written by Justin Fields photographed by Tim Sugden
Visiting with Paul Vu at EDA Frames in Beaverton is like visiting with a friend in their own home. The unassuming and comfortable office is guarded by a cheerful white maltipoo, and the chairs and magazines make for an inviting atmosphere to discuss eyewear style with Paul over coffee or tea.
This isn’t a typical eyeglass selection experience. Paul likes to get to know his customers and discuss their personal style needs before suggesting custom frames from his in-store selection or enticing them to design their own. Paul founded EDA when he realized the big chains were controlling the market with their mundane off-the-shelf selections.
State of the art laser cutting machines and skilled technicians help EDA to provide the perfect balance between craftsmanship, technology, and style. Couple that with Paul’s personable approach to service and you get a truly unique experience in selecting frames.
The frames you create are extremely one-of-a-kind, correct?
Yes, I’m the only company I know that can offer this level of customization. I can make a single frame to the customer’s exact size, color, print, finish, lens color, etc.
How did you get started in this endeavor?
I’ve been in the optical field for 18 years. I saw the trend in mass-produced frames and poor-quality online stores taking over the market. I wanted to provide a quality frame that consumers had a personal connection in making, not just a frame they picked off the board.
How is a custom design created from a customer’s vision?
It’s quite easy. They can send me a sketch on a napkin, a set of pictures, or the actual frame. We then convert it to a 2D CAD file for their review. It’s like a blueprint of the frame with all the specifications. They can revise until it’s how they envision it. Then they pick the color, finish, and text for both inside temples. Once they approve of the proofs, we send it into production. It takes anywhere from four to six weeks for their custom frame to arrive.
You named a particular type of frame after former Mayor Sam Adams. What is the story behind that?
I’ve lived in Portland for 41 years and grew up watching Sam on TV and he’s always wearing iconic glasses. So when I started EDA I thought about marketing with very little budget. I contacted Sam and told him my story. I met him at his office for a private frame consultation. We went through the whole process of customizing a pair of buffalo horn frames. When he received them, he sent out a Tweet and five minutes later a reporter from Willamette Week called me for the inside story. This was my first real press. I’ve been using this same idea every since.
Who else have you designed glasses for?
I’ve made frames for Bruno Mars, Teddy Riley, Gene Simmons, Seth Aaron, Stevie Boi, and a few others I can’t mention.
How do you connect with fashion designers?
I’ve worked with a few local and international designers. I am their best friend because I can create a unique custom collection of sunglasses for their runway shows without a large investment. I love the experience of working with other creative minds and the whole fashion world fascinates me.
What are the different types of customization that are available?
Each EDA frame you can specify the size, color, print, finish, hinge design, and lens color. I use cotton based sheet acetate, wood, buffalo horn, and various metals. You can add an Asian Bridge, nose pads, and metal decorations. We can also laser patterns or add your logo. If you can dream it, I can make it.
What is coming up in the future for EDA?
I am working on some exciting projects for 2017. I am creating new collection for fashion designers Stevie Boi and Lindsay Lowe. I have a meeting with Bloomingdales in early January on some collaboration. I added a beautiful beta titanium collection from Japan called VARG. I will welcome Tenax Eyewear to provide the same bespoke services in Canada. The Vietnam Veterans of America have asked me to design some sunglasses to help raise funds for their many programs.
Do you partner with any organizations to give back to the community?
Currently, I have a line of frames with dog paws on the temples which I’ve partnered with Canidae Dog Food Company. So for every frame sold, I donate a bag of dog food to the local shelter.
I’ve also heard you have been working with some very unique materials. What’s up with that?
I’m in the early stages of creating frames from a new 100% plant based bio-plastics. When done, it should be the first plant based bio-degradable frame of its kind. This will help reduce the million of frames that enters our landfills every year.