Nothing says summer like a new pair of shades. If you’re looking for a great pair of American-made luxury sunglasses, look no further than STATE Optical Co. They are super high quality, beautifully designed, and made in Chicago. Fighting against notorious eyewear mega-corporations like Luxottica, STATE Optical is a breath of fresh air in a crowded market.
Founded by industry insiders and self-taught craftsmen, STATE Optical Co.’s simple goal is to make world-class luxury eyewear in America. STATE sourced machinery from overseas, built a state-of-the-art factory from the ground up, and trained an American workforce after decades of the eyewear industry being absent from the USA.
Each pair of STATE frames takes nearly two weeks and 75+ steps to manufacture, many of which are performed by hand. Each pair is inspired by and named after a street in Chicago, and the STATE mark is incorporated into the hinge and temple tip of every frame. The STATE mark is a pyramid of 21 dots that symbolizes Illinois, the 21st state.
STATE was founded in 2014, but the Spring of 2017 brought their brand-new line of sunglasses to the market. Their line of frames retails between $325-$410 and is available at 750+ independent retailers across the country and parts of Canada. STATE offers complimentary tours of their Chicago factory on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The sunglasses STATE sent me are called the Burnham. Burnham Ave. was named after Daniel Burnham, one of Chicago’s most prolific Architects. He was the Director of Works for the World’s Columbian Exposition, AKA the World’s Fair, in Chicago in 1893. Burnham co-designed the Masonic Temple Building, one of the first American skyscrapers. He also designed the Flatiron Building in NYC, Union Station in Washington DC, and a number of famous buildings in Chicago.
Inspired by Daniel Burnham’s legacy, STATE’s Burnham sunglasses feature sharp lines and a multi-dimensional shape. The Burnham frames take a classic design; similar to something you’ve seen many times, and STATE took the design further when they added dimension. The top of the frames is a glossy black finish, while the bottom of the frames has a more matte black finish. The difference in finishes accentuates the multi-dimensional quality of the frames. The Burnham frames are built with custom 3-barrel hinges and nylon-coated screws for long-lasting quality.
The Burnham shades come in a four frame styles: Tortoise Sage, Horn, Ebony Smoke, and Black. Each frame style comes with a different lens color; khaki gradient, brown gradient, gray gradient, and dark gray respectively. I chose black frames because I’m a wimp when it comes to fashion and I figured I couldn’t go wrong with classic black sunglasses.
The build quality of STATE’s sunglasses is fantastic; you can really tell that craftsmen make them by hand. The lenses are incredibly clear and polarized for increased eye protection. I’ve worn them daily commuting into New York City for about a month and they’ve served me very well. They come with a STATE branded hard glasses case and a microfiber cloth to protect your shades.
I’m extraordinarily impressed with STATE’s sunglasses. The fact that they’re making luxury eyewear in the USA is fantastic, bucking the trend of the gigantic eyewear corporations gobbling up all of the fashion brands. If any of STATE’s designs strike your fancy, I absolutely recommend checking them out.
Check out their entire line of STATE Optical Co. sunglasses frames at their website.
Source: The STATE Optical Co Burnham Sunglasses was a manufacturer provided review sample.
What I Like: Classic design; High-quality construction; Made in the USA
What Needs Improvement: Nothing I could find