Solakzade glasses and jewellery (plus Goro’s)

Monday, May 29th 2023
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Every day we were in Tokyo and walked down Omotesando Hills, there would be a long queue on a rail near the metro station. 

We assumed the queue was for some hype-driven 'drop' of streetwear, and to be fair most of the time they were. But these patient Japanese were there for a shop founded by a now-dead silver craftsman, the first Japanese to be allowed to participate in an American Indian Sundance rite. 

Goro Takahashi died in 2013, but in his lifetime he became a legend for his Indian jewellery and leatherwork. He started in 1956 and set up the Omotesando shop in 1972, and the look he popularised still persists today - it’s the same feather-dominated jewellery you see in many workwear stores.

The reason there’s usually a queue outside his shop is that the jewellery (now made by a team run by the family) is only available there; he never wanted any stockists. Ironically this means buying a piece is similar to acquiring a hype brand: you need to queue, join a raffle, and can only buy one each. 

Goro’s mismatch of demand and supply has created that same dynamic, even though the object of desire is fine jewellery rather than a cheaply made T-shirt. 

Today’s article, however, is not about Goro’s (though if you want some and can’t get to Japan, the best sources are resell sites like Rinkan or Grailed.) 

Instead it’s about the vintage eyewear dealer and jeweller Solakzade, who occupy the two floors below. 

I mention Goro for context, as Solakzade are the only other tenants allowed in the terracotta-painted building that Goro acquired in the 1990s, when he was under pressure to move out of the increasingly commercialised district. It is a point of faith to Solakzade that they work under Goro’s blessing. 

I first met the founders Ryo and Tatsuya Okamoto four years ago, when Kenji Cheung of Bryceland’s briefly introduced me (he’s a big customer). And to be honest I found them pretty intimidating. 

They both tend to wear large, bold sunglasses, multiple types of jewellery, and clothing they design themselves - often religiously inspired. Their father was a buddhist monk, their mother a Christian, and those traditions come through in the shop as well as how they dress.

It turns out the brothers are absolutely lovely, however - just quiet, and intense. This time we had an hour talking through their passion for sunglasses and hand-made jewellery, and it was frankly inspiring. 

The shop is very personal, in several ways. Ryo and Tatsuya designed it themselves and even built parts of it, including the large carved doors on the first floor. Inside, they are keen to take a lot of time with each customer, learning what makes them tick and what piece would suit their personality. 

“Eyewear and jewellery used to be much more personal, designed specifically for the individual,” says Tatsuya, who does most of the talking and whose English is considered, careful.

The brothers both talk about things like getting the customer “to open their heart”, or that the resulting piece “becomes like an amulet, something protective”. This could sound woolly, even phoney, but when you meet them you're in no doubt: they are completely sincere and take what they do very seriously. 

It’s also hard to argue with the results. Someone like Kenji, who amounts to an obsessive collector of eyewear, reveres them, and even though they keep a low profile (perhaps even because of that) the likes of Kanye West and Kate Moss are regulars. Bob Dylan was due in the day we visited. 

“We do want to cater to everyone, every personality and taste,” says Tatsuya. Price is obviously a barrier, as frames start at £300 and run into the thousands, but they also believe only certain styles suit certain people - students, artists, professionals. 

“Some people wear these big frames that don’t suit their personality or their face,” he says. “It takes time to walk through the design history and see what works.”

In my small way I agree, having tried many styles over the years and made various mistakes. People tend to think they can wear a much wider range of glasses (even sunglasses) than they can. See articles on Bonnet analysing my frames or the value of good advice

The shadowy Solakzade space - full of gold mirrors and seventies chandeliers - is essentially a history of 200 years of eyewear, ranging from 1940s Ray-Bans to futuristic Philippe Chevalier styles, rare Cartier designs to rose-tinted 1990s Gaultier frames. 

Tatsuya’s favourite period is the 1960s: “It was the point at which the classic turned to the modern,” he says. “There was a lot of energy then, everyone trying new things.” Again the word ‘energy’ comes up a lot when discussing both glasses and jewellery, but you know what he means, indeed when you start talking in those terms you can feel it in the designs - how subtle or dramatic they are, how conservative or original. 

The jewellery is more expressive and personal still. Again this is something I’ve always thought about jewellery (which is probably why I remember him saying it...). 

Jewellery should be special, even unique. It used to be made for someone as a result of an interaction with a craftsperson, and in that way is more akin to a tattoo than a piece of clothing.

