Drift Eyewear

Hardwood frames tap architecturally-inspired design for a better fit

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Anyone who struggles to read the third row of an eye chart knows that glasses are more than just a fetching style choice. Those plagued with poor eyesight tend to live in their specs and want a pair that adds something special without sacrificing the wearability of the otherwise utilitarian accessory. Drift Eyewear does both with their collection of handmade frames, constructed from sustainable wood and the brand’s patent-pending laminated steel core.


Founder Chris Mantz (tinkering in his apartment laundry room) modeled the steel structure after architecture’s curtain wall technique, which transfers the weight of the walls back to the building’s core. In Drift designs this translates into better load distribution on the three contact points of the face that allow for use of distressed fragile woods without worry about them snapping. This also helps keep the frames from sliding down noses (and cuts down on the proper nerd move of constantly pushing them back up).


The latest example of this clever design, the Timber collection is a trio of frames in a limited edition of 100 pairs each. The styles—Truss, Nail Hole and Whitewash—are all crafted from salvaged hardwood sourced from different locales. The dark brown wood for Truss comes from designer Daniel Grady Faires, who painstakingly removed the timber from a renovated building in NYC’s Meatpacking District. Nail Hole’s raw aesthetic is inspired by a collaboration with designer Jessica Park of Seattle’s shop-slash-gallery space Coming Soon, while Whitewash’s frames are devised from a vintage picket fence rescued by Chicago-based artist Raun Myn.


In addition to using responsibly-sourced wood for the frames, Mantz tells us “they are about as eco-friendly as you get,” with fronts made from a plastic derived from the wood pulping process and other components using FSC-certified hardwoods along with reclaimed timber.

Drift Eyewear can be found at retailers around the U.S.; specs in the Timber collection sell for $600 a pair.