Like tipping back a pint of your favorite microbrew or buying a hammer at your neighborhood hardware store, choosing a new pair of sunglasses can be an exercise not only in seeking out supreme quality—but also supporting the underdog.
In our second of three investigations into up-and-coming, innovative, artisanal sunglass brands, we turn a spotlight on the time-tested Italian craftsmanship of Dom Vetro (whose supreme-quality clear acetate is pictured above left). Keep reading for a closer look at a brand that’s invigorating a nearly lost art, including a Q&A with their founder.
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PART 2 of 3: DOM VETRO
Handmade in: The Italian Alps
Claim to fame: Continuing a Centuries-Old Tradition
We spoke with: Ashley Bezamat, Founder & CEO
MEN’S SHOP DAILY: What does your job consist of?
ASHLEY BEZAMAT OF DOM VETRO: “My job is really about the search and expression of beauty through products and stories that reflect my own personal journey as a man. I’m always dreaming about new ideas, and I’m passionate about sharing them.”
What sets Dom Vetro apart from other sunglass brands?
“People want to know how their glasses are made and where they come from. Telling this story is a key element of our brand. You’re not just buying another pair of sunglasses—you’re becoming a patron of a rich legacy in the Italian Alps. We filmed a short documentary about this community and our Maestri, the craftsmen who make our glasses and are the backbone of our company.”
What are some details of the materials or production process that customers should know about?
“The most common feedback I get when people try our sunglasses is how great they feel to the touch, and that’s because of our modo di lavoro [method of work], as we say in Italian, as well as the materials we use. Our production is in the Italian Alps, where glasses production started in the 17th century. We only work with small artisans here, and it’s our mission to ensure that they continue making frames as they have for generations. Our patrons understand the importance of this, but also realize that they’re getting a higher quality product when they buy a pair of Dom Vetro sunglasses. Our frames are worked by hand, and we only use polarized mineral-glass lenses. The clarity, the colors—everything looks better through our lenses because we use the best.”
Why is it important to own a high-quality pair of sunglasses?
“Our sunglasses change the way you see the world and how the world sees you. That’s a bold statement, but it’s true. Most importantly, you need to have a pair of sunglasses you can rely on to protect your eyes from UV in various light conditions. Not all sunglasses are created equally. Lenses make a huge difference in terms of UV protection, but also comfort. Taking it a step further, our lenses actually have pigments designed to enhance colors within the spectrum of light, making things appear more alive. That, combined with the polarization, allows you to see the outlines of the clouds with more definition, for example, or squint less. As far as the frames, hight-quality ones last longer, and they look better—which is important for something that’s going to be worn on your face.”
What’s one of your favorite pairs of Dom Vetro sunglasses currently?
“When investing in a pair of sunglasses, it’s important to consider the clothes you wear, the shape of your face and your daily activities. There’s a frame for everything, but one of my current favorites is the Rum ‘Lupetto’. The darker tortoise color is classic. It works spring, summer, fall and winter, and complements the largest number of skin tones. This shape is particular because of the thin temples, which are elegant and can be dressed up or down; it’s my everyday frame. I love the keyhole bridge design, because it’s thinner and lighter than most bridges. The ‘Lupetto’ is also great for casual wear and the outdoors. I wear these to go skiing because the polarized lenses offer me the protection and visibility I need, while the frames are lightweight and comfortable.”
[The inscription on the arm says it all.]
Who are your top sunglass icons of all time?
“The two most iconic images of sunglasses that stand out in my mind are those of JFK and Steve McQueen. JFK was a man of culture and style, from foreign affairs and the White House to boating, cigar smoking and reading the newspaper. There are many images of him in those iconic sunglasses, and they never cease to capture my imagination. Steve McQueen’s classic tortoiseshell glasses with the blue lenses, alongside a sexy sports car, epitomize the height of Italian men’s style and design.”
[Here’s a short clip about Bezamat’s mission to preserve a dying art in the Italian Alps.]
To what locations do you recommend wearing a pair of Dom Vetro sunglasses this summer?
“Barcelona is a colorful, metropolitan city on the coast with a lot of sunshine and its own very unique culture, language and art. You’ll want to experience all that color and the secrets of the city with the right polarized lenses, of course. Sun Valley, Idaho, is an ideal summer spot for a man who’s looking to enjoy the great outdoors with the cosmopolitan feel of a vibrant and upscale shopping village. You want to ride in comfort and shop in style, and our sunglasses fit the bill in terms of their versatility and performance. Santo Stefano di Sessanio is one of the coolest medieval cities I’ve visited recently. It was abandoned for decades and is now being restored in a way that reflects its inherent architectural history, while promoting the sustainability of local artisans and craftspeople. You’ll need some good sunglasses and a camera with a wide-angle lens for the drive up. It gets better at each windy turn until you get to the top, which you can only reach by foot.”
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[Photos by Justin Abbott]