THOM BROWNE'S NEW SPECS Fashion designer Thom Browne recently rolled out his latest brand extension -- a collection of retro-cool unisex sunglasses and optical frames inspired by architects, politicians, industry and design of the 1940s, '50s and '60s.Besides being a stylish selection of shades that key perfectly into the TB aesthetic, the eyewear program is noteworthy not only because it marks the label's first foray into licensed products, but also because the company behind the fabulous frames is Los Angeles-based Dita Eyewear.

It also happens to be the first license deal for the independently owned eyewear company, founded in1996 by childhood friends Jeff Solorio and John Juniper. Dita has all of its wares handmade in Japan, where the process can take from six months to a year.

Browne and Dita's co-founders have a longtime personal friendship, a Dita representative said, and the company has frequently been called on to craft the spectacular spectacles that appear in Browne's over-the-top menswear presentations.

That relationship eventually grew into the 27 pieces, ranging in price from $450 to $1,000, that comprise the collection that debuted on the shelves of Barneys New York, Robert Marc eyewear shops and Browne's Hudson Street store in New York City, and in Los Angeles at the Dita Legends boutique at 7625 Melrose Ave.


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One part "Mad Men," one part Michael Douglas' glasses in "Falling Down," and a soupcon of steampunk, the inaugural offerings tweak the familiar Wayfarer and aviator silhouettes, with circle lenses and leather or metal mesh side cups that serve up just the right amount of Thom Browne quirk (in that "we're-ready-for-nuclear-winter" kind of way).The color palette is grounded in smoke gray, silver and tortoiseshell, with Browne's trademark red-white-and-blue signature barely visible at the tip of each earpiece.

The next installment -- which will build on the unisex frames by adding specific looks for men and women -- is due for spring/summer 2012 and expected to be available in March.

--Los Angeles Times