For Decades, Matsuda Eyewear Ranked as One of the Most Desirable Luxury Eyewear Brands On The Market. What Happened and Is a Revival in The Works?

Opticians and optometrists can attest that sometimes a good office cleaning can result in discovering buried treasure.

Which is exactly what happened at Urban Optiques recently.Matsuda Eyewear, Matusda Eyeglasses & Matsuda Sunglasses from Urban Optiques

While sorting through some boxes of old stock, we discovered a treasure trove of brand-new Matsuda eye glasses and sunglasses that had been hiding out under a counter in a back corner.  While the “Matsuda” brand may not be familiar to everyone, longtime eyewear aficionados will instantly recognize it: For the better part of three decades “Matsuda” was one of the most sought-after luxury eyewear brands on the market.

The Mitsuhiro Matsuda Legacy: Chic, Cutting Edge, Yet Elegant

Created by legendary Japanese fashion designer Mitsuhiro Matsuda, Matsudas were the “it” eyeglass frames and sunglasses through the ’80s and ’90s. Known for his soft, yet structured design aesthetic, Mitsuhiro Matsuda parlayed his fashion sense into a line of eyewear that became renowned for it’s chic, artsy style combined with precise Japanese engineering.

“I make clothes for people who dream, yet who want to look credible,” Matsuda once said. That same philosophy found its way into Matsuda’s eyewear line, which made expert use of metals like titanium and combined them with an artist’s eye for detail.

The Hollywood Effect

It didn’t hurt that Matsuda eyewear got a boost in the early ’90s from Hollywood, when a pair of Matsuda sunglassesSarah Connor Matsuda Sunglasses on Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 turned up on actress Linda Hamilton in the 1991 blockbuster “Terminator 2.

And while the T2 Matsudas (also known as the “Sarah Connor Sunglasses”) found a permanent place in pop culture thanks to their Terminator appearance, the brand was already hot, hot, hot with celebrities and fans of luxury eyewear.

In fact, in 1998, Hip-Hop idol Shawn Puffy Combs name dropped Matsuda during a rap video, further sealing the brand’s street and fashion credentials.

All of this sent optical stores rushing to carry Matsuda eyewear, which at the time was being licensed and distributed through Optical Shop International (OSI) and is considered one of OSI’s early flagship successes.

In fact, Urban Optiques (when it was under a previous owner and name) carried an extensive collection of Matsuda eyewear through the ’90s and into the early part of this decade.  To this day, we still feature two framed Matsuda Eyewear promotional campaign posters in the hallway to the exam room. One of them features the Matsuda “Sarah Connor” sunglasses.

Matsuda Eyewear Loses Its Distributor

Somewhere along the line, however, OSI dropped the Matsuda line — and with it — eyewear boutiques lost their sole source of Matsuda eyewear in the U.S.

Once that happened, it became nearly impossible to order new stock.  Demand continued to be high among existing Matsuda fans, but new supply was pinched. Increasingly, Matsuda fans had to turn to the Internet and places like eBay or dead-stock inventories to track down Matsuda’s or even find replacement parts for their existing frames and sunglasses. Even then, it was slim pickings.

A Legend Dies and a Demand for Matsuda Rises

Mitsuhiro Matsuda died in 2008 after a long battle with liver cancer.  He was eulogized by Kenzo Takada, founder of the Japanese Kenzo fashion empire, as one of the most “faithful, honest and sincere” men Kenzo had known. Matsuda-Eyeglass-Frames-Closeup

His label Nicole, which took New York and Paris by storm in the 1980s, continues to be popular in Japan, even if it’s less well known internationally today. A plan by Matsuda to expand his fashion collection into U.S. boutiques in the late ’80s lost its footing, but his distinctive eyewear continues to draw loyal fans even today. Vintage Matsuda fashion designs can fetch nearly $1,000 today, and some of the harder-to-find Matsuda eyeglass frames also command top dollar on the vintage market.

If Internet search traffic is any indication, demand for Matsuda eyewear continues to be high.

Matsuda and Matsuda eyewear-related terms get nearly a quarter-million searches globally according to Google. Yet Matsuda eyewear fans will be disappointed when they discover that most retailers that carried the line no longer have stock.

Reviving Vintage Matsuda at Urban Optiques

So you can understand how excited we were when we found our long-lost box of “new” Matsuda’s at Urban Optiques.

All of our more than 20 Matsuda frames and sunglasses are in mint or near-mint condition and ready to be fitted withMatsuda-Eyewear-Collection-Large-View prescription lenses.

Since the Matsudas are no longer available in the U.S., we don’t have the usual restrictions on selling the frames online. That means we can sell the Matsudas nationally to Matsuda collectors.  If you are interested in any of the frames, please e-mail us and we can send more detailed information and photos.  Prices for the Matsuda frames vary depending on model and rarity.

We’d like to see nothing short of a full-blown Matsuda revival on par with what we’ve seen in recent years with the Ray-Ban Wayfarer.  Who knows, maybe Matsuda’s Japanese brand “Nicole” will pick up where Mitsuhiro left off and begin producing and distributing these phenomenal eyeglasses again in the U.S.

Until then, we’ve got your vintage Matsudas at Urban Optiques.

Category : Designer Eyewear / Matsuda

17 Responses to “Whatever Happened to Matsuda Eyewear?”

Lauren March 18, 2010

I was looking up info on Matsuda sunglasses and your website came up. I have a pair and was unaware of their value. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions for me.

From my reading, they should say “made in Japan,” however my pair say “made in Italy.” Were Matsudas ever made in Italy?

