Common wisdom suggests that if you can’t find something you want, you should just make it yourself. That’s how Alex Baker, the chief operating officer of Fivestory in New York, found herself working on a highly technical side project: Féroce, a new line of handmade acetate sunglasses, each retailing for just $110. “I always found that when I was shopping for sunglasses, I had to choose between quality, design, price, and actual protection,” Baker explains. “I really wanted to make sunglasses that had all of those things—that felt really high-end, but were still accessible. I don’t believe that because there’s a lot of attention to detail, they have to cost a fortune.”
You could say Féroce is filling a gap between the cheap, fast-fashion eyewear brands and the designer sunglasses that seem to get more expensive by the year (right now, a pair from one of the top brands will cost you at least $400). But it’s almost a disservice to compare Féroce’s frames to its direct competitors; in fact, they out-perform many of the sunglasses that cost two or three times as much. A lot of that comes down to Baker’s direct-to-consumer business model, but it’s also true that eyewear is often marked up to an exponential degree. That becomes even clearer once you hear precisely how Féroce’s well-priced frames are made: Each is carved from a single block of acetate, which is supplied by the Italian company Mazzucchelli 1849, known for its superior quality and rich colors; in contrast, other brands (particularly the less-expensive ones) use injection molds, a cheaper process that can yield flimsy results. Baker’s lenses are all polarized (which protects your vision, reduces the need to squint, and cuts down on horizontal glare) and have UV400 protection. During a preview, she also pointed out the internal structure within the acetate frames: each has gold hinges and a gold wire core, a detail that’s often absent in other labels.
Baker is starting with a handful of styles that she describes as timeless, but with touches of novelty in the colors, which range from classic black and tortoise to crimson, beige, ivory, and rose. “I wanted these to be sunglasses women can wear for a really long time,” she says. “I don’t want them to be [perceived as] fast fashion, but I do feel that the price gives women an opportunity to buy their favorite style in multiple colors, so they can pair it back to different outfits or lipsticks.” Before she expands into different materials—like wire frames, metal frames, or mixed-material frames—she expects to gradually add more colors first.
In terms of fit, she also went through “an enormous amount of sampling” to ensure that each frame will suit numerous face shapes and sizes. On her website, she’s recommended a few of them based on face proportions: The slim Hilary, for instance, is best for “petite faces,” while the Claudine is ideal for medium, long, or rounder faces. Most of the sunglasses are described as being “perfect for all shapes,” though, like the angular Heather or oversize Davinia, and all of them were designed to avoid “the half-eyebrow,” Baker’s personal pet peeve. “If you’re going to wear a really small frame, you should see your full brow [above it]. But if you’re wearing a larger frame, it should totally cover your brow—not cut right through the middle,” she explains. “It just frames your face better.” Whether you prefer large, small, cat-eye, or round sunglasses, find your new favorite on?Féroce’s site.