Good glasses or sunglasses can be hard to find. Having to squint in the meantime doesn’t help. But the fact that there are apparently as many indistinguishable brands of glasses on the market as there are light receptors in your retinas (seven million, for the record).
Adding to the confusion, many are owned or made by a handful of companies: in the list below, Ray-Ban, Oakley, Persol, and Oliver Peoples all belong to Italian conglomerate Luxottica, while Tom Ford is produced in partnership with the smallest Marcolin. . Eyeglasses are also notorious as a category where mark-ups make salivating (up to 250% on frames and 800% on lenses, according to a Guardian article on “Big Lens.”)
Measuring quality is also difficult: tightening a few screws can be enough for a brand to claim that frames are “made” – or even “handcrafted” – in a country.
Whether you get your money’s worth in terms of materials and construction is a question, but sometimes you’re paying for the design or the pedigree, which is worth at least more than a random eyewear designer label on the temples of your frames.
So with that caveat, these 12 brands have historically had a rep for good optics, or are quickly building one.
Ace and Tate
Playing on acetate as a common frame material, Ace & Tate, founded in 2013, is often dubbed the European response to Warby Parker, which turned the American eyewear market upside down with its direct-to-consumer model a decade ago. .
Like its American counterpart, Ace & Tate is able to cut prices by removing middlemen and lavishness from the production chain: its Amsterdam-designed styles, which are handcrafted in Italy or China, somehow cost less. £ 100 in some cases – with corrective lenses. It also offers a free home trial service if you can’t visit its stores in London, Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow. As.
“Anti-Glare” doesn’t quite have the same ringtone. Thus, after launching to the general public its teardrop-shaped glasses, designed to protect areas not covered by helmets and masks of US Air Force pilots, in 1937, Bausch & Lomb wisely renamed them “Ray-Ban ” the next year.
It’s more famous as a sunglasses brand, but many of its famous styles – including the Wayfarer, Clubmaster, and Aviator – are also available in optics, worn by everyone from Malcolm X to Seth Rogen. Today, the Ray-Bans are as evocative as the Top Gun soundtrack and as timeless as Tom Cruise in the sequel.
A direct-to-consumer brand, yes, but one that seems expensive enough to be reassuring to stock up on the discerning likes of Mr. Porter and Liberty. Cubitts founder Tom Broughton made his first pair of picture frames on his kitchen table at King’s Cross in London in 2013; the store there and in nearby Coal Drops Yard are two of its eight outposts across the capital, which offer eye tests for £ 25 if you buy frames, as well as sunglasses (prescription and otherwise ), transition lenses, made to measure and made to measure.
NB specifying your specs is really expensive: from £ 725, with a premium of £ 200 for real buffalo horn.
Exactly a century ago, the Kirks were making clothes and buttons at Clerkenwell in London when they saw the vision to branch out. It was not until the 1990s that the company, at one point in its 100-year history the largest manufacturer of spectacle frames in the capital, discovered in its archives a trunk full of 1950s styles and 60 which informed its Originals range.
A hit on the vibrant club scene, the reissues graced taste magazines such as The Face and Arena, and music creators such as Oasis, Sir Mick Jagger, Paul Weller and Morrissey. The brand’s showroom has since moved to Blackfriars.
While Ray-Ban was only a glint in the narrowed eyes of American pilots, Italian optician and photographer Guiseppe Ratti invented in 1917 the “Protectors” which took off with air forces around the world as well as pilots. racing and, uh, the poets. (Persol is a contraction of “per il sole”, meaning “for the sun”).
More than a century later, the 714 folding sunglasses that style designer Steve McQueen wore in the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair remain by far the brand’s most famous model, but the brand’s optics wear it. also the same vintage style and the same trademark or arrow on the hinges and arms, “inspired by the swords of ancient warriors”. Not their arrows?
Finlay & Co
Another in the Warby Parker mold, this British start-up has a “rebellious spirit”, perhaps this is why Liam Gallagher wore his Hamilton sunglasses at Glasto. Noel is also a fan of the Finlay & Co frames, which are worn by staff at several member club sites to see and see from Soho House, as is David Gandy.
The individualistic frames are “handmade by eyewear artisans located in the foothills of the Italian Alps”, which is deliciously evocative to say the least. In addition to eye tests, you’ll find a selection of independent brands at its Soho, London store, including Salt (see below).
It was only in America that a brand founded in 1987 could sell itself as “heritage”. But Oliver Peoples drew a lot of inspiration from vintage American frames for his first understated collections, in stark contrast to the bold and luminous glasses of the late 1980s.
Sunset Boulevard is a Hollywood staple, worn by Patrick Bateman in American Psycho and Tyler Durden in Fight Club. (The limited edition reissue of this latest model wasn’t in the anti-consumer spirit, but hey.) Oliver Peoples also paid homage to Gregory Peck’s specs in To Kill a Mockingbird and Cary Grant’s gegs in North by Northwest.
Few fashion designers have Tom Ford’s ability to enter and own and lead product categories. Like Tom Ford’s colognes and beauty, his glasses are some of the most sought after in the world.
Such good publicity was the first director of Mr Ford, the 2009 multi-talented film A Single Man, that he was forced to release a style based on the frames specially designed by BAFTA winner for Best Actor Colin Firth. : the TF 5178. The silver gift T at the temples can also be seen on Daniel Craig James Bond’s “secret” agent in Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Specter.
Started in 1975 in the garage of California motorcycle dealer Jim Jannard, Oakley made grips for motocross before moving on to goggles, which he cut and added to hangers to keep the setting sun out. blind it while driving parallel to the ocean. . High-tech wraps performed well with athletes, including Michael Jordan and Tom Cruise, who wore a self-destructive pair in Mission: Impossible 2 in 2000.
Oakley exploded in popularity before its ubiquity blew up its cool factor; still functional, it is back in fashion thanks to the nostalgia of the 90s, the papa and Palace style. And it’s not just sports sunglasses that divide: optics are arguably much more wearable.
Two-way OG, Oliver Goldsmith was born in 1926, just before eyewear became iconic accessories: it was the first eyewear brand to collaborate with fashion houses for the runway, to appear in Vogue and to find the favors of celebrities such as Peter Sellers, John Lennon and Michael Caine.
This latter eye-con style frequently wore OG offscreen and on, most notably as spy Harry Palmer in 1965’s The Ipcress File (“Do you still wear your glasses?” “Yes. Except in bed.”) Unusually for l optics oligopoly, the company remains in the family: Oliver’s great-granddaughter, Claire, runs it today.
Another newcomer to the market, Viu offers designer frames that you can try on at home or in one of its flagship stores in growing numbers across Europe. Proud of a transparent production process, its glasses are designed in Switzerland and made in Italy or Japan.
The designs are avant-garde in more than one way. In addition to the avant-garde frames, some are made using 3D printing technology to minimize waste.
Another native of California, Salt has only been around since 2006 but is nonetheless seasoned: founder Aaron Behle previously worked for Oakley and surfwear label Reef, while chief designer David Rose was at Oliver Peoples and in the team. surfboard Quiksilver.
This background is reflected in the form and functionality of its products: the durable frames are made in Japan by third-generation manufacturers while the brand’s sunglasses feature useful anti-reflective polarized lenses. The “memory metal” in its collaboration with the outdoor brand Aether even folds up on its own.