2021/22 SPECIAL: 30 HOT BRANDS to know NOW
(and in the future!)

July 15, 2021

Young labels with a unique perspective, complete newcomers, fresh design collections with an eye on sustainable materials and established independent brands that are thriving through the tough climate...20/20 EUROPE has compiled a guide featuring 30 names to know now and in the future...



GIGI Studios is an independent brand with head offices in Barcelona. The company has designed and produced eyewear since 2015, with a focus on merging fashion and creativity with craftsmanship. The collections aims to offer frames produced in fine materials from Italy, Germany and Japan with precise construction and know-how in technology – to eb able to manage to reach the most sophisticated aesthetics. Patricia Ramo, CEO and Creative Manager is the third generation of a family that has been devoted to the optical sector for over five decades.

This summer, GIGI Studios has extended the VANGUARD collection with six optical frames and three sun models. The nine designs reflect the essence of the collection, merging fashion, a love of the avantgarde and sophistication for women across the globe. Inspired by a variety of cultures, continents and styles, in this summer collection GIGI Studios combines daring, exuberant shapes with others that are more subtle, but just as expressive. The three new sunglass designs - Bella, Eddie and Walker have a retro aesthetic, showing thick Windsor rims, made in Italian acetate and with unique details that merge together with ingenuity and delicacy. Amongst the new optical models, GIGI Studios proposes two design lines. On the one hand, three geometric designs, made in natural acetate, inspired by the decade of the 1970s: the hexagonal model Zina, the square style Victoria and the more rounded, angular-rimmed, Elyse. All of them have the triangular details characteristic of the VANGUARD collection. GIGI Studios has also introduced the new double line concept into the three stainless steel designs. The three new models, Nadine, Goldie and Curtis, have a double line that stands out from both the upper and lower rims, representing a formal innovation that offers new shapes and subtle contrasts in colours.



Etnia Barcelona was first launched as an independent eyewear brand in 2001. All its collections are developed from beginning to end by the brand’s own in-house design team, who are fully responsible for the entire creative process across all its styles and collections. With an approach that is bold with colour and design, the ETNIA lines have traditionally focused on materials such as Mazzucchelli acetates and mineral lenses from Barberini, and a warm yet powerful colour palette born out of the brand DNA. Etnia Barcelona embraces colour, art and culture. Its name is intimately bound to the city in which it was born and has thrived, and now representative of a lifestyle open to the world, “nothing more nor less than a question of attitude” The impressive flagship store in the historic centre of the city, first opened in 20 and designed by Lazaro Rosa-Violan has been described as a “temple to eyewear” echoing the city’s exciting creative spirit. Alongside new collaborations such as a special launch with artist Ignasi Monreal, Etnia’s most recent launch comprises 10 prescription frames and 10 sunglasses, inspired by freedom and optimism and characterized by new shapes, warm colour combinations and intriguing use of textures.


03. NIRVAN JAVAN, Switzerland

Designer Nirvan Javan first entered the eyewear business with the launch of his eponymous brand in 2016. The sleek, lightweight elegant style of the glasses and sunglasses – produced in a range of materials including Japanese acetate and titanium  - are inspired by the metropolises of the world, from London to New York, Paris and Tokyo and a symbiosis of those cultures. The brand’s latest campaign #SEETHEWORLD – THE SHOW was launched in May. Introducing a concept inspired by the multifaceted richness of this world, the imagery celebrates a cosmopolitan, modern society embracing different perspectives. The campaign serves as an extension of the concept #SEETHEWORLD and the invitation to see the world with one's own eyes. "The campaign #SEETHEWORLD – THE SHOW and the story behind it is truly special to me,” says Javan about the new release and video launch. “After a long and intensive process, we are very excited to invite every single one of you to this show and take you with us on a journey around the globe.”