Like a tattoo you wear jewellery close, next to the skin, and men’s jewellery is often hidden. It doesn’t make sense to follow a fashion or have the same as everyone else. 

“There is so much symbolism in jewellery,” says Tatsuya. “Some people used to wear a centipede, for example, because it’s an animal that cannot move backwards - it’s about never being able to retreat or give up.”

The jewellery part of Solakzade is a little more recent, founded five years after the eyewear. It’s also a little less accessible, although the brothers have recently started making their own: “We wanted to practise the craft, not necessarily to sell but to understand them from the inside,” says Tatsuya. 

One result is the gold earrings below, which both the brothers were wearing. Each is hammered by hand into different but similar permutations, in 24 carat gold.  

Like Goro’s, Solakzade’s vintage eyewear is not something that can be easily accessed, as you need to visit the shop. The only easy way to buy into it is through the pieces they make for Bryceland’s - the Winston and Politician styles. (Winston below on me.)

Still, I know a lot of readers were asking about recommendations for places to visit in Tokyo and this would certainly be one of mine. Some shops should be destinations, just like Bryceland’s used to be before London, before e-commerce. 

At least there’s no queue or raffle system for Solakzade, yet. 

Solakzade: 4 Chome-29-4 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo. Opening hours are 2pm-7pm.


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Robert M

They look like they could be in a Takashi Miike movie – and that’s great!


It appears that the sunglasses are not available in Brycelands’ London store. Is that correct? If so, the price will be at least £380 plus shipping! The range in Chiltern Street is much smaller and seems to be targeting a niche (Hipster?) market. They are also out of my size in the few items that are of real interest to me. It’s disappointing as I had high expectations.


Thanks, that’s good to know and reassuring. It was your Winston green (or olive?) frame that caught my eye. Banton Frameworks in Scotland has an olive frame (£375 plus prescription lens cost) which I have been considering – They also seem very well made with 8mm acetate.

Matt L

I’d love to hear more about picking the right eye glasses, if you’re open to suggestions for future articles.

Matt L

I feel that I learned something already! Most advice on glasses online talk about identifying your “face shape”, like this one –

This is the first time I’ve heard someone talk about just the eye socket.

Matt L

This is all gold. I’d love a full article on this stuff, and the other factors such as personality. Your line here is terrifying in it’s own way:

People tend to think they can wear a much wider range of glasses (even sunglasses) than they can.

I’m now a lot more anxious about choosing frames!


I’d second that.
My own experience , being a glasses wearer of 4 decades, is that the high street is useless .
The independents whilst being better are often trying to push certain stock.
I recently brought a pair if Lindbergh and am very happy but it was lot of research , legwork and going beyond the sales chatter that got be there.
Including lens and frame even a good pair can be £1000 plus and will sit on your face long enough to become your face and multiple pairs at those prices are not an option.
And then every two years or so your prescription changes making older pairs practically useless .

P.S. on the article …. I love the intensity with which Japanese craftspeople view things that others merely look beyond .


That’s some seriously cool people!


Great interview. I will try to visit their store when I go to Japan, though probably just for the experience. It’s a nice thing to finally find “your” pair of glasses – the pair that perfectly suits your face and style. When you do, you stick with it.


Had the chance to meet them and visit, unfortunately did not planned it properly. But they deserve a visit and they are absolutely lovely and knowledgeable. I promess, next time, I’ll plan my visit better.


I might have missed this, but do they do bespoke spectacles in addition to their vintage collection?


I love how knowledgeable you are about fashion and even as a woman your articles have been of great value for me in understanding different fabrics, leather and brands. I want to ask you is there any blog or YT channel you recommend which discuss women fashion in the same manner? Thank you in advance!


A great example of in-person service. By the way Simon, where is the cream knit from ? (Looks like partly cotton but it has a Shetland collar?)


Looks great! Do you know what size you’ve got? Does it run big? They still have it and based on the size chart (and a Shetland I have from them) I should be small (39” chest roughly) which seems odd.


Thanks for this one Simon, Solakzade is now firmly on my stop list when I visit in the coming years.

Another reader rightly makes the point, Japanese craftspeople seem to have this intensity for detail, from eyewear, to jewellery, leather jackets, fine shoes. Across the spectrum, I don’t know if the same can be found anywhere else.


And now I think about it, you’ve covered a number of French makers over the years. Short sighted of me in fact, glad you highlighted them. Had to Google both of your references right away, this is one of the many reasons PS is what it is, always learning.