JB3 emerges as a testament to the marriage of Italian craftsmanship and contemporary luxury eyewear. Channeling the essence of the refined Italian lifestyle, the brand is an embodiment of meticulous precision, quality, and reverence for heritage. JB Mariano III, the visionary founder, nurtured his familial roots in Italy for over a decade of immersive exploration and study, fostering a profound appreciation for its sartorial traditions. Today, the journey continues as JB thoughtfully designs his accessories in New York City and works with an independent, family-run factory near Udine to make the designs come to life. Here, a 36-step artisanal process unites technical finesse and manual artistry to create each pair of JB3 sunglasses.
Beyond fashion, the brand's commitment to sustainability is palpable; a close-knit relationship with their manufacturer streamlines production, eliminating excess and allowing for small, waste-conscious batches. JB3's designs, characterized by timeless allure, bear distinctive elements that resonate with their wearer. With an array of striking hues and captivating profiles, these frames stand resilient with water-resistant, scratch-resistant, and anti-reflective attributes—an enduring defiance of transient trends. It is safe to say that JB3 knows exactly who they are, where they came from, and what they stand on. We spoke with JB about sources of inspiration, the brand's roots, and their next moves.
Let's dive into the origins of the brand. Can you talk about the various ways you were inspired when you spent time over a decade in Italy?
In 2016, when I was 19 and really figuring out who I was, I came across a store in Bellagio called “Abbigliamento Miledo” It was a multigenerational tailor shop owned by Nicolo Miledo, and this is where I discovered the sartorial greatness of the country’s artisans first-hand. The level of craftsmanship that is provided is only passed through generations of family. I watched in awe as Nicolo took a barely manufactured shirt and turned it into a timeless, incredibly well-fitting piece as if it was muscle memory. He took each individual piece that makes up his shirts - about 8 pieces in all - and sewed them right in front of me to my exact tailored fit, and to this day, it is still the best-fitting shirt I own. The whole process was his nature - he was looking up, talking, smoking a cigarette, and somehow knew exactly what to do and how to do it without looking. At this moment, you could feel the craftsmanship, which was different than anything I’d ever seen before. It felt like a seamlessly orchestrated event with care and passion in every step, every movement, and every puff of the cigarette.
Piggybacking off of the last question, talk about the general differences in quality and craftsmanship between Italy and a lot of other countries.
The precision of generational craftsmanship that is only passed by apprenticeship and word of mouth is something I had never seen before. Hand processes that are passed from the grandmother to the mom, and the mom to the daughter, and so on - this is everything from crafts in work, such as the tailor I mentioned, to cooking with family. With so many technical processes involved in modern manufacturing, it makes it evermore special that this special piece of the culture in Italy has been preserved. Italians put an exceedingly greater amount of care into these handmade processes than we do in the States, and they have mastered them over hundreds and hundreds of years through family.
This feeling of family as a part of one’s business, passing crafts down from generations, and keeping family integrated into every aspect of life, is something that is super important to me. I am of Italian heritage, and my family, including my parents and two sisters, is an extremely important part of my life. This is naturally a part of our ethos that is not only something you find in Italy but you find within my family as well. We work with a family-owned and operated factory, which was something I was adamant about when choosing our production partners.
What other sources do you gain creative inspiration from?
I try to gain inspiration from just about anything at all. A song I listen to, a movie I watch, a view I have seen. Each frame shape takes a different name from a city in Italy that has inspired me in some way. I was listening to the Italian house song “L'école'' as I designed the Bellagio frame shape that emulates the city-to-lake lifestyle many Lombardians lead. The Positano frame was a no-brainer for me. The cat eye is a classic shape, and when deciding what more fashion-forward, traditionally feminine shape to add to the line-up, I was researching classic fashion and came across Audrey Hepburn. I returned to her for inspiration when I saw her image in a small abbigliamento on a side street in Positano, and this shape turned into our second most popular Positano style. For our more square and unique Taormina style, it was a simple road that I saw overlooking the area of Sicily I was in that brought the name and shape to life. I know it sounds cliche but inspiration is everywhere, and if you aren’t inspired by the smallest things around you, you are not trying enough to be inspired.
Can you describe the moment that you decided to launch your brand?
There’s an exact moment that this happened - on March 12th, 2021. I was working at a “traditional” job and hit a breaking point for a lack of passion for what I was doing. I knew in the depths of my heart I always wanted to be in fashion, which started in high school, watching some of my older friends start a surf and skate brand called Idyllic Clothing. That really opened my eyes to any sort of creative process, and I always wanted to be a part of it. I decided for this major pivot, I needed to get a formal education in luxury fashion management and was lucky enough to be accepted into the program at Bocconi in Milan. This is when everything fell into place and when I met partners that would help me launch what is now JB3. Being at Bocconi and having the incredible opportunity to have access to Italian manufacturers and partners first-hand afforded me the opportunity to combine my love for fashion with my aforementioned time spent in Italy and my appreciation of the craftsmanship behind the pieces created there.
The JB3 brand seems so effortlessly rooted in NYC culture. Is this intentional, and why is this important to you?
This is very intentional. From a very young age, I was always drawn to New York City. I grew up coming to New York City all the time; my mom grew up in Queens, and she worked in New York City for her entire life. I now live here, but growing up spent time here for concerts, memorable birthday parties (three consecutive years) at Mars 2112 (IYKYK), and watching my mother at work for bring your child to work day, which I loved. I knew it was where I always wanted to end up, and I wanted the brand to breathe the ethos of something that was born and raised in New York City. New York City, to me, is the world hub of individualized fashion, and as JB3 grows, I hope people find ways to use our pieces to individualize their own fashion sense.
If you had to describe the JB3 brand in just three words, what would they be?
In the know, craftsmanship, and timeless.
Let's get into the topic of timeless designs. There is currently a trend that is pulling people towards more classic, clean, and timeless pieces. How do you feel about that?
I love it. Of course, there will always be a market for contemporary designs, and maybe soon we will have our own, but the staple for our eyewear collections will always be timeless frame shapes with statement details. Being able to combine trendy details like chunky acetate with timeless frame shapes like the cat eye will always be ingrained in our DNA.
Getting into your recent amazing collection with Mark Sabino, what was the inspiration behind that partnership?
To be honest, Mark was! I have been a follower (and a fan) for a few years. I reached out to him to have a call so I can try to understand just a little bit of where he draws inspiration from. He has an incredible process, and it was really great getting to work with him. I sent him a pair of sunglasses after the call, and he immediately recognized the quality and came up with the idea to switch the arms and add customizable features to them. So much of the fun of being a brand owner comes from meeting people like Mark and learning from them.
What's next for JB3?
Keep an eye out for some product expansion within the next few months and a collaboration with a female-founded upcycled denim company that should make a big splash in Miami.
Is there anything else that you would like to share?
JB3 as a name is my name, JB Mariano III - I’m the third generation in my family who was able to create something with my brand. This sentiment comes from years of traveling through Italy with my family and living there while lucky enough to study and learn from the land and the people. I wanted to ensure that this love for a place, while also tying in my New York roots, was brought to life through the pieces we create and the juxtaposition of timeless classics with a modern twist. Similar to the craftsmen in Italy, who have taken a craft learned over time, using slow and steady techniques and applied it to a modern and fashionable life.