04. JPLUS, Italy

JPLUS frames have a unique identity across the optical models of the collection which are recognizable for that detail of colour on the front, designed to enrich the style of the person who wears all JPLUS model.  In general, the models include what are described as “silhouette with a wide and squared shape or more reduced shapes and typically the cateye”. JPLUS was first created in 2009 by designer Alessandro Martire. Inspired by Jack Kerouac and the beat generation, from which the logo was born, JPLUS presented its first collection as a tribute to three prominent figures of this historical movement: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and John Lennon. Starting from a classic design, JPLUS recovered some of the most iconic shapes from the past as a starting point and built the collection and evolved it with new shapes and concepts of colour.


05. KYME, Italy

Passionate for Italian design and manufacture, and always offering a twist of colour and fashion detail, the Pugliese brand Kyme is light-hearted, fun and always on trend with its mood of modern vintage. For the current season, the collection is immersed in the glamour of the 1970s. Sunglass models like the oversized Laura square design Laura feature special multi-colored details – in this case a two tone geometric affect on the front with corners in a contrasting colour – and stylish “disco-era” boldness in proportions and tonal mix of lens with frame. KYME continues to show its passion for eyewear as a fashion accessory that offers UV protection and functionality as well as highlighting the personality who wears the frame to give expression to their style and character.



Since 2015, Nathalie Blanc Paris has been creating iconic frame styles, with the focus on simplicity and traditional craftsmanship. The brand was first launched by the optician following work for other brands that sparked her love for design. In the latest collection ‘Les Sublimes’ for women, the designer selected 14 key pieces from the archive, where an audacious style also reflects the haute-couture positioning of the Maison Nathalie Blanc. Through this collection, the designer identifies natural elegance and a style infused by effortless chic in shapes informed by French savoir-faire. In 2020, Maison Nathalie Blanc added Monsieur Blanc for men, where sharp trendy shapes and the use of high-quality materials for the crafting process have brought about a collection that is contemporary, cool and comfortable, for the discerning modern male.


Italian craftsmanship and impeccable taste for timeless design characterise the VIVEUR label from Italy, who have recently added a contemporary Mazzucchelli acetate collection to their distinctive metal sun and eyewear range. Carlo Opice, CEO and founder has developed a brand that fits every culture, style and age, with a subtle mix of vintage-inspired elegance and contemporary street style – always balanced and focused on quality and details, such as the finish of the metal surfaces or choice of lens tints. For Spring/Summer highlights include the acetate styles Nizza, Montecarlo and Ponza, styles that reflect on vintage trends of the past, while proposing a stylish modern aesthetic that is easy and fresh to wear.



First launched in 1980 in south west Poland, OVVO introduced a high-tech composite of military-grade surgical steel and titanium – an exceptionally light, durable, flexible, heat-resistant, and hypoallergenic material a few years later in 1985. In 1996 the brand added a screwless hinge into the designs for extra durability and more recently a diamond-like Carbon (DLC) collection was launched making them the only eyewear company to use DLC for glasses. The Diamond-like Carbon collection received the Red Dot award in 2020 and the Good Design award giving the company high credibility as designers and innovators. In 2011, OVVO Optics had grown its presence outside Europe and opened a facility at the foot of Ramapo Mountains in NJ. The close proximity to New York City, its culture, diversity, and a vast variety of creative talent have played an important role in the brand’s genesis and soul. A 100% family-owned operation, OVVO then evolved globally, with members of the family running the factory, the production and engineering team back in Poland, alongside the team in the USA.
DLC is lab-synthesized by decomposing hydrocarbon gases to stack individual atoms in a carbon film that is thinner than paper, as hard as diamond, stronger than steel, and slicker than Teflon. By coating the high-performance surgical steel and titanium composite frames with this amorphous film, the company was able to unlock what they describe as an entirely new realm of possibilities in strength, lightness, scratch-resistance, and durability. This innovative material is used in high-performance industries from auto racing to aeronautics - and now eyewear.



