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Jones And Co. Introducing… l.a. Eyeworks Glasses & Frames in Manchester

This month we are taking you to Los Angeles, the city of angels, to discover the story behind an eyewear company that has been turning heads for 40 years: l.a. Eyeworks. 10 years ago, when I became the owner of Jones And Co., one of the earliest changes I made was to invest in new, exciting ranges of eyewear and the very first collection we selected for our new direction was l.a. Eyeworks.

Conceived in Los Angeles in 1979 by two opticians and friends, Gai Gherardi and Barbara Mc Reynolds, l.a. Eyeworks went on to revolutionize eyewear by taking chances with colours and shapes that nobody else was doing at the time. They were at the forefront of the early 80’s eyewear renaissance, alongside Theo and Alain Mikli.

Today, they are still known for pushing the envelope in fashion, challenging the norms, and creating world-class eyewear.

“A face is a work of art. It deserves a great frame.”

Founders Gai and Barbara grew up in 1960’s Orange County, California, and that’s where the brand’s rebellious counter-culture started. They met in high school at the age of 15. In the 70’s, Barbara worked in the ‘rock n’ roll’ opticians of that era, Optique Boutique, whose clients included the likes of Elvis, Janis Joplin, and Sammy Davies Jr. Gai was working in other opticians across Los Angeles and both were saving their dollars with the dream of opening their own store.

The duo opened l.a. Eyeworks in 1979 on Melrose Ave., surrounded by other forwardthinking retailers who were attracted to this area that went on to become one of the most vibrant destinations in the city.

Bored by what was considered normal eyewear – “big awful things with something slapped on the side, logos and nothing to do with real design or fashion” – the optical pioneers wanted to shake up the world of eyewear.

They started by buying military-issue glasses. “We loved the generic style and honesty to them. We thought let’s trick these out. Let’s dye them, drill them full of holes, sandblast them, and put mirrored lenses in. We went about it this way because they were the only frames we could find to buy that we actually liked. At the time we didn’t know how to make a pair of glasses. We had to figure it out ourselves,” said Gai.

Within a year, these customised frames were going down so well that the store was often mobbed, and they had to employ a bouncer to keep things under control! Soon enough Gai and Barbara started thinking about designing and making their own frames.

This took them to Paris and to small French eyewear factories where they presented drawings and design ideas and explained what they wanted to do. That was the start of the l.a. Eyeworks brand and manufacturing their own original frames not just for their own store, but for other independent opticians across the world who shared their passion for individual eyewear. What set the l.a. Eyeworks range apart in the early days was that each style was available in a palette of 12 colours. Since then, l.a. Eyeworks has always been obsessed with hues, tones, and textures.

“Glasses are like amplifiers. You can dial them up and you can dial them down… They give you permission to explore your personality.”

Having just celebrated its 40th anniversary, today l.a. Eyeworks is a brand with iconic status. The frames are still designed in L.A. and handmade in France. Their operation and manufacture are more sophisticated, but the aesthetic and philosophy of pushing boundaries are as resonant as ever. The l.a. Eyeworks identity is strong.

“The thing about l.a. Eyeworks frames is that they look their best on a face. They look great on the shelf, but they look better on a face. Our frames are designed to celebrate the quirkiness of a person’s individuality.”

The starting point in this celebration of quirkiness is the frame’s design. It doesn’t begin
with a trend analysis. It doesn’t begin with a run-of-the-mill shape. For l.a. Eyeworks, it starts
with colour.

“For me, colour becomes a solid. That means you’re not just looking at a material. Magically,
colour flows in and out and you make something with your mind. I equate colour with taste.
Like, if you thought of a lemon and it makes your mouth water, I can think of colours that
do that for me,”
says Gai.

l.a. Eyeworks’ attitude of pushing boundaries extends to every aspect of what they do. In the early 80s, their store was one of the places to be seen in Los Angeles and attracted a broad mix of people. Two creative directors named Gary Johns and Jeff Gorman were regular customers and convinced Gai and Barbara that the company needed an advert for the local press. They created the tagline, “A face is like a work of art. It deserves a great frame.” Gorman’s brother, a renowned photographer, went on to create a series of glamorous, high-contrast black-and-white portraits of an eclectic bunch of L.A. residents. Subjects ranged from RuPaul to David Hockney, Andy Warhol to Chaka Khan, Jodie Foster to John Lee Hooker, Peewee Herman to Arnold Schwarzenegger. “You can’t buy advertising like that these days,” says Gai.

“The thing about l.a. Eyeworks frames is that they look their best on a face. They look great on the shelf, but they look better on a face. Our frames are designed to celebrate the quirkiness of
a person’s individuality.”

l.a. Eyeworks at Jones And Co.

Each year when we travel to eyewear trade fairs in Paris, Milan, and Munich, our first appointment is always with l.a. Eyeworks because their passion and joy for what they do are contagious. They will always kick start your day even if you were previously bleary-eyed from leaving Manchester at 5 a.m. to fly to Paris. Gai and Barbara are still very much the life and soul of the company and we are lucky to have developed a great relationship with them over the years. They are two of the most genuine and authentic people we know in the world of eyewear.

At Jones And Co., we are honoured to have the privilege of showcasing the creative colours, unexpected shapes and innovative shapes that are l.a. Eyeworks.

Each piece of our collection has been hand-selected by our team for design and colour with you, our clients in mind.

There is a tremendous amount of skill and expertise in curating a collection like l.a. Eyeworks and frankly, the Jones And Co. team does it better than anyone. When it comes to matching frames to faces and personalities and prescriptions, we can show you possibilities and eyewear combinations no one else can. It’s never just about the frame. A frame on a shelf is only a half-finished product. The real magic is in assembling a stunning piece of eyewear with your prescription lenses, as thin and flat and light as optically possible, in a frame colour and shape that combines with your face and personality to say exactly what you want it to say about you. That’s the Jones And Co. magic.

We have around 60 l.a. Eyeworks pieces now in stock! The Jones And Co. team can help you create the perfect piece of l.a. Eyeworks eyewear for you and bring a bit of l.a. sunshine and attitude into your life!

Call the team on 0161 834 7798 or email to book a styling consultation and see the entire collection of l.a. Eyeworks glasses and frames in Manchester.

What To Expect On Your First Visit
  • Thorough Eye Exam (We Accept Outside Prescriptions Too).
  • Free Eyewear Styling Consultation (Get Expert Help Choosing Glasses).
  • Choose From Unique Selection Of Frames.
  • Review Your Lens Options And Price Options.
  • Love Your Glasses! Your Satisfaction Is Guaranteed.
Jones And Co. Styling Opticians 82 King Street Manchester M2 4WQ Get Directions
0044 161 834 7798 Monday – Saturday
9:00am – 5:30pm