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Essential Journal

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Creating Quite the Spectacle

With a firm focus (no pun intended) on the finer details, Clayton Franklin brings the Japanese philosophy of refined design and modern styling to contemporary spectacles

Clayton Franklin, founded in 1995 in the city of Sabae, Japan, is a highly regarded designer and manufacturer in the international eyewear world. Based in a region famous for its eyewear industry, Clayton Franklin imbues the Japanese penchant for minimalist design and superior engineering with a little modern styling to create superlative optical and sunglasses frames. We speak with Brand Director, Tim Webb about the story so far.

First off, catch us up on the Clayton Franklin story. Where does the name come from?
Back in 1995,  a major Innovator in the American eyewear industry decided to create a unique Japanese collection that merged traditional craftsmanship with cutting edge technology. It was decided to use the owner’s grandfather’s first name of “Clayton”, while “Franklin” is a nod to none other than Benjamin Franklin. Franklin is credited with having invented the first bifocal lenses. And so Clayton Franklin was born. From the late nineties onwards, Clayton Franklin has been sold in the best independent optical stores in America and Japan.

How would you describe the Clayton Franklin philosophy?
I’d say it boils down to a number of elements, each one as important as the next; thoughtful execution; handcrafted techniques; innovative technology; Japanese minimalism; exquisite detailing and, of course, perfect proportions.

Clayton Franklin hails from Sabae, a city world-famous for its superior eyewear. Is that sense of heritage and tradition important to you guys?
Yes, completely. The renowned workshops of Sabae embody the very latest in design & technology but always with a nod to the historical context. That combination of tradition and technology sits at the very heart of what we do here.

The glasses frame is such a unique canvas, how do you go about standing out and making a mark within the more functional constraints of the frame?
The boundaries are always pushed in terms of what’s possible technically and aesthetically within the materials. For example the CF 606 was one of the very first frames to feature a superfine acetate insert, which has been copied widely by many other fashion brands. More recently the CF 630  features a floating rimless lens with a Zylo or Windsor rim. The shapes are timeless & completely grounded in classical, wearable shapes. It’s a unique journey from concept to construction, which has evolved from over 25 years of bespoke manufacturing.

Can you highlight a few of your most popular frames? Or any personal favourites?
Where to start? The 606 is a timeless, classic, P3 shape with beautiful filigree detailing & enamelled end tips. The various colour combinations add to the subtlety and drama in equal parts. The 627 also follows through with innovative design elements in an elegant setting. There are striking colour combinations to play with there, too. 

I also love the 646, it’s a streamlined navigator shape, completely pared down to minimalist excellence. Beautiful in optical or sunglasses, both in matt & shiny finishes. From the latest collection we have the CF 770, a classic heavy, rectangular acetate. It features crisp & elegant metal detailing at the lugs & sides. There’s unique lattice work etched onto the temples. The CF logo is floating in the tips, too. The colour palette includes new, wearable translucents such as light grey stripes & soft chestnut fades

Do you have any bespectacled style heroes that might have influenced you over the years? 
Mahatma Gandhi, Roy Orbison and Bootsy Collins!

And finally, do you have any styling advice for those new to wearing frames? How does one go about picking the perfect frame?
Firstly, visit a good independent optician to try on different shapes & colours. It’s more about understanding how you yourself feel about wearing specs. Do you want them to be a bold strong look or blend in more as a neutral?  Fit. Is. Everything. You can wear any shape or colour as long as you get the fit right.