1 Lab Rabbit Optics
1104 N. Ashland Ave.
Perfect for:The pragmatic hipster
The goods:Coyote DeGroot’s one-man operation is as memorable as his name: Decorated with animal skulls and taxidermied frogs, this East Ukrainian Village business features handmade collections made in small batches, including DeGroot’s own Japan-manufactured designs. His taste leans simple and versatile, but there’s still magic in the details, like frames that incorporate laminated bird feathers.
Expect to spend:$230 to $670
2 Eye Want
1726 W. Chicago Ave.
Perfect for:The nonconformist
The goods:You won’t find brand names at this quirky East Ukrainian Village shop, which stocks never-been-worn vintage frames of the last seven decades. Owner Annette Sollars, a self-described “eyewear dominatrix,” is merciless in her dedication to helping customers. “I am whipping frames into abject subservience to serve my customers’ every whim and desire,” she says, “no matter how glitzy, gritty, salacious, or ascetic.”
Expect to spend:$75 to $20,000
3 Contacts and Specs
3123 N. Broadway; 2644 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Perfect for:The suave sophisticate
The goods:This Chicago fixture prides itself on finding small, artisanal collections. “We have everything from the low-key to the sublimely ridiculous,” says manager Jimmy Gilliland. The stores are tailored to their respective neighborhoods: In Logan Square, au courant specs perch on repurposed skateboards, while the Boystown site spotlights specimens like camo spectacles with safety-orange temples.
Expect to spend:$250 to $22,000
4 Aardvark Eyewear
2456 N. Western Ave.
Perfect for:Your little one
The goods:This unassuming Logan Square building is home to the city’s only spectacles shop dedicated to youngsters, from infants to teens (petite-faced adults are welcome, too). Find a diverse roster of kid-approved names like Tony Hawk, Hello Kitty, and Nike aimed to excite pintsize customers. Onsite opticians custom-fit frames and teach the prescription lens rules (no letting friends try them on!) for first-time wearers.
Expect to spend:$75 to $290