July 28 2015
The Vision is Clear at Durant Sessions
Written by Gastown Admin
The brainchild of a group of optical experts with 20 years of combined experience in the industry, Durant Sessions aims to nurture an appreciation for the intricacies in every frame. The shop’s team of opticians and consultants invite each customer to learn more about their selection – from the brands origin and materials being used, to signature designer details.
Owner Eric Dickstein elaborates, “There’s something wrong with making things look as great as they can for the least amount of money. It’s a facade – like Las Vegas buildings that appear to be castles, but if you knock on them, they’re hollow.”
The Cordova Street shop opened at the end of May with a modern aesthetic and several pieces of functional décor – like a tinting machine. Located in the front window, it makes custom tinting possible and very visible. Customers can watch the process and choose from one of Durant Sessions four signature shades – English Bay, Stanley Park, PNE or Sunset Beach. But that’s not all, the team has an on-site sandblaster to give frames a matte finish, as well as all the mad skills required to cut your lenses with precision. Even the interior design is meant to showcase craftsmanship.
“If you look at where the beams meet the columns, it loosely resembles where a frame front meets the temple, everything here was carefully thought out. It’s the subtle details. Not everyone is going to see it and that’s ok. There’s a certain amount of discoverability that I enjoy.”
Shelves line two walls of the shop, putting hundreds of styles at your fingertips. A large wood table is the perfect spot to collect options and then pull up a chair to give them a try. Durant Sessions carries Ray Bans and Oliver Peoples, but there are also frames in store that you won’t find anywhere else in the city (or the country).
“I’ve been in the industry a long time and for me it’s not so much about having the exclusive on a brand, the thing that excites me is that I had the eye to find something great. I’ve picked them for the shop because I really, really like them.”
One of these finds is Ohio based, Anni Shades. The wood frames are hand made by Phil Mastroianni and Tyler Koehn, and offer layered ply in a variety of colours, custom temple length for a perfect fit and bendable hinges. It takes three weeks to complete the 65+ steps in the creation of each frame, including ten ‘working hours’ dedicated to cutting, sanding and finishing.
“This brand is all about process. They’re fully customizable and the guy who picks up the phone to take the order is the same guy who makes them.”
For those who favour plastic frames, Durant recommends Jacques Marie Mage, a French designer living in LA. It’s a line of rare, collectible spectacles that combine historical motifs with precious materials, innovative production methods and ethical business practices. The brand specializes in micro-production, creating premier quality, limited-edition eyewear.
“It’s the thickest acetate you can get and each frame is hand carved. You get beautiful craftsmanship and every frame is numbered.”
Also on Durant Sessions hot sheet is Japanese brand, Eyevan7285.
“The Japanese are known in the eyewear industry for making the highest quality frames. From delicate filigree to titanium nose pads, they don’t pull any punches. They did every possible thing to put as much class and sophistication as possible into a beautiful, simple frame.”
With all our eyewear questions answered, there was just one more thing we needed to know – where did Dickstein come up with the shop’s moniker? It turns out the name pays homage to Eric’s mentor who taugh him the idiosyncracies of being a skilled optician. Back in LA, they forged a friendship outside work, sharing a passion for music. The two would soon reference these famous recordings as ‘Durant Session’.
You can find Durant Sessions at 315 West Cordova (between Homer & Cambie).