This week, we interviewed our good friends and partners at blinc in Tokyo, Japan. blinc carries a highly curated selection of Japanese and international brands: we're proud to work with their business and to be a part of their collection.
We spoke with Naoto Yazawa and Junichi Tashiro, store managers of blinc aoyama and blinc vase respectively, about their relationship with Lowercase and the shop’s response to COVID-19.
blinc's storefront in Tokyo
How long have your stores been closed because of COVID-19? Have they re-opened?
NY: blinc aoyama has been closed since the Japanese government declared a state of emergency. In the weeks before our store closure, all our staff wore masks and we kept the front door open for ventilation. We sterilized our optical equipment and other tools multiple times throughout the day.
JT: We've also closed Blinc Vase since the government declared a state of emergency. Right now, we are simply determined to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Are you seeing different shopping attitudes from customers after the quarantine has been lifted?
NY: Leading up to the shutdown, we saw a rise in inquiries at both stores regarding maintenance and repairs.
How do you spend your time during quarantine?
NY: I'm at home taking care of my 1.5 year old daughter because her daycare is closed. Frankly, it's busier being at home than at the store, but we're enjoying the extra family time.
JT: I've been playing a lot of instruments and playing music. I want to enjoy doing what I can do while home, and stay positive.
Left: Naoto Yazawa
What are your customers' reactions to Lowercase frames?
NY: Many customers are drawn to Lowercase frames because of the details that show their craftsmanship. They also like to experiment with the playful use of color and lens shapes that are distinctive to the Lowercase brand.
JT: There are quite a number of people who are interested in Made in USA products, especially now that there are so few of them. They also want to incorporate something in their everyday life that is truly handmade with care.
inside blinc vase
Japan has a long history of craftsmanship when it comes to eyewear. How have you introduced a new manufacturer from NYC into your store?
NY: I agree that Japanese frames are made with great precision, but I feel the most attractive thing about Lowercase frames is that they are handmade. The frames have this particular finish that is only possible through careful handwork. We ask our customers to enjoy that feeling.
JT: Japanese frames tend to be high in precision but also feel quite mechanical. Every Lowercase frame feels different and personal because of its handmade manufacturing. I tell our customers to please find your own Lowercase frame to enjoy.
blinc vase's storefront in Tokyo
What has been the most popular lowercase frame?
NY: At our Gaienmae store, the Atlas is the most popular among men. Steeplechase is the most popular among women.
JT: The Marlton is the most popular frame at blinc vase!
What is your favorite lowercase frame?
NY: I love Basil!
JT: My favorite is the Atlas -- I wear them at home all the time.