State Optical, a U.S. manufacturer of luxury eyewear, has acquired AO Eyewear from Alan McKinley, the owner and president of the company, who remains as general manager. No financial details were released.
The takeover will enable State Optical's expertise in acetate frames to be combined with AO's know-how in the production of metal frames. State Optical is moving AO's frame manufacturing line to its own facility in Chicago, adding 10,000 square feet to its site, the company's chief executive, Scott Shapiro, told VMail. AO had a manufacturing complex in Southbridge, Massachusetts.
State Optical will continue producing the AO brand, carrying on with many of its sunglass styles and launching a new collection in 2020. In the longer term, it plans to introduce optical frames.
AO's eyewear heritage dates back to 1826 and the company became a provider of sunglasses to U.S. Air Force. Its Original Pilot Sunglass was the first on the moon, being worn by the entire Apollo 11 crew and is now on permanent display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
AO is working on reviving its line of Saratoga tortoise-shell sunglasses for its spring 2020 collection. It claims that the AO Saratoga was the favorite sunglasses of former U.S. president John F. Kennedy.
State Optical is owned by Europa Eyewear, which was founded by Alan Shapiro and his wife, Cynthia, in 1977. Their son Scott Shapiro then created State Optical in 2014 with Jerry Wolowicz, currently president of Europa Eyewear, and the cousins Marc Franchi and Jason Stanley.
State Optical, AO and Europa's latest men's line, The Alan J Collection, will form a portfolio of American-made eyewear backed by Europa's distribution network, it pointed out.