09. ZEUS + DIONE, Greece

With a heritage rooted in mythology and symbolism, as well as the local craft of artisans all over Greece, Zeus+Dione strives to transcend classical notions of style and design. Named after the parents of the ancient Greek Goddess of love, beauty and eternal youth, the brand is characterized by a unique interpretation of myth and tradition and with that various aspects of ancient culture affect the design of each new collection across jewellery, ready-to-wear and eyewear. The Greek letter, Delta Δ, is a predominant undertone of the brand, alluding to spirituality, harmony and creativity/
Beyond symbolism, Zeus+Dione’s eyewear collections are characterised by minimal structures, geometry and precise detail, elements prevalent in classical Greek architecture and design. The latest designs in the sunglasses range focus on earthy colours and oversized shapes with the brand’s characteristic brown tortoise appearing as well as a preference for clean lines, discreet details and timeless simplicity.

10. CAPOTE. Ibiza

Capote's designs are inspired by the intense power and magic of the island of Ibiza. Their instantly recognizable handcrafted frames capture a unique character and personality - with a strong attitude to give each individual an exceptional look and expression. This season, their new collection – DUALITY – explores and plays with the dualities of light and shade, flexibility and stability, extravagance and reservation. The frames are constructed from a blend of titanium and aluminium to ensure stability, lightness and luxurious comfort.



Covrt Project has quickly created a name for itself as the Street brand of eyewear – with its own inimitable style by Creative Director, Marcello Martino and careful and precise production in Italy. Martino is an advocate for products with long-lasting quality, technical precision and rule-breaking attributes using advanced materials and an innovative aesthetic that is progressive and completely distinctive. Covrt Project launched their first sunglasses collection in 2020. _Mission One explores new technologies and the potential of milled steel and Mazzucchelli acetate in constructions conceived from the design of a single unique visor. In the same year the team won the Opti Blogger Spectacle Award for its _Mission One collection – an annual prize which recognises the most promising independent newcomer to eyewear.  This Sring, the collection expanded with a new series of optical frames with bold, layered constructions, micro innovations and cutting edge technical details – true to the spirit of innovative, independent street wear fashion.



Based in Milan and producing the frames exclusively in Italy, conceptual eyewear brand Siens Eye Code is the brainchild of the designers, Stefano and Roberto Russo. Their commitment to a wholly different  point of view and identity, based on a unique combination of science, art, technology and experimental design aesthetics, explores new forms of expression and vision, adding high-level craftsmanship and skilled hand finishing to achieve a new style of frame. The latest line – AGAPE UNEXPECTED CREATURES – offers a visual experience “overflowing with connective energy, designed to restore the joy of reconnection with ourselves and with others.”


13. LIQ EYEWEAR, Spain

Interest in 3D printed eyewear is rising and new start-ups and design companies are embracing this mode of production to achieve a new style of eyewear that is light and comfortable to wear. Among the youngest is LIQ Eyewear in Barcelona, whose frames won a Bronze Delta ADI Award 2020. Their designs are 3D printed in Barcelona and feature a range of design-focused details including high quality flex hinges, an engraved metal plate and interesting bright and more toned down colours. The decorative elements, such as the open work in the model LIQ RAIN1, is informed by contemporary architecture in Spain.



Barcelona-based eyewear brand Kaleos Eyehunters – by creative director Claudia Brotons, offers eyewear and ready-to-wear clothing for men and women at an attainable price. The brand’s approach to fashion is characterised by well-designed well made products with a focus on durability and quality and Italian materials. The current sunglasses collection launched with 25 new styles segmented by three categories: Statement, Titanium and Standard. An eclectic modern style with some statement shapes and oversized designs ensure this line appeals to a wide number of people and age groups who enjoy fashionable, trendsetting contemporary design.



15. DANDY'S, Italy

Handmade in Italy, Dandy’s collection was born from passion and experience acquired over 45 years working in the field of optics, developing techniques for working on the frame, with a genuine desire to make eyewear in a serene and pleasant manner. Focusing on classics and the beautiful shapes in eyewear history, the label takes care over special hand polishing techniques and the different nuances of finish from a completely shiny or unusually milled finish. Their colour palette is varied and vibrant with attention also paid to classic tones of black and Havana and how these colours can be re-explored. The crown jewel of Dandy’s collection are the frames produced from sheets that have been left unrefined, just as they come from the supplier, from the English “rough”. Cellulose acetate is hand-refined using milling and the scraping blade to highlight the qualities of the materials as well as the design of the frames. Dandy’s Rough line came about from a desire to demonstrate the processing of the eyewear to both the optician and the client. (image: man wears model BEL TENEBROSO Rough Blue).


