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Retro Chic in WeHo

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Above: Jay Owen’s of RetroSpecs holds a pair of The Saratoga made famous by JFK.

August 2019 – West Hollywood

Shades of Summer

Going RetroSpecs in WeHo & Embracing Retro Chic

On 5th Street East goes local in WeHo with the Sotheby’s of historic, hyper chic eyewear

Jaimie Lee Curtis crushes a chic pair of RetroSpecs here


In the late 80’s, Jay Owens was in search of a pair of glasses that worked –  and looked cool.

Jay Owens, the co-founder of RestroSpecs, had to wear glasses in the late 1980s and was always in search of a pair that worked and looked halfway decent. “All the frames at that time either didn’t fit or were huge.” So Jay went hippy retro.

He hit the road in an RV and found a small gold frame in an antique store, which he restored and wore.

(Author’s interpretation: John Lennon comes to mind.)

John Lennon

Author’s interpretation of iconic Hippy Poet, Musician, Artist, Humanitarian and All Things Magnificent – the timeless John Lennon in Shades.

Jay travelled the country from Natchez to New England, as we say in Georgia “antiquing”.

(Translation: the act of going from antique store to antique store, usually with great aunts and cousins).

Sourcing antique frames, still in an RV, Jay needed help on the medical optical front . “I needed someone to help custom fit and put the lenses in.”

Marya Francis, a lifelong lover of fashion who studied pre-med at Berkeley but decided it wasn’t for her, had just left a design job in fashion and had been working in a café in Venice Beach next to an optical store.  “RetroSpecs was part fashion part medical,” she says.

Marya left the café and went to work for the company.

1970s Dior Shades. RetroSpecs, 555 Norwich Drive, West Hollywood. RetroSpecs co-owner Marya Francis wore a pair of 70s Dior Shades to our interview. #Speechless

“We went for a quick coffee which lasted six hours,” says Jay. “She was 25 and I was 30 and still living in an RV traveling the country.”

Marya Francis, RetroSpecs co-owner and Creative Director (and Jay’s wife), is super fashionable and understated.


Marya Francis and Jay Owens, co-owners of RetroSpecs, at Zinque´in West Hollywood, August 2019. Interviewed by On 5th Street East’s Anna Cheshire Levitan

Wearing a white linen jumpsuit and historic 1970s Dior shades, we order our Zinque´ lattes exactly the same: whole milk with a pinch of raw sugar. (And agree: whole milk is very un-LA.)

Now the world’s largest retailer of restored, registered, custom fit historic eyewear and supplier of historic eyewear parts, Jay and Marya are riding the RestroSpecs success wave with stores in LA, San Francisco and Vegas, and distribution to 250 exclusive optical stores in cities around the world.

In 2014, Jay and Marya created Cuthbert & Chen (Jay’s middle name and Marya’s maiden name), a new fashion eyewear brand that merges old world craftsmanship “fit and feel” with new world fashion design and manufacturing.

“Marya’s family was extremely fashionable, and they were capitalists. They fled Shanghai to Hong Kong in the late 1940s,” says Jay. “With Cuthbert & Chen we’re honoring our legacies and distilling out the best of RestroSpecs qualities into an affordable option.”


Jay Owens and Marya Francis, co-owners Retrospecs, in front of the RetroSpecs vault. Housing RetroSpecs collection of priceless historic eyewear, the vault weighs over 5,000 lbs. and survived the great Chicago fire. 

“Even in the digital age, people want to feel something. Experience something that is real. We’re the slow food movement of eyewear.” Jay Owens, Co-owner RetroSpecs

Hunter Levitan and Anna Cheshire Levitan

Hunter Levitan and Anna Cheshire Levitan embracing Retro Chic Shades of Summer. 

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Welcome to On 5th Street East, a weekly column on trends, tips and profiles in travel, design, lifestyle, hospitality, homes and development.

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