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The Spectacled

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Get to Know: Jacques Marie Mage

Jacques Marie Mage - OLYMPE

Jacques Marie Mage – OLYMPE

Some eyewear brands draw you in with their bold statements. Others, make their mark with small details. The new, Los Angeles-based eyewear brand, Jacques Marie Mage, is impressive for being big and small all at once – and doing it with integrity, innovation and style.
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We had a chance to visit the Jacques Marie Mage studio in L.A. to sit down for a chat with the brand’s founder and creative director, Jerome Mage. In person, Mage is smart and eloquent, a man who is clearly passionate about his work, and interested in hearing your thoughts, but someone who won’t let his vision be dictated by the opinions of others.

We were eager to soak in his creativity, and eager to find out what it really takes to run a truly contemporary, forward-thinking, independent eyewear brand today. Along the way, we also had a chance to look through the brand’s latest collections, picking out a few favourites to showcase on The Spectaced. Here’s what we discovered…

Jacques Marie Mage - CLARA

Jacques Marie Mage – CLARA

Jacques Marie Mage frames are easy to spot. They are sculptural, geometric shapes that stand out for their physicality. Some frames are vivid and striking; others are imposing yet delicate at the same time. It’s not about taking vintage designs and “modernizing” them. Rather, Mage fuses all his inspiration – from classic literature, to vintage fashion, to the Art Deco movement – into new and untraditional forms.

Jacques Marie Mage - HORTENSE

Jacques Marie Mage – HORTENSE

Though Mage was born in France, he’s spent the past two decades in California, where he initially escaped to surf and skate. He worked for an action sports brand, before launching Jacques Marie Mage (JMM) last year. His collection is an apt representation of Mage’s lives lived: elegant yet laidback; refined yet robust.

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The materials used are impressive: 10mm block of acetate, sterling silver and 18 ct. gold, to name a few. Mage also experiments with leather and wood. His signature hinge, meanwhile, opens and shuts like a car door, and feels secure and substantial.

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Citing his love of Westerns, Mage incorporates Indian arrow rivets and cowboy spurs into the temples of each pair of glasses, bypassing the more traditional round or square-shaped rivets that other companies use. It’s an impressive and subtle nod to whimsy that you don’t often see among other eyewear brands these days.

Everything is handmade, by frame-makers in Japan and Italy. Each factory has a symbol engraved in the frames. On the temple tips of the frame made in Japan appears the Japanese word for “harmony.” The Italian-made frames also have a word inscribed on the temples: Fortuna, or good fortune. “I want the people who built these frames to be acknowledged for their work,” Mage says. “It’s important that they have a connection to what they are doing and that they take pride in making these glasses.”

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The details extend to the JMM packaging, which Mage refers to as a “classically French presentation.” The glasses come in a vegetable-tanned leather case, handmade in Italy. The case is edge painted for uniqueness. The accompanying cleaning cloth is inspired by a paisley print Kimono that Mage bought in Japan. Everything is then presented in a stately burgundy box, lined with marble-printed paper that was inspired by vintage foil silk. A note card is printed with burgundy ink, and made at the oldest letter press in Los Angeles.

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Philanthropy is also an important part of Mage’s company. Jacques Marie Mage donates a percentage of every spectacle sold to The Yellowstone Park Foundation and Living With Wolves – two organizations that work to protect America’s National Parks and its wildlife. The idea was inspired by Mage’s son, who accompanies him on a yearly father-son trip to Yellowstone. The idea, it seems, is also a metaphor for the brand.

“The ecosystem of Yellowstone is not dissimilar to the ecosystem of working with our factory and our vendors and our company,” Mage says. “Everything needs to work together in harmony; it’s an allegory for what I’m trying to achieve with my business.”

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