16. LUNETTES ALF, France

An absolute love and respect for vintage eyewear and quality design led brothers Germain and Alexis Bouchara to eyewear creation and the birth of Lunettes Alf. In a few years their collection has been snapped up by some of the most prestigious opticians in Europe and their eye for detail and artisan style has brought them notoriety and recognition beyond the confines of the optical business. In this collection, the artisan approach is founded on materials such as Japanese acetate, mineral glass lenses and a real leather eyewear cord and a respect for quality and comfort and a simple and elegant aesthetic.


17. TVR OPT, Japan

TVR OPT is just starting to reach some of the finest boutiques in Europe, recognised for its exquisite Japanese craftsmanship and approach to classic design. The label is celebrating its 8th Anniversary in 2021, and to mark the occasion it has launched The Infinity Collection. The two novelty piece in this edition are produced to honour “the exquisite artistry of French design with a touch of Japanese sensibility.” This is the first time that TVR® OPT is launching a collection using 8mm Japanese Zylonite Acetate. Patented from classic French design with European influences, the respective models are statement pieces of bold, vintage design.


18. HAPTER, Italy

A hybrid of handcrafted and progressive, the Italian independent atelier HAPTER has achieved notoriety in the sector thanks to its individual experimental style and dedication to technical work in unusual and innovative materials. First launched in 2013 following the earlier retrieval in the Dolomites of an old pair of glacier military goggles from the 1st World War, founder Eric Balzan has gone on to achieve prestigious recognition for his creative design concepts, taking accolades such as the iF Product Design Award, the German Design Award, and Frame of the Year (UK – Optician Awards in 2017). Today, the brand remains firmly entrenched in research and development to produce its handmade eyewear with a fusion of performance, quality and unique artisanal experiences, expressed by the patented signature fusion of materials opposite in nature. Among the collections, the Icons line represents a significant step for the brand in achieving cutting- edge design solutions, with a signature stylistic and functionality in the wide and dominant bridge, creating a protective barrier and a distinctive retro-mountain look. The “haptic” experience is boosted by the patented perpetual 8-gon hinge, Hapter’s interlocking rotating mechanism with semi-curly temple tips for added comfort, inspired by sports glasses from the past.



Christophe Morcamp and Pascal Guidice are the duo behind Plein Les Mirettes, a French independent artisanal brand, producing creative feminine frames at one of the finest traditional factories in Evreux, Normandy. Morcamp,who designs the frames is fascinated by the never ending research for the perfect shapes, inspired by everything that surrounds us in our daily lives. He cites people, art, nature, everything – apart from fashion trends. “We don’t let fashion trends dictate our style. Our glasses are objects that make you unique,” he says. “And for that we are ready to break all the codes…” Plein Les Mirettes frames are based on traditional principles of French design and craftsmanship. Each model is the result of the experience and know-how of French craftsmen who have passed their expertise through generations. Their style is bold, stylish, colourful and original, with spectacular colour combinations, original mixes, and materials that are especially designed and developed by the Italian experts, Mazzucchelli. Conceived for all women the brand manages to combine style and functionality with a contemporary French twist. 2021 represents the brand’s 10th anniversary, and Morcamp promises a line of even more unique colours in celebration, as well as continuing in their pursuit of uniqueness and creativity with a line of furniture/cardboard POP display units that they have created in France through the months of pandemic.


