A pair of State Optical Co. frames after the tumbling process; company co-founder Scott Shapiro.
Scott Shapiro’s family founded Europa eyewear out of a garage in Chicago in 1977. But after decades of working in the industry, Shapiro and partner Jerry Wolowicz spotted a hole in the market. “There’s a real disconnect between consumers and their eyewear,” says Shapiro, noting that every American optical company imports its products from overseas. “We thought that if we could produce frames here in the US, we could create a more authentic and honest brand.”
So that’s what they did. Launched last year (and already available at 500 locations nationwide), State Optical Co. produces frames right here in the Windy City. “Chicago is our home. And it fits the brand really well,” says Shapiro. “It’s an international city, but it’s also a gritty blue collar city. Our brand walks that same fine line—it’s a high-fashion luxury brand defined by the hands that craft it.”
At State Optical Co.’s factory, craftsmen use over 75 steps to create one pair of acetate eyeglasses, including drilling 21 dots through the temple tip of each pair to represent Illinois, the 21st state in the Union. While the logo is a nod to the brand’s roots, it’s also a stylish touch that its audience of modern movers and shakers will appreciate. Says Shapiro, “[State] is about people who are doing exciting things. It’s about craftsmanship and changing your sphere of influence—doing things differently.”