More than a decade after its decline, Matsuda is back on the market with a new owner and a new outlook. Although it has remained a coveted label among savvy fashionistas in the intervening years, the Japanese eyewear company’s cult status is poised for popular rebirth. Through a deft combination of craftsmanship and sleek product design, Cartier veteran James Kisgen has honored the bygone brand’s roots while imbuing it with fresh appeal for a new generation.
Although initially shut down due to changing management at its parent company and shifting consumer tastes in the ’90s, Matsuda optics and sunglasses have nonetheless remained sought-after specs among in-the-know collectors. Marked by impeccable design details, high quality materials and artisanal craftsmanship, the brand’s original incarnation set an industry standard long before European or North American fashion houses even broached the accessories market.
Kisgen’s approach to the company’s regenesis emphasizes a deep appreciation for this heritage and enduring appeal.”Matsuda is a timeless brand,” he explains. “In the same way that people are still wearing vintage Matsuda frames today, we want to make sure that people will be wearing ‘new’ Matsuda styles 20 years from now.”
By working with the label’s original craftsmen and seeing that products are handmade in Japan, Kisgen has ensured that the brand adheres to its core quality tenants. Aesthetically, the new Matsuda collection also features nods to the past with the Heritage Collection (limited edition re-issues of original designs) and the Essential Collection (consisting of new designs that incorporate details from the original line). Additionally, Matsuda now offers the Precious Collection, which includes hand-engraved sterling silver and 18k gold pieces that, though new, keep in step with the brand’s enduring elegance.
“To have heritage is to have a story,” Kisgen remarks. “If you look at the great brands that have stood the test of time, almost all of them have an incredible story to tell. This captivates people and helps them connect on an emotional level with the brand. We are fortunate to have a brand that has such a strong heritage.”
And we are glad that Matsuda’s story continues to be written.