Is the Matsuda name under license by a manufacturer with new frames being made? The inside of mine say “Matsuda CARELLI 055 CA G5 Made in Italy 100% UV”

Any guidance/info you could provide would be most appreciated. Thanks for your time.

HIROKO September 25, 2010

I need information: Matsuda #10152
tita-p 52 16-144

Price and availability


Archie October 23, 2010

Do you have Matsuda #10152 TITANIUM frame? Size is 54-18 144 .


Roger Dresch October 27, 2010

I purchased a pair of Matsuda sunglasses on Rodeo Drive in L.A. about 10 years ago. I was told at the time that they had a life-time gaurantee.
The metal frame broke where the bridge meets the lense frame. I can not find information on where to send them to get a replacment.
The frame has a number on it AS 2821.
Con you direct me on this?

Dr. Michelle October 31, 2010

Hi Roger,

We will check in the boutique to see if we have this frame in stock.

Stay tuned …

Dr. Michelle October 31, 2010

Hi Archie. We are checking the boutique stock to see if this is available. We’ll be in touch here on the website or in email as soon as we go through the stock.


Janet November 20, 2010

I need the same Matsuda glasses Linda Hamilton wore in Terminator. I had same pair and my kid sat on them and broke them! Help

Pedro December 12, 2010

I’ve been searching for the model Matsuda2809 in the internet, but i’ve read this model is not made for 20 years. Is that correct? Where could I buy that model?

Linda December 17, 2010

I’m looking for 10178

Charles Lin January 16, 2011

Hello Pedro:

Check out the below link to eBay. If you pay $1000.00 2809 can be yours.


To Urban Optique

I dug out from my closet my old broken prescription 2809 from 22 years ago. Yes, that mean before the Terminator 2 movie I bought the pair. I was a Taiwanese kid studying in Tokyo at the time so on one of the left broken arm frame says Nicole! The arm ends are curb spring rather than a straight line. I also lost my Side Shield. Talk about sentimental value…I had no idea that it is still so popular and valuable today. Can you fix these? If you can I might be able to feel as cool as 20 something years ago. Please give me some ideas, Thanks.

Dianna Langer May 9, 2011

My favorite sunglasses broke – Matsuda 10335 frames (the stem on one side snapped off which I still have but it looks like the hardware metal is broken). I’m wondering if they can be repaired. Any suggestions?

Nikko Scaife June 24, 2011

I have a pair the inside lable reads Matsuda 101 then there are small numbers 14612. I the lenses are like a yellow collr and I would like the same ones in a smoke gray lens. I have been looking for years! I hope you can help.

Jan Trotter June 29, 2011

Where can I find Matsuda Christina Collection cc311 49-19

Mr Barry Little January 20, 2012

I am currently wearing MATSUDA 5183 col b 53/13 BETA TITAN eyewear and would like to replace them with another model of similar quality.


Thank you,
Barry Little.

James A. Jamieson January 27, 2012

I am interested in replacing my Matsuda frames # 2835. Can you assist me?

Dale Clay February 1, 2012

I am looking for frame style 10210 in size 38 – 25. Can these be found and at what price.

Donald July 21, 2012

Interesting to see a thread discussing vintage avant garde eyewear. For some reason as a teenager in early 1990s Baltimore I became interested in this topic. It might have been because of the designs by Proksch and Issey Miyake that the Pet Shop Boys started wearing in the late 1980s. like the Naval architecture inspired “signal semaphore” flip-up ones, and the “bird beak” Proksch ones on the cover of Left to My Own Devices.

I think Issey Miyake was one of the first to start to whole phenomena. I searched out a book from around 1990 that detailed the history of his fashion – only finding it at a big university library – and discovered that starting in the very early 1980s he had had many very eccentric designs. The most memorable had two small round lenses on each side, making it look as though each eye had a small pair of sunglasses in front of it…a doubled up pair of glasses! There were others I don’t remember.

The Matsuda Terminator frames marked the heyday of the avant garde. It’s hard to appreciate, but at the time their design was actually fairly conservative compared to things from Yohji Yamamoto and the Belgian guy named Theo. They weren’t very hard to find and several upscale boutiques in DC and Philadelphia had them. You could even find them in the suburbs. Their selling price was around $450, often the most expensive pair a store sold. But this set a new benchmark and other super-upscale brands came along…at Robert Marc NYC there were frames made of platinum selling for 1000s of dollars. I foolishly spent some hard-earned high school money on one of the last pairs of Issey Miyake sunglasses sold by Rittenhouse Opticians in Philadelphia. The US distributor in LA, Alex Vance IIRC, was more interested in pursuing his own designs which were quite good as well. (and I was told at the time he designed some of the more conservative Miyake frames) I also have the Yamamato “offset lens” sunglasses, bought for a staggering sum from Voorthuis opticians in the “Mazza Gallerie” shopping center in DC. Well, I wish I’d bought Apple stock instead, but…hey, I was young…isn’t that the most commonly used excuse in the world!

By the mid-late 90s, it seemed like the trend had run its course. I can imagine that certain profitable designs continued to be made, like the Terminator glasses, but as I pointed out those were actually fairly conservative. Since then we’ve had 15 years of minimalistic and/or retro styles. Some historian of fashion could probably chronicle the “late 80s Avant-garde” aesthetic and its curious place in history. It wasn’t just sunglasses…Adidas had strange sneaker designs that never again saw the light of day, like one where the tongue of the shoe is integral with the body. Those still sell on ebay, especially in Germany, for $400-$500.

Sorry for the long comment…peace out!

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