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Born and raised in New York City, it was important for Gerard Masci to maintain a personal relationship with his new eyewear brand, Lowercase, which he launched in 2015 with co-founder Brian Vallario.
“I grew up in the city so if I was going to make an investment and try to create some jobs, I wanted to be in my hometown,” Masci said, “One thing I learned during the research phase of the company was that New York was actually quite an epicenter for eyewear production — Rochester, in particular, is what I've been told.”
With Lowercase, Masci and Vallario set out to bring eyewear production back to New York to restore a manufacturing heritage that had since been lost. Outside of being crafted there, each Lowercase frame has a design connection to NYC, too, with names like Rockaway and Hudson. Our favorite, the Dakota, retails for $299 and is named after the famed Dakota building on 72nd Street and Central Park West, where John Lennon lived. So, it’s no coincidence that these frames are a modern take on his signature round frames.
With the eyewear industry largely run by Italian monopoly Luxottica, prices have radically escalated over the past few decades. Luxottica owns almost all the big eyewear brands on the market (Chanel, Prada, Versace, Ray-Ban, Oakley, etc.), along with the various stores in which these brands are sold, like Sunglass Hut. With such expansive power (and without any true competition in sight) Luxottica had the luxury of setting the price for the entire market, and only in the past decade have independent eyewear brands begun to break in.
By producing locally at their studio in the Brooklyn Army Terminal, Masci and Vallario are able to sell frames at a fraction of the cost most luxury eyewear sells for, while also overseeing every step of the manufacturing process to ensure the best possible quality. In order to make the eyewear domestically, the two traveled to Italy and Japan to acquire top-tier acetate and specialized machinery. What comes out is a chic, timeless, and durable pair of sunglasses that’ll last you far longer than one summer.