Last December, I walked into a store in Tucson, Arizona that sells originals from the 1980s and 1990s: sneakers, action figures, and accessories. This pair of glasses popped out. I love their big, bold, geometric shape and the gold detailing on the arm. They felt solid in my hands and, when I tried them on, I had to have them. I collect eyeglass vintage, nerdy frames; all by feel, I’m not expert.
When I took them to an optician to have them adjusted to fit me, the eyeglass tech helping me said he didn’t want to mess with them because they were old and expensive. It sparked my curiosity, so I researched their origins.
These are Cazal 607, aka the “cazzy.” The brand has become synonymous with hip-hop style. Darryl McDaniels of Run-D.M.C. is credited with bringing them to popular culture while wearing them in Run’s iconic videos of the mid-80s.
CAZAL is the line founded in 1979 by Austrian designer Carl Zalloni. He wanted to make a corrective eyeglasses frame made of 10-mm-strong acetate, a highly unusual material at the time. The material’s strength allows the design to cut many surface facets to producing an exhilarating play of light and reflection. CAZAL created a unique product that has retained its status for almost 40 years, as seen by Paul Pierce wearing them in a post-game interview. They are so desirable that a thriving knock-off industry has developed.
People compliment all the time when I’m wearing them; I feel like I’ve bought a bit of hip-hop cool. Somedays, I just like to hide behind a big pair of striking glasses.