Kala has been hand making acetate frames in Hayward, California since 1992. That in itself makes them special in the eyecare industry, but it isn't what is indeed the most fascinating aspect about Kala. Their products are VERY good and carry an unbelievable price tag.
Each frame is crafted from Mazzucchelli acetate, an Italian company founded 1849, widely known for producing the most desirable acetates in the world. Acetate is essentially a plastic, but it is made from plant material and formed in layers to give it a rich complexity. Unlike most plastic frames seen today that are simply petroleum derivatives squirted into molds, the frame parts are individually cut from these sheets, hand polished and assembled into the frame.
Kala references classic frame designs, but unlike the newcomers to the "retro" revolution, happily stamping their clones out in a Chinese factory running 'round the clock, Kala frames are made by hand. Their frames don't just look like the glasses Clark Kent wore, they are made the same way his were, out of the same materials. Holding them in your hands, side by side, they are as different as a Timex and a Rolex.
There's another new breed of retro, those made in Europe out of the same materials as Kala and using the same methods as Kala. They just cost 300% more. Needless to say, you won't find those brands at Artisan Eye Works.
Kala was inducted into the Made in the USA Foundation's Hall of Fame in 2014.