I was just at the Zoo and in reviewing the newly launched independent eyewear brand GRO, the colors remind me of nature colors: Polar Bears, Pandas, Zebras, Snow Leopards, Lions, Jaguars and some avians. I can’t think of anything more distinctive that design mimicking nature.
Their focus was to produce distinctive luxury eyewear. The design team are veteran opticians who know quality, style, trend having been in the optical business for 40 years. From the looks of the line, I think they have nailed it.
GRO is produced in an Italian factory, where every section of the frame is cut, assembled and polished by the hands of dedicated eyewear artisans. Edges are faceted with a distinguished three-dimensional style that speaks to a detail only hand manipulation can achieve. Colors blend carefully to produce a majestic kaleidoscope of color effects to suit any style demands. And because each frame is hand produced, no two frames ever carry the exact same cut or color pattern. GRO is personalization at its most luxurious.
GRO frames are durable, with a high gloss and transparency engineered through exclusive use of organic Mazzucchelli (mat-su-keli) acetate, the best zyl known to eyewear manufacturing. Mazzucchelli acetate consists primarily of organic, renewable cotton fiber and wood pulp, yielding frames that feel more natural to the touch than other acetates.
The procedure for creating GRO eyewear can take upwards of sixty days or more, as artisans labor over the process of turning pulverized cotton flakes into a transparent paste, which is then fed continuously into rollers to create raw acetate sheets of a desired thickness. Next comes hand application of organic colored powder on acetone sheets, followed by perfect blending with yet another encounter with rollers.
Sheets of varying colors are then chopped into small cubes and again processed through rollers to fabricate a new patterned sheet. Sheets are pressed together to create a solid acetate cube, which is sliced into new sheets of desired thickness and made ready for the next production process. Yet this next step may take weeks or months to begin as the most durable acetate requires time to cure.
Lenses are made with optically grounded CR-39, providing lightweight comfort with superior optical clarity and 100% UVA/UVB protection. Premium coated lenses feature gradient and flash mirror with a matching backside anti-reflective and scratch resistant topcoat.
The finished result is eyewear that is hypoallergenic, lightweight, and resistant to distortion and warping, even after many years. Because of the arduous hand production process, GRO frames can be buffed back into their original luster after years of ownership.
Yet GRO’s high quality manufacturing isn’t the only thing that separates the luxury eyewear line from other designer brands. GRO is also the creation of a design team with a combined 150 years’ experience within the optical industry.
GRO “grew” out of the 40-year-old Rims & Goggles optical boutique in Mill Valley, California. Founded in 1975 by Rosemary Grow, Rims & Goggles has earned a reputation for being the best place to find independent eyewear brands not part of the Luxottica family. With GRO’s launch, Rosemary’s daughter and GRO founder, Penna Omega, takes her mother’s legacy a step further by producing eyewear that maintains the independent allure for which Rims & Goggles was founded.
The mostly-women and one man GRO design team is composed of the Rims & Goggles licensed optical staff. Each designer brings into the creative process her experience working with customers to find the right colors, style and fit to match that customer’s face, personality and lifestyle. The team’s regular scouting sessions in Paris and Milan play an important role in ensuring the GRO collection is current and on trend, while retaining a classic appeal to keep a frame’s design fresh as trends evolve.
Designs are sketched within the Rims & Goggles Mill Valley studio, then sent to an Italian manufacturer to produce samples. Samples are then tested on Rims & Goggles customers to assure both a flattering fit and functionality before being produced in higher quantities. This process guarantees anyone looking for new eyewear will always find something that works for them and their lifestyle within the GRO collection.
GRO frames are also available by special order as ophthalmic eyewear. In keeping with GRO’s focus on individualization, ophthalmic GRO frames are only available made to measure within the Rims & Goggles boutique. Ophthalmic eyewear starts at $325.