A licenced collection with MMC’Eyewear in France, Steve McQueen Eyewear (SMQ) is dedicated to the “King of Cool”, an eyewear aficionado, fashion icon and influential movie star. First launched in 2019, the collection now consists of thirty men’s optical frames that evoke the style of the 1960s, with some models that are unisex and also appeal to women. Metal and acetate materials, and elegant style, that is both casual and vintage infused, with each model named after a place or a highlight that relates to McQueen and a moment in his life, the line is developed and produced exclusively in France with respect for tradition and attention to detail and design – to guarantee quality. Each piece of the frame is designed and produced especially for the brand, including hinges, nose pads and endtips that are all carefully combined. The Steve McQueen Eyewear collection is stocked exclusively by independent opticians. MMC’Eyewear first signed the exclusive license agreement for the development of their optical collection in 2016.




Their unique focus on translucent Italian acrylic material, with French artisan  production and bold and daring colour choices continues to propel the UK’s independent label Kirk & Kirk collection onto optical shelves around the world. Co-founders Jason and Karen Kirk – who are based in Brighton (UK) – have persisted in taking to the optical stage - year in year out - to talk about the opportunities of working with independent brands and their firm commitment to that – has clearly paid off. Nor has the pandemic changed that energy and focus, and their frames are bringing a whole new vibrant colour palette to their fan club around the world. The Kirk team have established successful digital contact and presentation formats with their customers and released a number of small special editions to keep things interesting and fresh. The latest, launched in April, was closely related to the Matte Centena Collection and featured just thirty sets of frames – available worldwide. The three shapes – Sam, Jarvis, and Horace – were released in matte Cadillac ‘pink’, matte Prince ‘purple’ and matte stone. While they look quite chunky and bold, giving them bags of personality, the super-light acrylic offers a fit that is supremely comfortable and easy to wear. 


The only independent eyewear brand in the Caribbean is making headway as a “brand to watch” in Europe and the USA. Founder and optometrist Alicia Hartman has put her heart and soul into spreading the word about her bold and colorful line of sunnies and optical frames which draw inspiration from the exotic lifestyle and colours of the Bajan way of life. The brand’s most recent creative step has been to launch their limited series of artist designed cleaning cloths. The first edition features work by Zoe Osborne, a tribute to Barbados life featuring sunsets and sundowners and traditional colours of the Caribbean island.


23. LAPIMA, Brazil

Widely recognised for its stylish design and handcrafted focus, LAPIMA has become much loved on the international fashion scene. Founded by husband and wife Gustavo and Gisela Assis in 2016 in Brazil, the couple have established their own artisan production in the small town of Campinas in the countryside of Sao Paolo. The frames are beautiful, bold and distinctive, with colours inspired by the Brazilian culture and tropical landscape and an exciting output of consistently unique - sometimes daring  -organic shapes. The brand opened their first luxury retail store in Sao Paolo in 2020, a window on the world of Lapima: “It’s an extrapolation of LAPIMA’s essence with a bold, minimalist architecture,” says Gisela Assis in a statement about the store which features a beautiful work by designer Claudia Moreira Salles and Brazilian green peace granite in a white, minimal interior.


24. FOLC EYEWEAR, Barcelona

Folc describes itself as “an anonymous brand, dedicated to those individuals that embrace the design and the quality of the products before the brand name”.. Created by the talented product designer Marta Linares from her studio in Barcelona, she designs the collections following her own personal values and likes with the most possible freedom. Folc is conceived with a design approach that attracts people who enjoy high quality product design pieces and the story behind them, always attempting to be as local and sustainable as possible. The collection is already available and well established on the shelves of some of the finest optical retailers worldwide, stores that appreciate Italian manufacture and the unique volumes, deep and sensitive colours and visual games of light and shade achieved in this line. In developing the image of the label, Linares has focused on the opportunities in Barcelona and Spain to work with an incredible network of creative people. “This is why we develop all our image world with local artists, photographers, stylists, filmmakers and producers,” she explains.



A new line from Australia by Teiger and Louise Sceats draws on experiences in storytelling and creative design with a new point of view on colour and pattern expressed in eyewear. Brand founder Teiger represents the third generation of Sceats in the optical industry in Australia and comes to optics with fresh eyes and new ideas, teaming with his mum who has long worked in optics. Our aim is to “incubate and build a brand ready to hatch and bring colour, joy, and excitement to a post COVID optical industry.” The frame styles build on a combination of fabric textures, colour and pattern to offer something “different, unique and a little bit special.”


