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Drift Eyewear continues Delta Blues, adds literature-based frames

Chicago’s Drift Eyewear brought a literary bent to this year’s Vision Expo at the Javits Center, adding to the music theme of its best-selling Delta Blues line.

Drift Eyewear's Jana Ayars models a frame at Vision Expo.
Chris MantzJana Ayars

Calling it “a simple iteration of the existing aesthetic,” company founder/designer Chris Mantz showed two new models, the Dagny—named after Dagny Taggart, the protagonist of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, and the first Drift frame targeted specifically at female buyers—and the Kilgore, honoring the Kilgore Trout character in Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s Slaughterhouse-Five, also the only Vonnegut character to appear in more than one novel.

The Dagny and Kilgore frames join the Caulfield, Drift’s eyewear take on Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield, and the Atticus, which evokes Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.

“I think about the character and hope to create a style that fits—that might actually be worn by the character,” said Mantz, who, incidentally, was wearing the Atticus at the show.

The Atticus frame, in fact, resembles the eyeglasses worn by Gregory Peck, who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Finch in the classic film version of To Kill a Mockingbird; eyewear supplier Oliver Peoples marketed a Gregory Peck frame likewise patterned after Finch’s glasses in 2011, and it became one of the company’s most popular frames.

Meanwhile, Drift will bring out two new versions of its Delta Blues template in the spring. The distinctive line features temples made out of “sinkercypress”—dense cypress trees that had been harvested over a century ago in Mississippi Delta logging camps and floated up the river, but due to their density, had sunk to the bottom.

Reclaimed today, the wood is now gorgeously textured and patterned by the waters and minerals and mud that seeped into it over the decades. It’s a perfect fit conceptually, in that much of the historic blues music genre originated in the Delta--and is hence known as "Delta blues"—and that the blues eventually migrated north to Chicago.

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