Curse these crude Harry Potter-looking glass contraptions! I need something new. Something with style, something intellectual, but not like a dusty professor-type, something with a bit of je ne sais kwah. A dash of élan. Think Milton. Urkel. Dwight from the Office.
Here are 10 places that might stock frames like those. We're excluding glasses markets. They can be a great option, but you risk crappy optometry, aggressive haggling, moody shopkeepers and getting shafted on the price tags.
JINS (Reel Mall)
Jins is a Japanese brand that sells their own brand of frames, and is really popular with "the youth". As such, they are typically thin and a little whimsical. Are your Moments 75% selfies? Yeah? Then you might like these glasses. Sunglasses range is limited but it's February so who cares. We haven't seen the sun in like four months. Jins wins on store numbers: about 30 in Shanghai alone, many in the "nice" malls.
3Yes (Nanjing Xi Lu)
Price: 380rmb to infinity
Brands: Moschino, Ray-Ban, Burberry, Gucci
3Yes is a dated Shanghainese brand stocking the name brands. The shops are a little scruffy and the service is brusque, but it's a serviceable option and they have shops all over town. Is your social circle exclusively 45+ years of age? Maybe try this one.
Price: 800rmb for RODUSOK to 16,000rmb for Lindbergs
Brands: LINDBERG! Also, Chrome Hearts, Markus T, Gucci and Mykita
The highest rated shop on Dianping, this is the only location of a Shanghainese brand that's been open since 2015. Service is professional and personal — as I soon stepped through the door in my filthy lenses, they immediately took the frames off my face and went to clean them. That's service I can get used to! Lindbergs, if you aren’t aware, cost as much as a purebred Tibetan mastiff, but come with a lifetime guarantee. They are the luxury frame and this is one of the better places —did I mention highest-ratedest on Dianping— to get them.
Brands: Helen Keller (groan, seriously), Vivienne Westwood, homegrown
The second highest-rated shop on Dianping, iStation is a small, workshop-like cubby on B2 of Fuxing SOHO. Though they stock a handful of outside brands, it's mainly in-house models, designed by the shop keeper himself. The styles aren’t breaking the mold but the experience is very personal and craftsmanlike, which is probably what propelled it up the rankings ladder. Also, their optometry chair is pretty old-school with all the dials and gear.
Brands: Giorgio Armani, Masunaga, Charmant, Ray-Ban (sunglasses), St. Laurent, Ermengildo Zegna
Redstar Optical is a Shanghai legacy brand established in 1930 that revamped itself in 2005. They stock everything from cheap 200rmb frames to 45,000rmb Lindberg frames under the glass cases. This one is probably aimed more at the older Shanghainese segment, who appreciate the brand name and longevity, but still a pretty good choice to pick up a pair of Ray-Bans. Service is pleasant and professional, and they do a very thorough eye test. At least one pair of glasses in the SmartShanghai office came from here.
Zhongqi Glasses Salon
Brands: Matsuda, Masunaga
Zhongqi is a proper Japanese eyeglass “salon” in a tower block in Gubei. Top-notch service here: Japanese owner invites customers to sit in leather chairs opposite his desk like it's a doctor's consultation and is unflinchingly polite. He told us he didn't want to be in this article because if he gets too many clients, he won't be able to give them the care and attention they all deserve. Sorry boss! The shop stocks mostly Japanese glasses and the main language of commerce here is Japanese, though they also do Chinese (but not English).
Price: Starting at 380rmb for their in-house brand
Brands: Trussardi, Giorgio Armani, Silhouette, Jimmy Choo, Choppard, Cartier
A downtown legacy brand established in 1923, Maochang is old-fashioned with stiff, if polite, service. Like Redstar, its name and history is probably most attractive to Shanghainese of a certain age, who value dependability over the ability to fit in on a Tokyo street, and the reputation of their optometrists. If you’re not part of that segment, maybe the most attractive thing about the store these days is that they do prescription anti-fog diving goggles. Four eyes wanna dive!
Gentle Monster (Huaihai Zhong Lu)
Brands: Gentle Monster ONLY
Gentle Monster is a hyper cool, achingly cool Korean brand stocking only their own stuff. Their shops are art galleries. They're so hip they've got a working design studio on their ground floor. They dumped like 50 sandbags out into the middle of the entrance, because design. Their sunglasses careen from "cartoon villain" to "Seoul circa Year 2149". Functionality is way down the priority list. Regular glasses frames are less boundary-demolishing than the sunglasses. Prices are surprisingly cheap for how much design went into them. It's for people who organize wanghong exhibitions.
Ray-Ban (Huaihai Zhong Lu)
Price: Frame+glass deals start 980rmb
Brands: All Ray-Ban, plus collabs
Do you need an intro? Home of the original Aviator/racist cop shades, Ray-Ban has dozens of spiffy red shops around town with good, often English-speaking, service. Ray-Ban is mostly sunglasses, but they do stock regular nerd eyewear that often look like their sunglasses, minus the colored glass.
Brands: Oakleys, PRIZM, Prada
Part of the Luxotica family that also includes Ray-Ban and Sunglass Hut, LensCrafters does more optical frames than Ray-Ban does; they also sell contact lenses. Service is good, they have like a thousand around the city, and it’s a decent choice if you're looking for foreigner friendly service.
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