26. LARA D', Italy

Italian designer Lara D’Alpaos is an advocate of decorated eyewear and joyful, colourful design, innovating in every detail to achieve a frame that has value as an item of jewellery and desirable, beautifully made fashion accessory which women can love. In her latest work for the Unique Line, the designer turns the focus on exceptional concepts of colour and the expression achieved on the frame when colour and glamorous detailing unite. The line features seven new models for women, each with artistically milled acetate constructions embedded on front and temples with tiny glimmering luxury crystals – a treat that transforms the eyewear into “a wearable work of art”.




Since announcing its new status as “an independent company”, NEUBAU has moved fast to show their focus and commitment to innovation and style with the launch of their first collab collection with fashion label ODEEH. The aim was to create a line built around collective understanding of high-quality materials in minimalist yet striking designs, which incorporate the latest technology and functional features.  A unique aspect of the designer edition is the launch of NEUBAU EYEWEAR’s first glasses made of titanium, a material that stands out with features such as a high flexibility, extreme lightness and long-lasting colour intensity. A further innovation is the development of a new hinge that works without screws, proving that every tiny little detail is taken into consideration in the production of completely sustainable models. Today, the Austrian label, headed up by Daniel Liktor, Global Brand Director, and first established in 2016, continues to base its concepts on the principles of a sustainable brand philosophy and materials which include the bio-based natural3D first introduced in 2020. Their extensive collections today include optical models and sunglasses and a number of special editions, including a concept inspired by Bauhaus – Walter & Wassily and a mask design based on an avant-garde 3D printed concept – Lotte & Hans.



Created in 2013 in Annecy in France, Shelter is rising to notoriety in optics with its focus on elegant, sustainable design using materials such as natural wood and bio-acetate. The company works with upcycled wood sheets from the French company Marotte with some of the designs characterised by compressed layers of wood with metal. The recent collaboration collection Fusion with Patrick Norguet, a designer of products, interiors and furniture – represents one of their most intriguing releases to date, with 10 designs inspired by architecture around the world  - with complex, innovative constructions combining bio acetate, metal and wood in interesting iconic shapes such as panto and square eye shapes, redefined to feel modern and contemporary with an audacious mood of glamour and style.


29. TYCHE + ISET EYEWEAR, Los Angeles

Woman-owned independent brand Tyche + Iset is the creation of Morganne Leigh, painter/graphic designer turned eyewear designer, based in Los Angeles. The collection has not reached Europe yet, but Leigh expects to launch the latest line in the region once restrictions are lifted post-pandemic.
Leigh is passionate about sustainable possibilities in eyewear, and has experimented with recycled materials as well as introducing sustainable and eco-friendly packaging. Her collections are imaginative, sensual, bold and intriguing, designed for “star gazers, lovers, adventurers, risk takers and thinkers.” The brand was recognised by the CFDA (Eyewear Designers of the CFDA) as the inaugural Talent Search Winner in 2020, with models from the latest Galapagos Collection. The label was also a finalist in the 2019 CFDA & Accessories Council program Elaine Gold Launch Pad.



Ferilli Eyewear is an independent eco-oriented brand based in Puglia, Southern Italy. Created in 2018, the label uses innovative eco-friendly materials including prickly pear fibre from their local area, a material that has a distinctive pattern and interesting natural surface. The brand’s second sunglasses collection Aéras" (from the Greek word ‘Aria’) is inspired by nature and lightness. The six new models, which are produced exclusively in Italy, are characterized by shapes and lens colours that are inspired by Puglia. The material has been carefully researched to achieve a weight of only 30 grams for each model – and the designs are also resistant in water, as well as comfortable, sustainable and the only styles of their kind to be made with prickly pear fibre. The models are named after the local communities of the Salento Peninsula: Gallipoli, Maglie and Ostuni, Porto Badisco, Leuca and Castro.


Other articles

Browse by tags