Style is more about finding something that suits you and defines your personality and less about what is dictated by fashion. Using current styles we can tailor a look that is up to date AND individual, thereby giving you a unique look.
Ophthalmic frame styles follow the same life-cycle as fashion clothing. A new innovative design or concept will originate that triggers a ‘trend’. The trend gets picked up by all the design houses and embraced by fashionistas. Initially the innovative designs are exclusive and available only to those with access to high fashion. Eventually the design will be copied and replicated in every collection. The last stage is when the designs reach the mass market and cheap copies flood the market.
This fashion life-cycle takes a bit longer in spectacle frame design because the manufacturing process is more time and cost intensive. The distribution is also more difficult as professional channels are needed to dispense ophthalmic frames and the truly innovative take a long time to gain mass appeal. Styles are generally more enduring as recurring trends ensure stable collections.
Each of the stages above has certain brands that define that specific niche. Handmade or bespoke frames (manufactured by craftsmen) offer the easiest way to obtain a truly individualised look. Niche brands (most often designed by architects and industrial designers) provide more adventurous styles and top-end designer brands enable patients to complete their look according to an identifiable image.
Leaders in Innovation:
- Tom Davies – bespoke frames: colour, size, style, combination.
- Silhouette – Design Innovation: Iconic rimless collection – Tital Minimal Art.
- Marchon – Titanium memory alloy: Flexon trademark.
- Ray-Ban – Iconic designs, popularisation of sunglasses as fashion accessories, task specific applications: Ray-Ban (Aviator, Clubmaster, Wayfarer).
- icBerlin – Innovative design and use of materials: Screwless sheet metal construction.
At the very top of the spectacle frame design tree we find the most coveted ranges. These collections are produced by exceptional designers and craftsmen that specialise in the design and manufacture of ophthalmic frames. These ranges are acknowledges to be the most innovative and creative examples of the craft. Styles originated by these designers will eventually be copied and replicated by mass manufacturers that dilute the innovative nature of the original. Real aficionados are rarely fooled though.
example: Silhouette Titan Minimal Art Rimless frame
A Decade ago Silhouette sparked a revolution in rimless spectacle frame design: Titan Minimal Art, an icon in rimless eyewear design – without hinge, without screws and nearly weightless. Silhouette set new standards with this eyewear, which has won numerous awards, and is worn and appreciated worldwide by over 8 million people. This is one of the most copied designs in eyewear but although the general ‘look’ of the frame is similar, copies are not made of the same material and do not offer the same quality and comfort as the original.
Original Silhouette (Space edition) vs Cheap copy (Safilo model 4300)
Niche brands offer a choice of styles that appeal to a small but select group of people. Most follow general trends but add special features – manufacturing processes, materials (gold, diamonds, wood, horn), more adventurous colour options and combinations, special trims and embellishments, themes (retro, large, folding) and/or exaggerated styling. These are for the real individuals among us and always make a strong statement.
- Prodesign (danish design – colour and style)
- Mykita (screwless hinge system)
- Jee Vice (unique styling)
- Andy Wolf (handmade)
(Click on the link to go to their websites)
- Tom Ford
- Roberto Cavalli
- Emilio Pucci
The above collections are only available through specialised independent practitioners and are not normally available from high street multiples or budget optical practices. The quality and service of these brands are strictly controlled and regulated. The product itself is of a very high quality and goes through rigid quality control procedures. These frames are always covered by a manufacturers guarantee and the styles change seasonally to ensure that only the most up-to-date models are in the collections.
Mass market designer brands
To get the ‘look’, other design houses offer a range of styles as part of their collections. These are mass market brands with an identifiable image and are based on styles that have proved popular and desirable. The quality is excellent and reflects the image of the design house. These collections are usually made under licence by specialised optical manufacturing companies.