Max Mara Eyewear (credit: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)
Shopping for designer eyeglass frames can be a bewildering experience, with many different styles to choose from and an equally wide range of prices. Popular styles change continuously, which is why some merchants keep their selection current to stay on top of the latest trends in eyewear. There are plenty of chain stores to choose from, but a savvy shopper might be wise to consider some of the independent boutique businesses in the Bay Area who have been selling designer frames for many years. A number of them combine vision expertise with a long track record of customer service.
798 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Veo Optics consistently gets high marks for offering a wide range of designer eyewear, along with an expertise that blends contemporary style with the latest trends for their customers. Many different fashionable designers are carried by the store, including Tom Ford, Chloe and The People of Jamestown. Their frames range in cost from $300 to $2000. Veo Optics also operates their own lab in San Francisco, with one longtime specialist who hand mounts each and every designer pair himself.
214 S. B St.
San Mateo, CA 94401
Eyeworks of San Mateo takes pride in carrying only the latest models of designer frames, not outdated or discontinued stock. Fendi, Swissflex and Anne Klein are among the numerous designers available, with prices ranging between $150 to $650. They also carry the popular, ultra-light Kazuo Kawasaki frames (former presidential candidate Sarah Palin is a big fan). Eyeworks will also mail products to their customers to accommodate hectic Bay Area schedules.
888 Brannan St., Suite 194
San Francisco, CA 94103
This independent store was established in 1986 and offers one of the largest selections of designer frames and sunglasses in the Bay Area. Elan Optical was recently recognized as the top Bay Area eyewear store in a poll of 19,000 Bay Area residents. Prices for their designer brands run the gamut from $160 to more than $1500 for that special Cartier. There are a sizable number of frame models available from designers such as Marc Jacobs, Philippe Starck and Versace.
4 Embarcadero Center, Lobby Level
San Francisco, CA 94111
This San Francisco business is worth a visit based on the clever name alone, and they have achieved a reputation for customer support and knowledgeable optometry services. Eye Carumba was opened by Dr. Joe Torres in 2004, who envisioned an eyewear store that combined high-quality designer brands with vision expertise. They do not carry as wide a selection as others, but they do offer frames from name brands such as Prada and Gucci, along with a number of smaller, independent frame makers. You will generally find costs ranging from $130 to $500.
1875 S. Bascom Ave., Suite 162
Campbell, CA 95008
Located in the Pruneyard Shopping Center in Campbell, Unique Eyewear has served a loyal clientele for the past 37 years. They carry over 2,000 designer and name-brand frames at competitive prices, ranging from $200 to $800. Their extensive collection includes Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani and Miu Miu. In addition to their collection of designer frames, they also specialize in children’s eyewear, maintaining a special section in the store with more than 300 models in stock.