Windows Into The Future: We Took a Tour of Topology's Chic SF Office
New year, new better-fitting glasses that won't slide off your face at the slight of a mouse cough.
The outer doorway leading into Topology San Francisco-based headquarter is humbling, if not misleading to a degree. Because, just on the other side of that unbecoming entryway, exists a bastion of creativity, ingenuity, and industry-changing eyewear technology.
Admittedly, I’m not a man of materials. I have three pairs of shoes; I drive a Plug-in Prius; I, certainly, could fit all my belongings and clothes in the hatch of said aforementioned hybrid. I like things that last, things that are constructed well without side-stepping character and substance. One could argue that eyewear (and watches) epitomize the sole notion of what we can wear on our bodies that showcases our admiration for both those: character and construction.
Sitting behind one of the desks found quaintly behind a table populated with copious bits of eyewear more akin to the hardware found in luxury watches than anything else; I waited for the CEO Eric Varady to get off a quick call. Rena, their sublime, intelligent public-relations client, half-whispered he’d be give me a tour shortly.
I assumed my eyes, perhaps, began to glaze over. But they were far from hazed, more so taken aback by the sheer amount of carbon-fiber resilient in my line of sight.
“Matt, is it?” Eric said, shaking my hand.
“Yes, yes it is!” I said smitten. “And, by the way, this place is a wonderland for every tech-savvy craftsmen, if I do say so myself.”
In each direction I looked, I was enchanted by what one could simply describe as steward-like dedication and a zealous commitment to detail. A beautifully erected cabinet pedestaling their materials shouldered the wall just outside the curing and consturciton area, an expansive room where the eyewear makers craft each pair with a surgeon’s precision. And, in a sense, quite literally.
As Eric and I continued to walk through the facility, professing our mutual love for well-fitting eyewear and quality build materials, I couldn’t help but ask more about the machinery to my left and right.
“We cut our plastic eyewear frames from whole blocks of cellulose acetate imported from Italy using incredibly accurate computer- controlled milling machines, and we lasercut our metal frames from large sheets of domestically-sourced super-hard stainless steel.”Eric told me, shifting his gaze to the autoclaves—which are, essentially, large high-temperature ovens capable of curing the raw materials they use—to his right.
“Once that’s done and to our liking, we then bake them to fortify their molecular structure, inevitably strengthening them beyond what other commercial companies can offer.”
As someone who’s bridge between their nose and forehead tends to bend every pair of glasses I’ve ever owned in unfitting fashions, it was reassuring to know there was an eyewear maker who was piecing together glasses that may never need readjustments after purchase. Or, at the very least, far fewer.
“We, truly, make every pair to order. There’s nothing here that’s pre-cut or batch-made. When we get an order with the customers video selfie, that’s when, and only when we start the process.”
Now, more on that “video selfie.” What may be Topology’s calling card—aside from their stoicism to quality and fit—may be their use of facial recognition software to help measure a customer’s facial fit...without ever having an in-person fitting.
In fact, much to that same high-tech gadgetry is found in the iPhone X—and any iPhone, for that matter—which works in tandem with Apple’s newest hella hyped smartphone.
“Basically, we take a 180-degree video using your smartphone’s front-facing to scan your full face, then we overlay that with the APP to get a the measurements to mold your glasses from,” he said. “And this also means we can give the customers the benefit of seeing how the glasses they’ve selected and chosen will look on them...before we've made it.”
(And, now officially a customer of the disruptive eyewear company, I can wholeheartedly attest to the fact that the APP is incredibly intuitive and gives those who opt to buy a pair of their glasses a lense—pun intended—into the future of how we buy our eyewear, on- or off-line.)
As we continued to meander through the open aired facility, making note to discuss the wall of resin-plastics and other luxe idiosyncrasies, I became quickly aware that our time was quickly coming to an end; my parking meter was about to expire about a mile or so away.
And, being bay area locals, we’re all too aware of the uncanny, attentive third eye all SFMTA employees seem to possess.
So, with a shared smile and strong handshakes, Eric and I said our goodbyes, shortly before Rena walked me to the me out, flanked by boundless courtesy.
“Thank you so much again for stopping by,” she said, waxing poetic with gratitude. “Let me know when you download the app, and I’ll keep you up to date on when we can get you a pair.”
“Gladly,” I responded.
“Now let’s just hope the parking police aren’t as accurate as that app’s APP.”
// Topology's Eyewear starts at $545 for Rx and a bit more depending on the type of Rx. They also do non prescription and sunglasses."