown in transparent detail, illustrating our design process front and center on several of our packaging items -ie, box, case, cleaning cloth, thank you cards & business cards. We also laser engrave a numerical ghost number on each frame showing where your frame was produced in the production run.
One thing I like about what you are doing is the approach to manufacturing. What's your philosophy when it comes to sourcing components and manufacturing?
My frames are produced with manufactures that can address the specific needs of that particular design. That could be China, Japan or Europe. With that said, I strongly believe that the beauty and quality of our product comes from the material we use. That’s why we source Japanese Takiron acetate and Italian Visottica Comotec hinges and core wires exclusively. I have a long history with all of the factories we use. Some of the relationships go back 15+ years when I worked at Oliver Peoples on the production of the brand Mosley Tribes. These companies know my high expectations and are willing to work with me to meet my high standards. It’s more about my relationships with the manufactures and the materials we use, and not so much about where it’s made.
Does quality materials make all the difference when buying quality frames or is manufacturing more important?
The material, either titanium or acetate, makes all the difference. Of course good manufacturing is important, but that really starts with quality control - i.e. hinges are securely embedded with real rivets, core wire is properly inserted and functions correctly, filigree engravings are displayed beautifully, acetate material is cut exact, milled precisely and rounded & polished so there are no square, rough edges. Material itself is a crucial part of the frame, and it is the key essential for ensuring the frames last a long time. That means using a harder acetate, like Takiron, which will hold its shape better and retains its luster longer, or using medical grade Japanese titanium that has a higher strength to weight ratio, rust resistant and is hypoallergenic. For me, exceptional design is achieved when the right materials are used.
Where do you find inspiration? Are there any brands out there that you really love?
The era of 1940 - 1950 is of interest to me the most right now. World War 2 had just started and fashion was stalling. Utility clothing and uniforms dominated the first half of the 1940s. American design thrived during this time. Everything was simple, sporty and casual back then. This is the goal for Rose & Co. I want each piece to reflect that same simple sensibility but, be stylish, casual and have that American look. I want to create utility eyewear that becomes a staple to your style as well as enjoy wearing.