Vintage-inspired eyewear isn't a new concept by any stretch of the imagination, but Gentlemonster reworks the classics with an emphasis on innovation. Buddy Holly specs and brow line glasses take on a modern edge with sleek angles whereas changeable faceplates give Wayfarers a much-needed update. Frames from the '50s to '70s serve as points of reference, but strictly in a design sense.
"We actually don't get inspired by particular periods of fashion," founder Hankook Kim tells CH. "In fact, we love Steve Jobs and his craft. We get so much inspiration from his obsession with perfection and beauty."
Based in Seoul, South Korea, Gentlemonster got its start like many other independent eyewear makers: Kim is an avid collector of vintage glasses. "I started to make eyewear because I know about glasses better than other accessories," he says. Previously, Kim worked for an English education company, launching the label in February 2011.
Gentlemonster is proud of its craft and documented the process from start and finish. Instead of injection molding, frames are carved from a sheet of acetate and finished by hand. With two designers collaborating with Kim, design and development are just as intensive. "We make at least more than ten blueprints of one model," he says. "And then we choose three good ones and make samples, of which we choose one."
While Kim tells us Gentlemonster is not influenced by Korean culture or style, the label reflects the nation's growing appetite for fashion. "Trend changes are very fast in Korea, so there's no winner and no forever," says Kim. "And people get so tired of designs. That's why we make lots of designs every month."
But Gentlemonster is not all work and no play. Letting creativity run loose, "Project B" brings unrestrained ideas and one-off concepts to life, such as frames with real flowers, grass and soil and glasses inspired by the mask of Zorro. "The reason we do this is to express our imagination freely," he says.