It is a truth universally acknowledged that a statement pair of glasses can be the most powerful tool in your wardrobe. With everyone from Clark Kent to Elton John to Samuel L. Jackson recognising the virtue of signature specs, if you’ve never gone bold before, now is the perfect time to try a pair on for size.
And, thanks to a handful of brands working to create fashion-forward glasses which cater to all and every face-shape or preference, selecting a pair of flattering frames doesn’t have to be difficult. So, if you’re in the market for some seriously enviable eyewear, we’ve curated our list of the best designers on the market today, alongside a selection of the frames we’ve set our sights on.
A true cult brand: Kirk Originals
The Kirk legacy dates back to 1919 when the first frames were created in London, setting in motion a period of invention and innovation.The discovery of a trunk full of original frames in the Kirk archive back in the early nineties inspired the launch of Kirk Originals, the first sunglasses brand to look back to classic 1950s and 1960s shapes for inspiration, re-inventing them in modern materials and silhouettes.
These edgy, vintage sunglasses became an overnight success amongst the movers and shakers on the London music, club and style scenes. Kirk Originals became a cult brand as cool British culture rose to prominence around the world. Bands like Oasis, The Brand New Heavies, and The Young Disciples wore Kirk Originals, and they also gained fans in Hollywood movie stars Antony Hopkins and Gary Oldman.
Brigham Optical Frames
Ramsgate Smokey Grey
E.Tautz/ Kirk Originals Tenby
A start-up success story: Finlay London
Launched in 2012, unisex eyewear brand Finlay London’s stylish frames have taken the UK by storm and established themselves as a firm celebrity favourite — with everyone from Meghan Markle to David Gandy counting themselves as fans.
Today, the brand continues to go from strength to strength thanks to its attractive price point and high-quality products. All frames are designed in their West London studio, before being handmade using the long-established techniques of eyewear artisans located in the foothills of the Italian Alps.
Murdoch Frames in Light Tortoise
Marshall Frames in Dark Rum
A Scandi-chic goldmine: Ace & Tate
It was during a trip to New York in 2011 that Mark de Lange came up with the idea to start direct-to-consumer eyewear label Ace & Tate — a play on the word “acetate,” a material often used to create eyewear frames. “I bought a pair of frames, went back to Holland and realised that the process of buying glasses is expensive, takes long and is an unnecessarily complex process for the customer,” he told BoF.
Since then, Ace & Tate has been established as a firm Millennial favourite — thanks to their genuinely beautiful, on-trend designs, and the price-point that they have afforded customers by cutting out the middlemen of production.
Embracing eccentricity: Cutler & Gross
“If you buy a handcrafted pair of glasses or sunglasses, you want to see the tiny inaccuracies, the straight, raw edges of the plastic, the pins – they give character, make them unique to the wearer. The Cutler and Gross customer has always been an individual. Eccentric maybe, but a rare breed, certainly” – Graham Cutler
Founded in 1969, British luxury eyewear brand Cutler and Gross combines the finest Italian craftsmanship with irrefutably cool style. Since its establishment in fashion’s halcyon days, the brand’s signature creativity has been applied to sunglasses and optical frames with their trademark numbered designs and absence of an ostentatious logo.
Looking for more exemplary eyewear? Here’s how to look good in sunglasses this summer…