EYEWEAR IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD
Gone are the days when eyewear was just a tool to help us see. Beautiful, independent optical boutiques grace our high streets, and an array of new technologies allow us to access amazing frames from the comfort of our own velvet sofa. The landscape was already shifting when the Pandemic hit and caused so many of us to work from home. There was a seismic change in our way of life; the way we interact, the way we communicate and naturally, the way that we dress. Suits would have gone to the charity shops had the charity shops been open. Wardrobes were emptied and there was a sense of liberation, a lightening of the sartorial load.
People started to buy fewer items but invest in quality, happy to spoil themselves while the restaurant budget could be diverted. Zoom quickly became the weapon of choice and personal style was limited to the chest up. Suddenly nothing in your wardrobe is more important than your eyewear.
So how do you dress the windows of your soul?
Remember there are two parts to this purchase: the medical and the fashion. Go to an independent optician to get your eyes tested. Invest in decent lenses, with good coatings, that will last. There is no point in buying a beautiful frame and cutting corners on the optical side. You get what you pay for! Buying frames today is a whole new ballgame. Most of the collections attached to ‘fashion brands’ are licensed and are mass-produced, poor quality, sold on the label. The gold is buried in the small, specialist eyewear brands that you will find at local optical boutiques. These niche stores carry fewer collections, but they know everything about them from their provenance to their production. Most small towns have at least one great optical retailer within striking distance.
There are some great eyewear designers to discover if you don’t already know them. French brand, Anne et Valentin, bring artistic flair to the party while Jacques-Marie Mage offers a touch of California cool. Kirk & Kirk plays with colour to reflect your personality… there is a wealth of choice out there. It is also much easier to buy eyewear online these days, as you might expect. Before you make that move, please remember that fitting is hugely important. The frame needs to sit well on your bridge and the sides need to be a good length and bent at the correct angle so that they are comfortable. Your prescription is ‘centred’ so if your frame sits too high for example, it can affect your vision and will probably be difficult to wear. That is one very good reason to buy your specs from an independent optical boutique.
There is some very cool technology designed to make buying online, or at least, finding eyewear online, a much easier and more enjoyable process. New consumer websites such as eyestylist.com are blurring the lines between optical and fashion, helping consumers discover cool, artisanal brands and experiential stores to enjoy. Another innovative approach is favrspecs.com where you can explore some of the most exciting eyewear in the world and then be directed towards a global directory of stockists. If it sounds to you like the optical world is tiptoeing into the digital realm you have definitely got the right idea. Good optical professionals are rightly protective of the medical standards that they have trained so long to attain, and I make no apology for repeating that the optical part of your eyewear purchase is hugely important.
One very exciting new technology is broaching this by merging the digital and in-store consumer experience. Topologyeyewear.com offers a scanning system that measures every aspect of your head and lens measurements so that you can choose your frame online and your optician can fit your lenses, even adjust the frame to your precise fitting before sending it to you… and yes, it even fits in your mailbox. Leading American independent optical boutiques such as salleopticians.com in Atlanta, edwardbeiner.com in Miami and Leonardopticians.com in NYC have this scanning equipment in store and once they have taken your details you can sit back in your armchair and click away. The most important element of your eyewear styling decision is that your frames should reflect your personality. A well-styled, quality frame and lenses is a significant investment and yes, you should probably have two or three pairs to suit your differing moods and the environments that you enjoy. Think what you spend on shoes and at the end of your next Zoom call ask the person that you are speaking to what they think of your shoes! Chuck out that tortoiseshell and let’s party.